Here's the powerful detail that everyone missed on the 'Time' Person of the Year cover
Yesterday, Time announced their much-awaited 'Person of the Year' selection. For the 90th year running, the publication has selected a person, group of people, idea or object that "for better or for worse... has done the most to influence the events of the year," and this time it went to the people who spoke out about sexual abuse: The Silence Breakers.
This, of course, refers to the events which began in October of this year, during which the Harvey Weinstein scandal began a chain reaction of victims speaking out against their abusers. At first, it was mainly celebrities who were being outed as perpetrators of sexually aggressive crimes, but, later on, the '#MeToo' hashtag encouraged anyone and everyone who had been a victim to stand in solidarity to one another.
With this in mind, Time made an interesting choice about the image on their front cover.
At first glance, the cover seems to depict only five women, all of whom had a major role in bringing The Silence Breakers movement to prominence. They are: Ashley Judd (an actress), Taylor Swift (a musician), Susan Fowler (a software engineer), Adama Iwu (a lobbyist), and Isabel Pascual, whose name was changed to protect her identity.
However, upon closer inspection, a sixth person can be seen. In the bottom right-hand corner, the elbow of an unknown woman is present, but her identity is not revealed.
Many people on Twitter believed this to be a mistake.
However, the move was a deliberate one, and the "floating arm" actually belongs to a hospital worker who wished to remain anonymous. More than that, though, the faceless sixth Silence Breaker represents something much bigger. As writer Helen Rosner pointed out:
Far from being a careless editing mistake (which it was hardly likely to be, seeing as a) Time is one of the prestigious publications in the world, and b) the subject of this issue's cover was already the subject of a great deal of media attention last month due to a tweet from Donald Trump, so they'd want to be extra careful about it), the elbow was a carefully calculated detail.
Because many people still feel unable to come forward, or are pressured into remaining silent or anonymous, they are often unrepresented when it comes to spreading awareness about victims of sexual abuse. However, by including the unidentified hospital worker, Time has acknowledged those who still have to suffer in silence.
Rosner then went on to give another example of a cover that depicted the same scenario through a slightly different visual metaphor:
Time's choice to include the anonymous or unknown victims, as well as those who have huge platforms on which they can condemn their abusers, is an admirable one, as it reminds us that all people are deserving of respect - not just the powerful ones.
The Silence Breakers changed the way that people view sexual abuse. No longer is it seen as a rarity, but is not recognized as a pandemic that could affect anyone. They earned their place on the cover, and Time did an excellent job of representing them.