Elbows on the table

Meaning behind anonymous elbow on TIME ‘Person of the Year’ cover explained

TIME magazine 2017 'Person of the Year' cover. (Twitter)

In 1929, famed author and playwright Virginia Woolf summed it up in one now famous, oft-quoted phrase, “For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.” While the magazine’s incredible “Person of the Year” cover honors just a few of the inspiring faces —  the “silence breakers” that have opened the floodgates to expose the widespread and relentless tide of sexual misconduct — TIME magazine understands that almost a century after Miss Woolf wrote those words, Anonymous is still a woman.

In the lower left hand corner of the cover, casually placed in from of pop music mogul Taylor Swift, is a lone, black-clad elbow without a face. It’s presence at the table is not a mistake, but rather a tribute to the countless women who have shared their stories of survival anonymously.

“That’s very intentional,” explained Time’s national correspondent Charlotte Alter during an interview on the BuzzFeed News morning show AM to DM. “That’s an anonymous woman who is a hospital worker, who was experiencing harassment and didn’t feel that she could come forward.” Alter went on to explain that the woman had shared her personal story with TIME, but her decision to remain anonymous is a reflection of the thousands of women who feel they can’t reveal their identities for fear of professional or personal ignominy.

Beyond the cover, the TIME feature includes several anonymous photos of participants with their faces turned away from the photographer’s camera; a conscious decision on the part of the magazine to reminder readers that sexual harassment is a travesty that touches no bounds, and that just because someone’s story exists outside the purview of Hollywood, its’ validity is in no way lessened. In its multimedia approach to the story, TIME is also featuring videos of women who aren’t famous speaking out about their ordeals. In the below video, Dana Lewis and Crystal Washington, hotel hospitality coordinators at New York City’s iconic Plaza Hotel, discuss what drove them to ultimately report sexual misconduct in their workplace. “It’s OK to stand up for yourself,” Lewis said, “even though you feel like the world is against you.”

“A huge part of this story is that, as much as the stigma around this has been removed this year because of the Me Too movement, it’s still really difficult for a lot of women to come forward,” Alter added in the BuzzFeed interview. “So we wanted to include people to really reference the risk that these women are taking by speaking out about this.”

Watch the interview with Alter below:

Read the full story at TIME.

TIME magazine names the silence breakers ‘Person of the Year’

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