It’s Unacceptable That TIME Put Beyonce On Its 100 Most Influential People Cover In Her Underwear

It's Unacceptable That TIME Magazine Put Beyonce On Its 100 Most Influential People Cover In Her Underwear

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg opens her profile of Beyonce for the TIME 100 Most Influential People 2014 issue like this:

“Beyoncé doesn’t just sit at the table. She builds a better one. Today she sits at the head of the boardroom table at Parkwood Entertainment.”

We all know that Beyonce is one of the most influential, fascinating people in the world. Otherwise, we as viewers would not continuously follow just about everything she does, from dropping an epic visual album to going on a gorgeous vacation, from partaking in female-oriented marketing to openly debating the way we talk about women. She is an intelligent, wildly talented woman whose influence on fans and non-fans alike is beyond huge. So, why did TIME put her in her underwear on the cover of its 100 Most Influential People 2014 issue?

Do not get me wrong: like I said, Beyonce is easily one of pop culture’s most significant figures, and I doubt that her significance is going away anytime soon. I’m just unsure as to why the magazine opted to put her on its cover wearing a bathing suit/underwear set when the other picks–actor Robert Redford, NBA player Jason Collins, and General Motors CEO Mary Barra–are all wearing full outfits. Last year’s covers featured Jennifer LawrenceJay ZMalala Yousafzai, and more, but again, none were put in their underwear.

If Beyonce chose her own cover’s outfit, then by all means, I think she should wear whatever she wants to. On the other hand, I wish that one of the most strong, powerful women chosen on the list was depicted in the same way that the other picks were (even Miley Cyrus‘s portrait consisted of a typical day-to-day outfit). Powerful women have long been sexualized in order for society to maintain a certain level of distance between females and the obtainment of power; we would laugh had any man been put on the cover making this same pose with the same wardrobe type because we as viewers would not be able to take it entirely seriously, as he would be appearing in what is commonly seen as a female manner. To me, choosing to put a wide shot of Beyonce in her underwear says, “Yes, she’s incredibly influential, but look hot hot she is!” After all, when was the last time a man was featured on the cover of TIME (or any other news magazine) in his boxers?

Beyonce is one of the most highly-respected and beloved figures in pop culture, and while the term “figure in pop culture” may be easily dismissible as a fleeting position, she has been around the entertainment seen for over two decades now. She deserves better than to be treated like she’s on the cover of Maxim for the TIME 100 list.

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    • you’re stupid

      Serena Williams isn’t wearing a full outfit so this argument is non-void. Get a life.

      • Char

        “Non-void” means it is not void. Did you perhaps mean “null and void”?

    • Lindsey Conklin

      I completely agree with you. for the cover image, I wish it would’ve been more of a profile. She looks amazing (my god those leg muscles) but like you said, it detracts from her power when we focus on her body. she’s a wonderful pick though to be on the cover, queen Bey.

    • Yesha

      It’s a bathing suit & she approved the photo.

    • Cassieleigh

      I think the bigger question is why would Beyonce allow HERSELF to be depicted like that? As you said, she can wear whatever she wants – so whether or not it was the magazine’s dictating the wardrobe for the shoot or Beyonce getting to pick what she wants, it’s still an unfortunate choice if she was hoping to portray her intelligence, savvy and influence. Do you think a badass like Beyonce would feel pressured to bow to the whims of some art director? Doubtful. This was her call too.

      And clearly some people have a problem with it.

      It’s an interesting double standard which will happen when there are low standards. Essentially what’s happening is that people think it’s completely okay for a woman to wear whatever she wants, yet it’s not okay to flaunt “hotness” or “sexiness” if you want to be taken seriously. And it’s also not okay for someone to dismiss a woman who does choose to flaunt her physical assets as merely a sex-object. No way can anyone win in this all too realistic scenario.

      As an alternative, perhaps we should all have a higher standard – not to be prudish or conservative in style, but rather to think before we dress as to how we want the world to see us.

    • JennyWren

      I’m less bothered by the outfit than by the picture overall. Beyonce is a stunning woman and she looks dreadful here…washed out, apathetic and miserable. Given that this is for a story about how influential she is (and whatever you think about the game, she’s an extremely proficient player so hats off for that) it’s weird that they chose to deviate from her usually fierce and strong persona in favor of making her look like a 1990s Calvin Klein model.

    • cristina

      The very fact that she can wear that AND be an influencial person is a win in itself. She is a performer and the image shows exactly that. Women fight so hard for the right to wear what they believe represents them – yet somehow we still judge them with the same narrow standards as 50 years ago.

      • jolene

        it is exactly that right, to wear anything you want, that makes her decision to pose in a bathing suit so perplexing… i mean she actually could have worn anything she wanted to… but she chose to represent herself and all her accomplishments through a veil of sex and objectification.

      • many layered

        ever thought that maybe she’s trying to /redefine/ what is sex and objectification, that simply being in your underwear shouldn’t be some be sexual thing unless you make it so?

      • jolene

        sure, but my point wasnt to have a normative discussion about what clothing is seen as sexual, nor do i think it was Beys (she exudes sex and sexuality, and those are all good things) … her last album makes it clear that Bey enjoys her sexuality and sex appeal and is proud of her body… thats wonderful, and i’m all for that… but, before she decides to stand tall and represent, she may want to consider portraying some of her other talents.

        As to her attempts at redefining objectification, she might want to make sure that she is not redefining it with the exact same definition used to sexualize women in the first place.

      • Monto Gawe

        IF and WHEN she indeed chose to wear that skimpy outfit THEN she chose to represent people who see nothing wrong in sexually objectifying themselves. For the sake of ROIs, TIME, for some years now, chose to capture the audience that salivates at the altar of sensationalism.

    • ughwhybey

      why is it unacceptable? because i cant remember the last time my eyes were intentionally diverted toward a print-out of a MAN’S crotch on the cover of time magazine! … this cover sexualizes Beyonce and all her accomplishments… surely there is more to this woman than a pretty vagina and a thigh gap.

      plus her thighs a photoshopped… i find it hard to understand why beautiful, powerful women choose to show off their physical features instead of exuding power, grace, intelligence in other ways… Beauty only gets one so far, and i’m sure Bey would not show up to her boardroom meetings wearing that outfit… So why the image?

      “Beyoncé doesn’t just sit at the table. She builds a better one.”… until she chooses to show herself on the cover of time magazine in a bathing suit!

    • Missy Laney

      Couldn’t agree more. Thanks Sam!

    • Mandie


      That said, I would give all the money to have brunch with Beyonce and Sheryl Sandberg. THINK OF THE INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES.

    • Andrew Paul Wood

      It’s Unacceptable That TIME Put Beyonce On Its 100 Most Influential People Cover… No, that’s all.

    • Sarah

      But, but look how hot she is!

      hehe, jk.

    • many layered

      I feel like being who she is and what she stands for, she definitely had a say in what she wore as well as what the options for the cover could be chosen from by the editors. she knows what she’s doing in choosing seemingly controversial attire. it might be that she’s calling out magazines for posting barely clothed women, or that she’s suggesting that she “bares all” and that’s why she is as influential as she is because she isn’t hiding anything or even that she just wanted to wear that. how about we just ask her, instead of speculating (and i am by no means suggesting that it is easy to ask Beyonce a question – but if enough people ask the same question we would get an answer).

    • amandahutchison

      I was shocked at how the Internet took this news today. Completely shocked. My reaction upon hearing the news and seeing the photos were “Dope, a woman on the cover of TIME for being one of the Most Influential, that’s awesome. And I must have that outfit.”

      I am over this idea that women need to be covered up in order to be taken seriously. Whether or not Beyonce chose this outfit, it’s pretty high-fashion: just take a look at Nasty Gal and you’ll see tons of variations of that get-up. I love the idea that women’s clothing keeps getting more and more “risque”, because then it’ll just be the norm. Personally, I’m into pushing the boundaries when it comes to fashion, I would love stuff like this to be the norm, because who cares? It’s cute and flattering. But the world still sees this as “UNDERWEAR! Oh my god. Cover her up!!!”

      I read a comment online a few hours on this very subject that got a handful of upvotes, saying “I would have liked to see Bey in a power suit on this cover.” I couldn’t believe how many people wanted that from her! That is so boring and predictable. A woman does NOT need to be wearing a fucking pantsuit to be depicted as “powerful”. Beyonce wears clothes like a boss, and I want to see her in high fashion. That’s exactly what they did.

      In summary… as christina said at the top, “The very fact that she can wear that AND be an influencial person is a win in itself.” Let’s try and get those gender norms goin’, people.

    • winstonsmith39

      If Beyonce is truly as influential as they say, do you really believe she would have worn anything she wasn’t happy with? Not a chance.

    • Penelope

      Beyoncé is not conservative. That’s why she is not wearing pants on the cover of Time Magazine. She is known for “but look hot hot she is!” and she knows that. Her leverage is her physical/sexual appearance. That’s how she became as “influential” as she is. No one would pay attention to her otherwise. She has no great talent (quite mediocre singer, dancer and actress); but she is a great performer. Those two aren’t exactly the same. Performance is about the visual. And she does that very well. So she performs even in still photos on the cover of Time.

    • Jaclyn

      GET OVER IT! She’s more covered up than in half of her music videos. If that’s the only thing you can sum up from them picking her out of thousands of other MEN and WOMEN then you have a lot of time on your hands. ALL HAIL QUEEN B!

    • kdy

      Her outfit looks like men’s tighty whities and a breast feeding bra. That said it doesn’t look horrible but I don’t think it looks sexy either. Unusual maybe. But not a good picture. She’s taken way better.

    • Anthro Pop

      Bullshit….Bey runs the world regardless of what she’s wearing.
      “She looks gorgeous and physically strong. But more importantly, she looks
      like Beyoncé — a woman who celebrates her body, is often seen in short shorts,
      and won’t apologize for it.” Get over it.

    • Brianna

      Lots of typos here..