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 Lawrence, Jay Z, Malala 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.