Time magazine's 2017 "Person of the Year" decision is an incredibly powerful one. The issue recognizes "the silence breakers" — women who've spoken out about sexual misconduct in their various industries. Some of the women are well known, like cover stars Taylor Swift and Ashley Judd. Others who spoke with Time are anonymous — and the "Person of the Year" cover pays tribute to those unnamed survivors.
If you look closely at the magazine cover, you'll notice an elbow in the bottom right corner of the photo, below Swift. That's not because the issue has a foldout cover, or because the photo got cut off. Instead, it's a representation of the anonymous women who came forward to share their stories with Time.
Time national correspondent Charlotte Alter appeared on BuzzFeed News' morning show AM to DM on Wednesday, and she explained the meaning behind the striking imagery.
"That's very intentional," Alter said of the elbow. "That's an anonymous woman who is a hospital worker who was experiencing harassment and didn't feel that she could come forward."
Alter explained that the worker shared her story with Time, but she hasn't publicly identified herself.
"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 said on the morning show. "It's important to include people who have to stay anonymous for professional reasons, who don't have the resources to weather what would happen if they lost their job or they couldn't support their families. So we wanted to include people where, to really reference the risk that these women are taking by speaking out about this."
Within the Time feature, the women who remained anonymous posed for photos with their faces turned away from the photographers' cameras. Their stories are a reminder that sexual harassment isn't just a Hollywood issue — it affects people in all industries. The Time feature includes stories from a strawberry picker, a former office assistant, and women in other professions, highlighting just how widespread sexual misconduct is. It's vital that we listen to these women's stories, and those of other survivors, in order to move forward and stop harassment.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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