MIA: This Beyonce cover is making some people upset.






On a scale of 1 to Outrage, I’m struggling to care too much about this one.

Beyonce is on the cover of TIME magazine’s annual list of the world’s 100 Most Influential People.

And all by itself, this is a big deal. A big great deal.

She is a black woman who is nobody’s puppet. She is a mother. She is the boss of herself and her empire and I can’t think of too many other female pop stars who could say the same.

She is an empire ruled by Queen Bey and the fact that it is being recognised by one of the oldest and most credible publications in the world is a cause for celebration.

As Beyonce would say: Bow down bitchez.

Some people aren’t happy though, because on the cover Beyonce is wearing undies. Or possibly a white swimsuit. But most people agree it’s undies. Either way, the result is super sexy, lots of flesh. The usual way women appear in pop culture.

Interestingly, in the other published photos from her TIME shoot you can see that originally Beyonce was wearing a white dress while sitting on a stool. Now, who knows when the dress came off or who made the decision that it should.

What we do know – for sure –  is that Beyonce’s cover is very different to the other three covers that were printed for the same issue of TIME:

And this is what has prompted a whole lot of negative reaction. As the magazine is celebrating Beyonce’s business achievements and successes which have led to her influence on our society, many are questioning if underwear was an appropriate way to illustrate that. Or celebrate it.


Here is a sample of the reaction:

“You decide she’s the most influential person. In the world. And then you let her grace your cover in her underwear. You don’t see how pathetic that is?” reader Elisavet Papoutsi wrote on TIME’s Facebook page.

“Why is Beyoncé in her bra and pants on the cover of time magazine, while all the men are pictured looking bloodily (sic) intellectual,” tweeted journalist Sarah Vine.

“IMO it looks really sleazy and slutty and she is a mother that needs to be a better role model,” writes another reader.

And this is where I start arguing with myself about Beyonce’s undies because I’m not sure exactly how I feel about this cover.

First of all, I think we can agree it’s BEYONCE not Hillary Clinton.

“It’s Beyonce, not Hillary Clinton.”

If Hillary was in her underwear or Sheryl Sandberg or Oprah, then totally, I would be calling out TIME for being sexist hypocrites. But this is like Beyonce’s work uniform. Undies are not a new thing for her. Sexy and skin are signature Bey.

So it’s not that big a deal, surely, that she would be wearing them on a magazine cover. And it’s almost guaranteed that nobody handed Beyonce those undies and said, “Put these on”. This woman is completely in control of her image and her wardrobe.
She also knows what sells.

Part of the appeal and achievement of Beyonce is that she’s earned her right to control every part of her image.

BUT. (Another but.)

I kind of get where the upset is coming from. Sure Beyonce has the power to choose what she wears, and what’s wrong with being sexy, and feminism is about choice, and stop undie-shaming, and blah blah.

Let’s be clear that what Beyonce does is sing. She has an incredible voice. Is that synonymous with taking your clothes off?

Like every discussion about sexism, this isn’t about one woman’s choice. Because nobody makes decisions about how they portray themselves in a vacuum. Our decisions may be individual but we all make them within a context of society’s expectations.


That’s why to me, this isn’t even remotely about Beyonce. The pushback on the cover is exasperation that to BECOME influential, to reach the level of fame and power she has, Beyonce had to show a lot of skin. She still does. Hell, Madonna still does and she’s 57.

Lorde and Taylor Swift are just about the only big female popstars who have managed to keep their gear on. And they are nowhere near the level of Beyonce or Madonna.

So what does that say to you about what a woman needs to do to become influential?

Will Lorde or Taylor Swift ever be on that list?

Do you think Lorde or Taylor Swift will ever be on the Most Influential People In The World list? Will they ever climb that high? Could any woman rise to that level of pop culture power in our society while keeping her clothes on? I hope so but I doubt it.

So in that respect, I understand the people who are disappointed by this cover.

Before we just roll our eyes and say “get over it”, I think these are questions worth thinking about. No need to stage a protest or a boycott or anything like that. In terms of issues detrimentally affecting women, it is hardly on the scale of this, this or this. 

But I always think it’s good to question the wallpaper of our lives.

Why is female power so often associated with taking off clothes? Would it have killed everyone for Bey to wear a frock? Surely Beyonce is just as powerful with all her clothes on, right? And if she’s not, then yes, maybe there is something to be a little outraged about.

Do you like the Beyonce’s TIME magazine cover? Do you think she should have been wearing more clothing? Do you think part of Beyonce’s power comes from her sexuality? Would Beyonce be as successful if she weren’t ‘sexy’?