The tradition of TIME magazine to name the Person of the Year started way back in 1927. It was then called ‘Man of the Year.’ Only at the turn of the century, in 1999, the Man of the Year was renamed the ‘Person of the Year.’ Unfortunately, despite the change in name, the award was predominantly still bagged by men.
TIME magazine has, in March 2020, came up with the ‘100 Women of the Year’ project to underscore influential women who were overshadowed. According to TIME editor-in-chief Nancy Gibbs, “this project is an exercise in looking at the ways in which women held power due to systemic inequality.”
TIME has created 89 new TIME covers for women for each year from 1920, the year that women gained the right to vote. The 11 covers for women who had already been named Person of the Year have remained intact.
And the covers are nothing short of breathtaking!
Here are a few of those covers:
1924: Coco Chanel
Born in 1883, Coco Chanel, a French fashion designer and businesswoman, was the founder of the Chanel brand. She was widely credited with liberating women from the traditional restrictive corsets and frills and moving them to sporty, casual wear that included dresses, suits, and pleated skirts. Chanel herself designed the now iconic interlocked CC-monogram, which is synonymous with the brand Coco Chanel.
1929: Virginia Woolf
Considered a pioneer modernist, Virginia Woolf is one of the most renowned and influential writers of the 20th century. Also regarded as a feminist, she wrote the much-quoted dictum, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”
1935: Amelia Earhart
Born in 1897, Amelia Earhart was an aviation pioneer. Across her life, she held multiple aviation records that included being the first woman to fly the Atlantic in 1928, the first woman to fly the Atlantic solo in 1930, the first person to fly the Atlantic twice in 1932, and the first woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1932. Unfortunately, she disappeared when attempting a round-the-world flight in July 1937.
“Women must try to do things as men have tried,” Earhart famously said. “When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.”
1949: Simone de Beauvoir
Born in 1908, Simone de Beauvoir was a French writer, feminist, and political activist. One of her most notable works was ‘The Second Sex,’ – a cornerstone of women’s feminist movement – which detailed women’s oppression.
1954: Marilyn Monroe
A massive popular culture icon, Marilyn Monroe needs little introduction. Overcoming a difficult childhood, she became one of the biggest stars of Hollywood with her films grossing more than $200 million. She passed away at the ripe age of 36 but her her mysticism and her glamour continues to enthrall audience across the world.
1967: Zenzile Miriam Makeba
Known by her nickname ‘Arican Mama,’ Makeba was a South African Grammy Award winning singer and civil rights activist. Born in Johannesburg in 1932, she was forced into exile in the United States by the South African government for her strong condemnation of the state. Once the apartheid began to crumble, she came back to South Africa in 1990 and used her music to inspire a generation of Africans. One of the first African artists to receive global recognition and fame, Makeba was also named a UN goodwill ambassador in 1999.
1979: Tu Youyou
Tu Youyou was a Chinese pharmacist and malariologist, who is best known for her discovery of Artemisinin, which is used to treat malaria. This discovery helped in saving millions of lives. Remarkably, when she isolated Artemisinin, which she believed would help cure the disease, she herself volunteered to be the first human subject. She became the first scientist from mainland China to have received a Nobel Prize in a scientific category.
1987: Princess Diana
In the year 1987, Princess Diana did something no one else would either dream or dare of doing. In times when AIDS patients were persecuted and discriminated against, Diana accepted the invitation by Middlesex Hospital to inaugurate the first ward in the United Kingdom dedicated tot he treatment of HIV and AIDS. She not only inaugurated the ward but also shook hands with 12 patients afflicted with the disease without gloves – an act that was without precedent.
A nurse present at Diana’s historic original visit told the BBC, “If a royal was allowed to go in and shake a patient’s hands, somebody at the bus stop or the supermarket could do the same. That really educated people.”
1998: J. K Rowling
It was in 1998 that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – the first edition of the Harry Potter series – was published in the United States. And the rest, as they say, is history. The Harry Potter fantasy series have sold more than 500 million copies across the world and have won multiple prestigious awards. Rowling is widely credited with igniting the interest of young children to reading at a time when most of them were moving away from this habit.
2004: Oprah Winfrey
In 2003, media mogul, actor, and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey had already made her mark as the first African American woman to make it to Forbes’ list of billionaires. However, in 2004, she did something that will be remembered forever! She gave away a whopping 276 Pontiac G6 cars to all her studio audience at the season premiere of The Oprah Winfrey Show to celebrate the talk show’s 19th season. According to Time, “You get a car! You get a car! Everybody gets a car!” became shorthand for any modern miracle.
2016: Hillary Clinton
In 2016, Hillary Clinton came closest to a woman holding the office of the President of the United States – she became the first woman in the history of the United States to become the presidential nominee of a major political party. Despite winning the popular vote, she lost the presidential election to Republican Donald Trump in the Electoral College. However, along her way, Clinton has broken stereotypes, inspired many women to pursue their dreams, and had an illustrious political career.
If you want to look at the entire list of women on the covers, click here.
Who else do you think should have been on the covers? Do let us know your views in the comments section below.0