Evidently it’s the “list” time of year, and so far black girls are winning. On Tuesday, People magazine debuted its 50 Most Beautiful issue, starring none other than media (and fan) darling Lupita Nyong’o on the cover. Not to be outdone, this morning, Time released its annual 100 Most Influential People issue, featuring singer Beyoncé on its cover. Nyong’o’s issue went over pretty well (at least in my circles). Beyoncé’s, though? Um … not so much.
In her Time bio, ’Yoncé is lauded by Lean In author and Facebook honcho Sheryl Sandberg, who effusively praises the singer-actress-performer turned wife-mother-feminist. Sandberg makes a brief but solid argument that plays off Sandberg’s lean-in catchphrase: “Beyoncé doesn’t just sit at the table. She builds a better one.”
Sandberg describes how Bey’s last album—the self-titled audiovisual gem she dropped with zero notice or promotion last December—“shattered music industry rules and sales records.” (That’s not just fan hype. Beyoncé holds the record for fastest-selling album in iTunes history and has sold more than 3 million copies.) Sandberg goes on to mention Bey’s sold-out world tour and notes the singer’s (somewhat shaky) track record of raising “her voice both on- and offstage to urge women to be independent and lead.” (Admittedly, she’s getting better.)
I’m far from being Beyoncé’s biggest fan—though I love the latest album—but it’s hard to argue that she doesn’t have the influence to earn that Time-cover spot. I expected people to try to argue against it anyway, because, well, that’s what the Internet is there for. But nope, folks surprised me. Instead, everyone’s talking about what Beyoncé looks like on the Time cover, as if she’s over there with Nyong’o on People’s Most Beautiful cover.
I have to ask, though: Should it really matter what she looks like?
Apparently. The (sad) consensus among many social media readers is that this Time cover isn’t Bey’s best look. The complaints are many:
She’s “too skinny”—“look at her thighs!”
“She looks sick!”
“Her hair is too straight” or “too blonde!”
“She looks white!!!”