By now, the average person’s read a thousand tweets and a dozen think pieces rightfully criticizing Joel Stein’s Time cover story on kids these days and how they’re ruining America with their self-absorption, unemployment, and student debt. But in nearly a century of circulation, Time has missed the bar several times before. It’s probably inevitable when a major national publication attempts to constantly keep its finger on the zeitgeist (see every New York Times article ever written about Williamsburg), but more than a few Time cover stories — not to mention the covers themselves — have been laughably out of touch or just plain wrong. Click through for a look at some of Time‘s most extreme misses, from the inane to the outrageous to the outright offensive.
The Infamous “Breastfeeding Mom” (2012)
The actual content of the cover story is reasonable enough, exploring the phenomenon of “attachment parenting” and why one pediatrician thinks “wearing” babies is good for them. The choice of cover art, however, was more questionable: in order to make up for the lack of actual shock value in the piece itself (baby wearers are all over the place, after all), Time opted to put an attractive blonde woman breastfeeding her three-year-old child on its front page. Not only was the cover a blatant (but successful) grab for attention, it also sexualized motherhood in a rather uncomfortable way and dragged a poor toddler into the national spotlight. There is no way that kid’s going to live down that photo come high school.