The Vanity Fair cover that made some people uncomfortable

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from CNN,

By now you’ve seen Caitlyn (nee Bruce) Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair. You’ll find the portrait stunning: either because it is a beautiful portrait of a 65-year-old vixen who has found her power and freedom, or because you are stunningly uncomfortable looking at it.

It’s not the first time a magazine cover has sent our discomfort into overdrive:

In 1991, Vanity Fair put an oiled, pregnant and naked Demi Moore on its cover. She was bursting with life and flaunting her seven-months-pregnant body, barely hiding her breasts with her hands. The image — like Jenner’s, shot by Annie Leibovitz — was so shocking to societal norms that retailers hid the cover behind a brown paper sleeve. Two decades later, pregnancy is celebrated with body-clinging fashion, and beautiful belly shots show up in your newsfeed all the time.

What’s so powerful about iconic portraits is that they shift accepted norms and ignite something in you — immediately. There’s no doubt we’ll look back on this photo of Caitlyn Jenner and cite it as the tipping point in the movement for acceptance and rights for transgender people.

When Caitlyn’s portrait broke online, I was in the middle of a meeting and showed it to a lawyer sitting next to me.

“Doesn’t she look amazing?”

“He or she can do whatever they want to do, I’m just not comfortable with it.”

Our 14-year-old, said. “I think it’s cool that she can be who she wants to be. I’m just surprised all the Kardashians and the Jenners are on board with this. They just lost their dad. I don’t know how I’d feel if my dad became my mom.”

My 13-year-old niece was similarly supportive of Jenner’s transition, but “wondered why she didn’t spell her new name with a ‘K,’ so she would feel more connected to her daughters Kylie and Kendall.”

This kind of processing of something one doesn’t understand — this discomfort — is the way long-held personal and public beliefs begin to evolve. As society itself has evolved, we have moved from discrimination to discomfort to questioning to acceptance and support on every major equality issue: voting rights, desegregation and gay marriage.

It takes courage to deal with yourself, to stop lying to yourself and be who you were born to be. If there’s anything to learn from Caitlyn’s journey, it’s about discomfort, that mile maker on the road to acceptance. How much discomfort we all bear privately! How liberating it is when you finally are brave enough to face your fears, deal with your issues and live your truth.

Jenner will be awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at ESPN’s ESPYs in Los Angeles and join the ranks of fellow icons — Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela, Billie Jean King and Robin Roberts.

It took Caitlyn 65 years of battling discomfort to find the courage to be who she was meant to be. Judging by the life-affirming, powerful entrance she’s made, she’s clearly making up for lost time. Brava, Caitlyn. Brava!

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