Bea Feitler: Good Will to PEOPLE

Ms. magazine was founded in 1972 by Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes. Following an extremely successful first year of publication, Ms. Magazine spread its first holiday issue in December 1972. The Australian Women’s history Network writes, “In seeking to maintain its secular feminist perspective while cultivating a religiously respectful tone, the December 1972 cover by Brazilian designer Bea Feitler boldly proclaimed: “PEACE ON EARTH GOOD WILL TO PEOPLE.” As art director of Ms. until 1974, Feitler created a series of powerful, graphic covers, many featuring compelling illustrations and typographic compositions. This message, more than others they typically featured, was controversial. Utilizing the red and green colors deeply associated with the Christmas season and tweaking the tones to hot pink and fluorescent green, it concurrently refashioned a foundational Christian phrase “with emotive resonance surrounding the holiday season.” The phrase Ms. sought to redefine is derived from the King James Bible. Luke 2:14 recounts the moments after Christ Jesus’ birth. After an angel tells of the coming of the Messiah, more angels appear, saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Although I personally can argue a linguistic link between the word “men” and “human”, I think the message still remains powerful. So much so that Ms. magazine reprinted the same message differently later on in the magazines lifespan and Gloria Steinem said in her December 1980 salutations: “We at VIDA say to you this holiday season: It is too late to justify suffering with the promise of rewards in some other world. Too late for nationalism, for racism, for violence or for the belief that one can win only if another has truly lost. Too late even for the brotherhood of man because it has excluded the sisterhood of woman – and therefore the humanness of us all. At last we begin. We look into the god in each of us, and say yes. We celebrate the world outside us. We say peace on earth, good will to people.”


Bea Feitler

“Peace on earth good will to people”: Holiday reflections on Ms. Magazine