Thursday, January 6, 2011

Why I Detest Cosmo

When I was a young, naive, teenage girl, I remember my mom would tell me that she'd purchase any magazine I wanted from Shoppers Drug Mart before our annual vacation to the East Coast so I'd have something to read in the car. My immediate response would always be, "I want a Cosmo!" (because all the cool girls my age were reading it.) My mom would hand me the desired magazine and I'd slightly blush as I read some of the cover headlines... things such as: "Our Most SHOCKING Sex Survey!", "Sex Sessions that End in the ER!" and, "How to Make your Man BEG for More!" With such smutty articles inside, it's a wonder my mom bought these trashy mags for me at all!

But she did, and so began my desire to be the BEST woman I could possibly be so that I could hook, snag, and keep the perfect man.

I groan inside when I think about how horribly naive and stupid I was back then. I let these magazines totally brainwash me into believing that I had to act and look a certain way to appeal to the opposite sex. In order to have ANY semblance of self worth I had to follow Cosmo's ridiculous work-out and diet regimens, I had to perform incredible sexual acts in bed, and if all else failed, the last pages of Cosmo always provided advertisements on plastic surgery for a quicker fix to perfection.

These magazines made me feel terribly insecure and inadequate. How would any guy EVER want to date me if I wasn't a size 4? I had never even kissed a guy before, let alone "make him scream with pleasure" behind closed doors! And the beautifully airbrushed women on the cover (who I was supposed to relate to) had nothing in common with me at all. Was this how I was supposed to look like if I wanted to attract a man? Apparently so.

As a much older (and hopefully wiser) woman, I now see the mind-games and manipulation at work in magazines like these that target themselves towards a demographic of impressionable, insecure young girls. Despite Cosmo's claims that their articles will change your love life, I now see that the brightly coloured (in every hue of pink imaginable) pages did not contain any award winning literature or life changing advice.

The #1 Secret of Confident Chicks, eh? Not likely.
I recently picked up a friend's Cosmo and was appalled by what I found. Of the 247 pages in the October 2009 issue (You know, the one with Megan Fox airbrushed, photo-shopped with her soulless stare on the cover), 140 pages were full page ads, 15 of them before you even get to the table of contents. This means that the magazine is just over 56 percent ads (all beauty products and clothing that will make your supposed drab and dull self appeal more to the bearded sex.) Of the roughly $20 you would pay for a year long subscription, you would be paying about $11.33 for the ads.

Cosmo just made me do math, which is another reason on my long list of why I detest them.

This doesn't even include all the pseudo-ads that look like an article at first, or even the ads that are clearly just promotional. The 'article' "All Night Long" was just a thinly veiled promotion for 12 products you can use to cover up any signs that you just got laid.

Oh, and don't get me started on the sex advice. Most of the "expert" advice in the articles tell young readers "don't bite that" and "don't put a finger in there." The worst part of all this advice is that most of it is given with the reasoning that your man will like and want this, and you must do these things to keep him. Decades of feminism and the strife of hundreds of women just went right down the drain.

"Bad girl sex - 12 moves to show him your really naughty side."

"His girlfriend wish list - Do you have these nine surprising traits?"

"50 sex tricks - Trust us: You'll be the first girl naughty enough to try #43 on him."

The only advice not centered around pleasing a man is the workout advice, and even then it is to tone your body to make him happy. Scour an entire year's worth of Cosmo and you might have enough literature that is legitimate self-empowering to fill a napkin.

And by self-empowering, I mean things like, "Hair that says 'Hire me!'", where you can forget about a well written resume and experience, as long as you have a stylish new bob or the right highlights, you'll be hired in no time!

The sad thing is, every Cosmo magazine is a cookie-cutter version of the next. They all aim to make a girl feel horrible about the way she naturally looks. They claim enhancements are vital if she is to ever go anywhere in life. And if you don't follow these tips? Well, you'll surely become an old spinster in a lonely corner with 12 cats and your grey roots showing for the world to see.

Cosmopolitan covers look painfully airbrushed. Take for instance, Britney Spears on the August 2010 issue. I understand that making Britney Spears look anything less than a mess is no easy task. But in this installment of Photoshop Experiments Gone Bad, I wish Cosmo would have been a tad less liberal with their magic wand.

The August cover features Britney's head and Britney's (airbrushed) body, but as two totally separate entities. It's as if they took half of the image from one shot, and the other half from a different shot, then cut and pasted them together, ransom-note style. In fact, that's pretty much exactly what they did.

How could Cosmo allow this cover to go to print? Unlike other photoshop errs, this one is impossible to miss. Could is be that they are trying to make people notice the hack job they did to poor Britney's neck?

How many times can you count the word "sex" on these covers?
So, yes, the girls on the cover of Cosmo magazine are literally Frankenstein-type versions of their real selves. What gets to me is that many young girls don't realize this. They think that these body types are real - and that's where eating disorders and severe depression steps in.

I'll admit that I have never been a size 4 in my entire life, and I probably never will be. But that's okay with me. As I've grown up I've learned to appreciate my curves, despite what the media and popular culture tell me is "sexy" and "desirable" by men. In fact, the men I've dated have all enjoyed the extra junk in my trunk that I carry around. As one boyfriend once said, "who wants to make love to a skeleton?" 

What these magazines are REALLY saying
It scares me that young girls are exposed to these image in the media today. Coupled with all the superficial television shows and movies out there now, I seriously think there should be classes within the school system at an early age that teach children (both girls and boys) that you don't have to look or act a certain way to be desired. It's okay to be a geek. It's okay to not have your ribs poking out of your chest. It's okay to just be you - whatever shape, size, or colour that you are.

Magazines like Cosmo just make me laugh today, but I do realize some people take these mags and the messages within them seriously. That's just not cool. I hope more empowering images of women of all sorts will soon grace the cover of magazines and be the new role models for impressionable young females. If not, I seriously worry for the women of the future. 

- Jennie


  1. Another top notch post... I can't really say much, since I only flip through Cosmo occassionally... and probably for the wrong reasons... but I've read through those list of things before, and laughed...