Recently the blogosphere and Twitter was full of indignation – Cosmopolitan Magazine referred to an Australian model as “Plus Size Model Robyn Lawley” – the furore was centred upon why she was being referred to as “plus size” when in fact she is clearly very fit with no superfluous flesh at all on her – the photo below illustrates this.
Now this is just one instance of what is par for the course for this magazine. Cosmopolitan magazine claims to be all about helping women live a better life, but in reality, the magazine is rubbish.
Cosmopolitan Magazine in all its versions including Cosmo India, is supposed to be about love, relationship advice, fashion tips, careers and so on. On the face of it, the magazine is supposed to be aimed at fun, fearless women – independent, career oriented, strong, empowered individuals. But in reality, there are many reasons why this magazine is pernicious – it makes women feel inadequate, sets unrealistic standards, creates unachievable aspirations and insidiously perpetuates certain stereotypes. In many cases the content of this magazine is just plain silly!
I know this because I have had to read a few issues of Cosmo as I wait at the dentist’s waiting area! But seriously, there are many reasons why I feel this is not a women’s magazine at all, because according to Cosmo:
- The ‘ideal’ of feminine beauty is skinny with perfect hair and makeup. It isn’t just that the called that Australian model ‘plus size’ – just a cursory glance at any Cosmo cover will tell you that those worthy of being on the cover of the magazine have to be size 0 or as close to it as possible. They should have a stylist and should just have spent hours on their hair and makeup and a fortune on their dress.
- Apparently the aim of a woman’s life is to get it right in bed – no Cosmo cover is without a reference to intimacy, the Big O or action between the sheets. There is detailed, explicit ‘advice’ and no end of ‘tips’ – the idea is that if you’re sorted in the bedroom, well you’ve achieved most of what you need to in life.
- Being glamorous is a worthy life ambition – The endless make up tutorials, pictures of exorbitant clothing, and the ‘news’ about season trends featuring near anorexic, sulky looking women sends women the message that whatever else you may or may not aspire to in life, being glamorous and well turned out is an absolute necessity.
- Shopping makes you happy – why else would Cosmo constantly bombard us with the information about the latest bags and the newest couture lines and the most coveted shoes?
- Relationship ‘advice’ and ‘tips’ will solve all your problems – Having a stranger telling you what your problem is will instantly resolve all life difficulties and let you live a fulfilled and happy life.
- How you look is more important than most things – Cosmo professes to address the career oriented female demographic. But beyond offering the inevitable ‘tips’ on power dressing and (sigh! Again!) makeup advice or perhaps the occasional suggestion about using one’s feminine allure to further professional goals – there is really no evidence of this.
- Really useless and completely shallow articles are quite OK to print – “Ways to talk Trash” seriously they did this article a while back – this is Cosmo’s idea of a ‘helpful tips’ article.
- Celebrities Doing Things is apparently news. Also apparently articles about Celebrities Doing Things is worthy of devoting pages and pages of the magazine to.
- “How to please your man” is something that women apparently need to read about every month – in some way or the other, the magazine finds a way to tell women that “pleasing your man” is not only important, it is something that women need to devote a lot of time and energy to. Women’s empowerment? Well that’s a laugh!
- Cosmo targets underage girls. This is an accusation frequently leveled against Cosmo. With its bright colours, teenaged cover celebrities, extra large fonts, and trendy slang use, many believe that Cosmo is targeting a younger demographic – hugely inappropriate considering the very adult content the magazine has.
By – Reena Daruwalla
Image courtesy Wikipedia