The influence this magazine has on women saddens me. In fact, the consequences of what this magazine teaches, reenforces and cultivates in our culture as a whole saddens me.
Let’s take a look at the headlines and try to figure out what this magazine is teaching young women to value:
“75 Sex Moves that Men Crave”
Now, I recognize that not all people feel that sex should be between a married, monogamous couple. I’m also aware that many people who do believe that have failed to uphold their values on different occasions. Things happen, people fail. I believe God has grace for that. My beef with this is not that it gives people who have sex outside of marriage advice, or even that it openly discusses sex. My issue is that every single issue of Cosmo has some slight variation of this EXACT headline in this EXACT place. It is almost always in the biggest lettering, in a bold font in a color that causes it to contrast and stand out from the background. This makes sex out to be the most important thing that this magazine has to offer. This also makes sex appear to be the most important thing in the world to girls who take this magazine too seriously. People will tell me that they personally don’t feel that way and read Cosmo for many years. I too am often the exception to many observations. However, being an exception doesn’t change the fact that when you look at how 13 year olds act now compared to how 13 year olds acted when I was in middle school (a mere 8 years ago) the difference is like watching Jersey Shore and Lizzy McGuire.
Reality: Sex is a part of being human, but it is by no means the most important. If you are that obsessed with sex, you should find a hobby or a sport to throw yourself into and use some of that built up energy and passion.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be groomed, clean and attractive. However, to look sexy has a completely different connotation. It carries ideas about unrealistic expectations of how one’s body should look and where one’s value lies. Let’s face the facts, women are expected to have bodies that less than 2% of the population can achieve. When this doesn’t happen, it often leads to depression, self-harm and, most often, eating disorders. Women grow up believing that their value comes from how they look, rather than how they think.
Reality: Your ideas, your drive and your ability to love people matter far more than your waist size or your ability to apply flawless eyeliner.
“Call Him or Text?”
I almost don’t even want to touch that horrible way that these magazines twist the interaction between men and women. They make men out to be some strange, alien species that needs to be researched in order to unlock their secrets. No! Men are people! The ones that haven’t been brainwashed by Spike TV or Men’s Health all hurt, get sad, can fall in love, have regrets, get depressed, get happy, like to [insert hobby that doesn’t involve naked women, sports or video games]. The problem is that both genders have been stripped away of their humanity and freedom of expression by our society and told that they need to fit into these little boxes. If they don’t, they are immediately punished with terms like “faggot”, “dyke”, “sissy”, “butch”….etc. I’m a girl who loves MMA and would do it if I had the time to get back in shape. I also like skateboarding and other extreme sports. My boyfriend reads cheesy carpathian novels (those are vampire love stories…just so you know) and cooking is one of his favorite past times. None of these things make me less of a woman or him less of a man. Yet, the media (which includes this magazine) tells us that these are not what is attractive to the opposite sex (once again, let’s make sex the focus of everything).
Reality: When men and women treat each other as humans and discuss things openly and honestly, most of the communication barriers break down and the mystery and confusion dissipates.
“25 Times You Shouldn’t Apologize”
My issue with this is simple: If you did something wrong, you should apologize. If you didn’t, but it still hurt the person, you should discuss how to fix it with them. If they are completely psycho and wanting you to apologize for things like the color of your skin or something you achieved fair and square…then ignore them. No mind games needed.
The bottom line:
I have many, many issues with this magazine. However, my main problem is that it is simply misinformation. It creates a world where men and women have to manipulate one another to get what they want out of the other. This makes for a world where no one can be trusted. It also makes for a world full of shallow people who don’t value innovative thinking, sacrificial love of others, forgiveness, high moral standards of behavior and respect for each person simply because they are a person.
No. We want a world full of unbridled sexual exploitation, where men and women serve as devices of physical pleasure for one another, rather than sentient beings that carry valuable thoughts and feelings. We want pretty, plastic shells that go with the flow and don’t force us to think about the meaning of life, or what happens when we die, or if we’re wasting the time we’ve been given on this earth. We want mint dresses and coral accessories, and to give no thought to the the Indian children who are being exploited to make them. We want food without calories or nutrition and bodies that would make concentration camp victims feel right at home. We don’t want to be bothered with anything hard, or that evokes more emotion that the feeling of dancing tipsy in a night club with meaningless rap lyrics on repeat and a drum beat that was manufactured on a machine.
The definition of the word cosmopolitan is to “have a worldwide rather than limited or provincial scope or bearing.” I couldn’t have thought of a more ironic title for a magazine that represents such a narrow worldview.