That Time I Read Cosmo - and Unleashed a Hurricane of Judgment on Them
I have never been the biggest fan of Cosmopolitan magazine, mainly because it looks so intimidating. What business do I have reading about “50 new moves that will keep you and your man red hot in the bedroom this winter” , or anything else along those lines? I haven’t done any conclusive research, but I just don’t believe that there can be that many “new and exciting positions” each and every month.
It just never looked like there was any real reading to be done in Cosmo – only scandalous how-to diagrams and pictures of shirtless men. This time, my curiosity got the better of me and I bought the January issue, which is also the “Sexiest Men in SA” calendar issue. This issue is probably Cosmo’s most popular one of the year, and I have been interested in a detached way in the past – but never enough to actually buy into it – until today.
I went to the till thinking “it’s research: I need to know what type of magazine I could possibly be working for in the near future…” I needed to convince myself that my R32 was not going to waste.
The calendar is the main event of this issue, so I read those pages first. Some of the faces that were smiling, glaring and trying to smoulder up at me are not all familiar, which I suppose is remarkable because these lists tend to have the same names and faces on them year after year. The word that came to mind as I looked at the poses was “hilarious”: I just feel all the trying-to-be-sexy is ridiculous. And the shirtlessness just seems so awkward. I mean, imagine if a photographer said to you “strip, and smile for the camera – and get some oil on you… Trust me, you’ll look great…” Um, no.
|The packaging said "Now with raised abs that you can touch!" Tsk, tsk|
|The offending editor's letter|
Can’t people be “sexy” with clothes on? No, seriously: can’t they? In this situation it’s obvious that there needs to be an indaba to broaden this narrow (and slightly embarrassing) definition and demonstration of sexiness. All they’re doing here is looking at who goes to the gym the most, and who has the best tattoos. That’s so boring.
Two minutes later, I’m beginning to think the other thing that bothers me about this feature is that there is just no allure or sense of seduction. It’s just a half-naked man – no backstory or detail – and I’m supposed to be intrigued by that? I’m going to throw this calendar away.
And then I saw the interview questions. Ohmigod, the interview questions. I can’t.
Here is a bunch of guys who I have already judged pretty harshly, trying to be interesting and appealing – with a huge splash of Brutal Fruit marketing for added effect. So that’s why we’re here: alcohol + hot guys + women being encouraged to “get flirty” (with people who can’t actually flirt back) = lots and lots of money. Okay, Brutal Fruit – I see what you’re doing here.
I’m not saying I’m not interested in seeing the results of hours of hard work in the gym – that would be a lie. Of course I’m interested. But I can only accept the showing-off of a typically “good body” in small doses and after a suitable storyline has played out to develop a little bit of character, i.e. only in the movies.
I need to be able to justify my perv-ing – on the few occasions that I’ll admit to myself that I’m actually doing it.
To Cosmo’s credit, the editor’s letter does acknowledge that these are just ordinary people putting on a show, and they deserve a bit of sympathy and encouragement for the way they are putting themselves out there to be scrutinised during this little competition. Ag, shame.
There is nothing about the cover star, or about which other stories are particularly good this month. Isn’t an editor’s letter supposed to give some type of overview of the issue…?
The rest of the magazine, at a glance
Rita Ora looks great on the cover as well as in the pictures which accompany the main article. There’s something about the shots that gives the impression that she knows exactly how to work the camera: the images are daring, unique, and of course youthful. The production team at this shoot knew exactly what they were doing.
There is a strategically placed Rimmel ad on the last page of the feature, reminding readers of where else they have seen Ora’s face, and encouraging them to buy products which will help mimic her look.
The regular “Youniverse” section of the magazine looks impressive, with articles on managing finances and “changing the world”.
The short feature on the celebrity phone hacking scandal that made headlines towards the end of 2014 is topical, and it gives insight into the thoughts of one of the women who was targeted.
The word “manthropology” appears large on one of the pages of the regular “sex and relationships” section. I just know that I am going to need all my strength before I start reading that. The tips and advice that usually comes from this section always seems like so much hard work – it’s all these outlandish tricks that we apparently “must-try” if we are to understand, get and keep a man.
The fashion pages, on the other hand, are much less daunting. The beachwear shoot was done on location in Zanzibar, and it features a model who is not as flat-bellied as those who are normally seen in magazines such as this. The young woman is not quite plus-size (maybe 2015 will be the year for that?), but this is a noticeable step in the right direction.