This may be the longest any feminist blog has gone without writing about everything that is wrong with Cosmpolitan magazine. I admit it that it's a (very) guilty pleasure, and I do read it fairly often. And as often as I appreciate the tips and stories in it, I get angry at some of the ridiculously outdated advice they continue to give (among so many other problems)...
So, to start: the cover. Cover model Demi Lovato who has battled (and beat) an eating disorder, is the woman of the issue. She is interviewed inside about her past struggles and mental illness (bipolar disorder). As in every issue, Cosmo shows a handwritten mini interview - with multiple choice questions like what kind of guy they usually go for. So one question was "I couldn't date someone who didn't love my _____" Lovato's answer? "CURVES!!!".
Which is great! What a perfect answer for someone battling an eating disorder. It is truly wonderful to hear about a woman who is proud of their body. So what does Cosmo do to celebrate such security and confidence? They airbrush her curves, in essence eliminating her waist from the cover photo. So hey, thanks Cosmo for once again juxtaposing a great confidence boost like a celebrity who loves her body with a picture of that same woman that's designed to make women hate their own bodies.
If only it ended there. Then i come across some true-to-form Cosmo advice. In their column, "Ask Him Anything," one woman writes "If you meet a cute guy at a party, what's the best way to initiate exchanging phone numbers?"Now, if it were me writing the answer, I'd probably say something akin to:
Why is this a question? The best way to initiate an exchange is to say "hey, it's been really great talking with you, do you mind if I get your number so we can do this again sometime." That seems reasonable to me, and if a guy wanted to get my number, I'd expect him to say something along those lines as well.
Cosmo's answer? "[...]Let him initiate it - it makes him feel manly to be the one picking you up [...]"
Seriously? Are we living in 1950? Are women still not supposed to speak up, or out, or go after what they want? I have never subscribed to that idea. Ever. When I want a guy, I go for him, and it's also never failed me. Bottom line, to me, is, if you ask a guy for his number and he doesn't like the fact that you're so forward, then, seriously...why are you still attracted to him? That's definitely a deal breaker for me. I'd prefer my men to respect a woman with the confidence to do what they want.
Next crappy piece of advice in their " Your Biggest Love Qs (Answered in 20 Words or Less)" column"
Q: My boyfriend is gaining weight, and I'm not that turned on by him anymore. Can I say something?
My answer? Break up with him. Not because he gained weight, but because if something that trivial and superficial can affect your feelings for him, the relationship is obviously doomed. You should be turned on by HIM, not his looks, or his physique, or his weight.
Cosmo's Answer? Yes, tell him, but nicely. Suggest the two of you hit the gym more often.
Really Cosmo? Let's celebrate superficiality! Let's help make men feel just as self conscious as women, cause hell, why not? If your boyfriend is obese, then sure, for his health, it's important to help in some weight loss. But just to have him be your object of lust? If you can't see the problem with this advice, then God help us all...
In the same column, is some advice that I actually talked about, in depth, in a previous post...
Q: After five years of dating, my boyfriend still hasn't popped the question. Is there anything I can do to speed up the process?
My answer? Who cares? What's more important, the man you love, or a materialistic ceremony that celebrates a lifelong committment, although in 50+% of cases, people break up (on average after 10 years)??
Cosmo's answer? Tell him you want to get married, and if he's the right guy, he'll marry you.
ARE YOU NUTS?! I can't think of a worse answer. Literally, cannot fathom worse advice to give a woman, let alone the 3+ million subscribers and other casual readers. Here's a better idea, Cosmo, if he's the right guy, she shouldn't feel the need to pressure him into doing something he doesn't want to do. And if she's the right girl, and he doesn't want to get married, they should be able to talk about it without breaking up, and without problem, regardless of outcome. For the last time, marriage is NOT the be all end all. Relationships are NOT a means to an end. People are not pawns, used solely to increase likelihood of that piece of paper that says there's a committment. Marriage is supposed to be a celebration of love, not a celebration of verbal coercion...
Next advice column problem: Colum titled "15 Times to Always Say No," one of which is when "the lame-looking dudes at the end of the bar just sent you and your girls a round of shots. Because if you said yes, then you'd have to actually converse with them. *Shudder*"
Two issues with this advice - (1) nothing, including a guy buying you a drink, should make anyone feel compelled to do something they don't want to, including talking to a guy. If a guy buys you a drink, all you need to say is "thank you." Past that, it's entirely up to you. And problem number (2) is why not talk to the "lame-looking" guys? Why not give them a chance? You have no idea who they are, or what they're like, and clearly they're at least nice enough to buy you a drink. Again, put your superficiality aside and just live your damn life.
Last major problem with this issue? "Girlie Decor That Won't Freak Him Out" - an article about how to make your living space more appealing to men. Here's a better idea, Cosmo readers, how about you decorate your home....the way you want. If you want pink, do pink. If you love unicorns, buy unicorn adorned items. Who the hell cares what anyone else thinks? You're the one living in it. Does anyone honestly think men are decorating their homes to appeal to women? No, because why should they? Same idea as mentioned previously, if a guy doesn't want to come over or spend time at your place simply because you have too many "girly" things, then why are you with him at all? If he cares about that, you shouldn't care about him. A home should reflect your personality, and who you are. It should not reflect the personality of the (apparent asshole) men you're bringing home from the bars.
I am not a drone. Not an object. Not a marriage obssessed, superficial bimbo. Please stop treating me as such. I am a woman. I am independent, I have my own personality that I love and that I love others to know about. I choose the people I allow into my life based on how they interact with me, the real me. I don't alter my looks, my personality, or my home based on the man I'm hoping to attract.
Three million subscribers. Three million women listening to this advice every.single.month. Countless others who buy off the stands. People who believe in these words.
It's time to stop, Cosmo. Your reach is too ubiquitous, your ideas too pervasive. Step up, and starting working for WOMEN. Not for men.