Tuesday, April 4, 2017

I'm a Magazine that Should No Longer Exist

I’m one of the oldest magazines in the country and I’ve had a good run. But the sad fact is I should no longer exist. It’s hard for me to come out and say this, but by sharing my story with the world I’m hoping that other magazines like me will have the courage to also cease existing.

I know what it looks like from the outside: I’m this empowering source of fierce, sexually confident feminism and no one gets to define what that means for me. Doing so and trying to call me out for being “shallow” is itself a form of oppression! 

Just because I care about makeup and fashion doesn’t mean I’m dumb and can’t ALSO care about quote unquote “real stuff.” Especially with articles like “This Female Politician Refused to Apologize for Calling Out her White Male Colleagues” and “Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro: We Will Win the Fight for Equal Pay.”

Sure, granted. There are quite a few of those types of articles inside of me.

But deep down, I’ve always known that my lip service to substantive issues can’t hide my hundreds of pages of advertising and insidious messaging that far outstrip any real content between my glossy covers.

It was sometime in the 1960s that I first realized I was actually just a profit-generating tool for the media-industrial celebrity worship complex that objectifies women and promotes rape culture starting from before puberty. 

Here are some of my articles written just this month in cloying tween-speak: “These Students Invented the Ultimate Hangover Remedy, Because Hey, That’s What College is For,” “Kim Kardashian and Pat McGrath are Revealing Something Major Tomorrow,” “You Need This Glowy Makeup Tutorial in Your Life,” “24 Totally Fierce Gladiator Sandals You’ll Want to Live in All Summer,” “What Kind of Maid of Honor You’ll be Based on Your Sign, and “What Does Boho Mean?”

I publish these articles because it’s what my readers want. However, the reason they want it in the first place is because I tell them they need it from the minute they become aware of their gender. 

See what I did there?

There are only so many hours in a day and so much bandwidth in a person’s brain. Every moment someone spends thinking about how to get (and pay for) the perfect smoky eye to make her man go crazy in bed is a minute she’s not spending thinking about other stuff. Stuff that doesn’t necessarily pertain to her physical attractiveness and sexual desirability, which matter, of course, but let’s be honest, occupy an outsized portion of real estate in magazines like me. 

As a result, physical attractiveness and sexual desirability in turn occupy an outsized portion of real estate in women’s—and worse, girls’—minds, all of which ultimately keeps my readers from realizing their full potential as human beings because they are too busy scrutinizing the abs on my photo-shopped models, starving themselves, and running up and down on a treadmill all day to look like Selena Gomez.

I’m not proud of what I’ve become, but again, I hope that by sharing my story, others like me—and there are hundreds of us—will be brave enough to vaporize into the ether forever.


Cosmopolitan September 2015.jpg

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