There is a lot of pink in Cosmo. This is what the October 2010 cover looks like:
Because pink is a ladies color! And Cosmo is for ladies!
I fail to understand why pink is the go-to color for femininity/princesses/etc. I also fail to understand many things, such as why Theresa Giudice went into bankruptcy dressing her children* up as a cross between Playboy bunnies and petits fours.
This Jezebel article on Peggy Orenstein’s upcoming book about “the new girlie-girl culture” is what got me thinking about 1. all of this OMG PINK!!!! stuff we see in Cosmo, on crappy reality TV, and in every VS storefront, and 2. How this focus on sex and “sexiness” is targeting more than just adults.
Cosmo is a publication targeted at young, professional women. However, it’s also widely read by college and high school students. When I was waiting to go in for an audition during high school, my classmates marveled over Cosmo’s sex tip of the month. We were 14 at the time.
I’m not saying that 14 year olds aren’t/shouldn’t be having sex, but I thought it was weird that was the first thing everyone gravitated to–even for my classmates who weren’t having, or interested in having sex.
This whole obsession with “sexy”, a word that Cosmo uses again and again and again and again and again is not only damaging to Cosmo’s target audience, but also to the teenagers who view Cosmo as a window into grown-upness.
I’m not saying that Cosmo shouldn’t talk about sex. It is a women’s magazine, so it should not be worried about being G-rated. But this weird amalgamation of combining grown-up topics (money-saving tips, relationship and sex advice, expensive clothes) with a weirdly juvenille sensiblility (the use of the nickname Va-Jay-Jay on the cover, treating sex as this OMG! NAUGHTY!!! thing rather than a normal part of life, an excess of pink everything) is confusing and trite.
The things that Cosmo (and every other “women’s magazine” on the market) writes about (fashion, beauty, sex, relationships) aren’t necessarily trivial. However, Cosmo trivializes them by making them into an impersonation or elaborate game of dress-up. We’re not supposed to have sex because it feels good and brings us closer to our partner(s), we’re supposed to have sex to drive our (presumably male) partner “wild”. We’re not supposed to wear clothes that make us look or feel good, we should wear clothes that fit a very narrow definition of “sexy” (so we can “get” that man that we can sexually please). Everything that Cosmo recommends is meant for self-gratification, but for pleasing someone else. Even the recipes in the very back of the magazine aren’t there because they are tasty/nutritious/healthy/affordable, they’re there because they will make our man happy!
Maybe high school freshmen won’t eagerly devour Cosmo’s (horrible) sex advice, and maybe six-year olds won’t feel like they have to wear lipstick on a regular basis, and maybe we can all stop perpetuating this pink pretty princess crap if we all stop buying into this media-fueled desire to be a female impersonator.
“Women are all female impersonators to some degree”–Susan Brownmiller.
*I can’t be the only person who secretly wishes that Theresa’s kids grow up to be freegans who set up their own anarcha-feminist commune.