Pros: A nice magazine if you're looking for "fluff".
Cons: Mixed messages given teen girls.
So, could a magazine with the name Cosmo in it be a magazine that would be appropriate for young teens? Could Cosmo actually produce a magazine that would be inoffensive to parents and adults yet be interesting for teenage girls? Well, my answer has to be, Yes and No.
As an adult, I remember reading Cosmopolitan Magazine monthly when I was in my twenties and thirties. Cosmopolitan Magazine was THE cutting edge magazine during the first ten years of publication. It was a magazine that the new generation of females devoured monthly because it professed to give empowerment to women. It monthly carried articles that all stressed premarital sex freedoms, the pill and other contraceptives, sexual ways to please your partner, and ways to ask guys out. Supposedly purported to be a womans libber magazine I always found in incongruent that one article might be a burn your bra type while the very next article gave copious advice on how to get your man. And not only have they continued the theme of getting your man over the years, but more current magazines discuss very intimate and sexual ways to get and hold him. I always asked, So do we not need a man because we are empowered, why are they telling me all the various sexual positions and toys that will get and keep a man? Confusing messages.
So, how could a mother magazine such as the one I described do better for the daughters? I decided to buy a few issues and find out. What I found was somewhat surprising and yet, upon final analysis, still a magazine with confused issues and conflicting messages.
The magazine is done very nicely using a lot of color and good grade paper. It is a glossy magazine. Many of the issues will have covers that feature a current teen star. Many of the covers also will open out into advertisements. Full pages of glossy advertisements. The magazine issue that I have in front of me has 32 advertisement pages before it even starts a one page column or article! So, if you buy this magazine, expect humongous numbers of advertising pages!
The contents and layout of the magazine are arranged nicely. Some of the monthly features include:
Cover Stories: Which lists where to find the stories that are advertised on the cover. This issue included an article about Gwen Stefani; Your Summer Love; and a couple more that pertained to starting back to school.
All About Guys: Lots of articles about boys such as Read His Mind (all about why guys like sports in this issue), Boy-O-Meter (which pictures a guy and lets girls vote on how hot he is or isnt, and Getta Date (which this issue covers the topic on how to let him down easy).
Fashion Diva: Many articles and pictures about fashions. Some examples covered are Rescue 911 (make overs), I Love These (this month jean jackets), Mall Rats, Leather by Day and by Night, and Pet Projects (which this month was accessories.) Also included is a personal quiz, this month on How Far Will You Go For Fashion?
Beauty Patrol: This section covers make-up and hair with an Ask the Expert column.
Health Kick: Only three articles under this topic in this issue. One about yoga, another about sniffing the guy next to you and also the truth about tampons.
Inside Scoop: This section deals with money, music, TV, movies and this month organizers.
Inner Girl: This talks about issues that concern young girls. The sub-topic breakdown in this issue includes; Im dreading school so now what? Confessions that will make you gasp, Best friends contest winners, Our editor answers your most agonizing questions, Are your friends bringing you down? Poof-your room is a gorgeous place, are a few.
Features: Get strong on the inside (advice written by six superstar female athletes; 25 things to do before school starts; How to have a boyfriend without ignoring your friends and family; CosmoGirl grooves with Destinys Child; a cartoon called The Adventures and Misadventures of CosmoGirl and I was seduced by my teacher.
Our Usuals: This section includes the monthly features such as Speak Up (rants and raves); Hey! (a letter from the editor); Ouch! (parents can be so embarrassing!; Pssst! When celebs lost their virginity; CosmoGirl! Spy (celebs say whats on their minds; Astro Logic (your horoscope); Lets Shop (where to buy all the stuff you love in the magazine; What?!? The hilarious things we think celebs are dying to say.
That about sums up the magazines contents. It has lots of articles about clothes, boys and celebrities. All of the topics that teen girls love to read about. Examples to share include:
The Ouch! Section had many shared family embarrassing moments and most of them were more embarrassing to read about than what happened. An example is: Once, I was at the beach and I was having my period (the menstrual cycle is mentioned throughout the magazine), so I just sat on the sand instead of swimming, since I dont like to wear tampons. My mom was in a bad mood and she practically screamed, Well, if youd just wear tampons, you wouldnt have this problem!
Getta Date section: Question: Ive heard that guys never really view girls as just friends-that eventually they always want to fool around. Is that true?-Valerie, 14 Answer: With most guys, thats true. But with mature guys, its not always the case. It might be hard to find that type of guy, though-hes maybe only one out of every hundred guys you meet. (This is written by R&B star Usher Raymond who is an actor in The Texas Rangers.)
As you can see, the language and vocabulary are totally teen directed. The aim of the magazine is to cover topics that teen girls are most interested in and it succeeds. Most of the articles and advice columns are quite harmless, if sometimes distasteful to the adult reader. But Im sure they all appeal to the target audience, todays teen girls.
Im happy to report that there were no incidents of promoting premarital sex. Since the mother magazine basically makes having sex the main theme of that magazine, I found it ironic that most of the advice being given within the few magazines I read to answer questions by readers and to have people writing features that always take an abstinence stance on teen sex. Perhaps, however the most ironic part of it all is that while saying its best not to have sex as a teen, almost every advertisement in the magazine shows sexually stimulating ads. The clothes they are wearing are typical club clothes worn by women in their twenties and certainly not clothing, hair or make-up that teens should be emulating. So the overall messages contained in the magazine are confusing at best.
I found no evidence of encouraging our girls to strive for excellence academically nor was there any evidence of teaching our girls to be proud of their uniqueness and their individual differences. The magazines were full of articles and advertisements to the external not internal young woman. It subtly (and not so subtly) says, Its what you look like that counts, its how many boyfriends you have and can get, that defines your personal worth. What a sad addition this magazine makes to the media influences on our young women.
My overall feeling is that the magazine is appropriate for the target age group (but probably enjoyed by the younger teens more than older teens) but that it is strictly a fluff kind of entertainment that reinforces a fluff kind of image for our girls.