Jan 25, 2018 in Informative

Gender Stereotypes in Cosmopolitan

Cosmopolitan is a fun magazine for women, which has been available in the US since 1886. While its main purpose is to entertain the reader and provide a lot of useful recommendations, it is important to understand its implicit messages. The target audience is young women, and most of Cosmopolitan articles are concentrated on issues of looking sexually appealing and attracting men. Therefore, both sexes are depicted in very specific ways. Men are shown as strong, reserved and unemotional, while most of women are depicted as beautiful, slim, and sexually skilled.  As the magazine is targeted at young women, it is important to understand how the way women and men are depicted influences the readers.

It is obvious that media can influence the ways women see their bodies

Most photos in Cosmopolitan present beautiful and thin models. While modern women are being daily inundated with such images, their desire to become skinny is cultivated. The message is if you are thin, you are attractive to men and therefore successful.

“Cut Down a Bit of Your Belly by Never Eating These Five Foods”, “Burn 150 Calories at Your Desk”, “How to Score a Flat Belly”, etc. are typical titles in Health and Fitness section. While these days one can come across photos of “plus-size” models in Cosmo, these models are much thinner than most women in America these days. The way women’s bodies are represented in Cosmopolitan implies that if a woman wants to be attractive to men, she must be thin.

The magazine also provides a lot of recipes. Here, the importance of eating low-calorie food is accentuated. The examples of article titles are “Low-Cal Recipes That Actually Taste Good”, “Found: Low Calorie Meals That Don't Suck”, “A Low-Calorie Feast with Friends”, etc. The stereotype that only a thin woman can be happy in personal life can make women feel miserable if they find themselves unable to correspond to the modern ideals of beauty. 

Cosmopolitan also influences the way its readers perceive men

Men are typically represented as strong, demanding, and unemotional. A traditional Cosmopolitan article titled "Guy without His Shirt" always presents a handsome man who is answering questions about his relationship status and what qualities he appreciates in girls. From this kind of articles, women can learn how to meet men’s expectations. Another regular article is "How I Got Him To...", where women are given recommendations on how to manipulate their men. Such ways as explaining one’s viewpoint clearly and negotiating are not favored, different manipulative tricks are promoted instead. By learning about these tricks and applying them in life, women strengthen men’s belief that all women are sneaky and egocentric.

Cosmopolitan is an important force in the media

While positioning itself as an entertainment magazine, in fact it defines women though the men’s perspective. Women are not encouraged to develop their inner beauty and personality. On the contrary, they are shown how to be keeping in line with modern stereotypes of beauty and sexuality. The female audience is encouraged to see the world though the desires of the opposite sex and please men in every possible way. Thus, women, who enjoy reading Cosmopolitan and similar magazines, are at risk of losing their own personality.


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