Cosmo Thinks I'M Fat: Images of Feminity in Women's Magazines

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Cosmo Thinks I’m Fat

Cosmopolitan magazine is “the lifestylist for millions of fun fearless females who want to be the best they can be in every area of their lives.” The best-selling magazine in its category, Cosmopolitan has 58 international editions, is published in 34 languages and is distributed in over 100 countries. Despite its popularity, a number of leading researchers have suggested that the material presented in these magazines can be damaging to the mental state of its readers in numerous ways. After examining the latest issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, it appears that while there are several examples of degrading advertisements and features a majority of the ads are neutral or positive in tone and help define a more modern, feminist woman. The November 2010 issue of Cosmopolitan definitely displayed a number of advertisements that displayed overtly sexualized images of women. One ad for Skyy Vodka showed a bottle of the vodka situated suggestively between the legs of a woman wearing red leather boots. An article about Kary Perry has her laying in bed with ample cleavage with a caption reading “This cleavage is Cosmo-approved.” Jean Kilbourne contends that advertising content can affect people in deep and possibly hurtful ways. “Sex in advertisting is pornographic because it dehumanizes and objectifies people, especially women.” (Kilbourne) When people are constantly bombarded with images of objectified people--whether men or women--they are conditioned to see each other in dehumanizing ways. This means that the attitudes that can lead to sexual aggression are normalized. Kilbourne maintains that “Ads don’t directly cause violence,

of course. But the violent images contribute to the state of terror. And objectification and disconnection create a climate in which there is widespread and increasing violence.” Kilbourne shows concerns about two trends in fashion and advertising that she cites as cultural reactions to the women’s movement. The...
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