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An Open Letter To Cosmo

January 11, 2010

Dear Cosmo,

I understand the print journalism industry is slowly dieing, and you’re unable to get any relevant celebrities to do your covers so you’ve resorted to fame whores like Megan Fox and Kim Kardashian.  I understand you cater to a crowd of barely-18 year old girls who desperately want to enjoy giving blow jobs to their new fraternity boyfriends. And I also understand that your staff probably consists of 12 middle-aged women who still think wearing leopard print is sexy. However despite all this, I have come to the decision that I have to stop reading you.

Dearest Cosmo, our relationship began when I was a mere 16 years old. Terrible haircuts and no knowledge of make-up carried me to you, and within months I had some basic knowledge of how to not look gross. But as the years went on, I discovered your terrible secret: every single issue of Cosmo is stupid.

At first I appreciated the wacky oh-so-embarrassing stories from readers and the real-life tips to be safe at bars and clubs. But slowly, the good parts began shrinking. Instead of a full length feature on why tanning in a booth is like swallowing gasoline, I got 12 extra pages on how to please my man. Instead of inspirational stories from strong women, I got a picture of a skinny model using underwear to tie her hair back as she goes down for a blow job. Really Cosmo? Really?

The last issue I bought, November 2009, was 236 pages. About 50 of those were ads for perfume. Another 50 were dedicated to copy-and-paste ‘articles’ ranging from clothes that are too expensive for any middle-class girl to buy, to lists of the hottest cops on TV shows. The rest of the pages were mostly pictures of men without shirts and models that look 14 years old.

Where are my self-improvement, self-empowerment pages? Where are the real life fashion and style tips? Where are the sex tips that don’t consist of ‘rub his penis till he leaves you alone and lets you sleep’? Oh Cosmo…

It’s not me, it’s you. It’s you and your fake journalism. You and your 5 entire pages of boots that cost more than my paycheck. You and your habit of recycling articles by rearranging the words in the title. Take a hike, Cosmo.


Dr. Sangfroid

12 Comments leave one →
  1. clatterbach permalink
    January 11, 2010 10:54 am

    Let me give a male point of view here. Ten years ago I was going out with a woman who studied law at Oxford University. She had, of course, done well at high school, excelled in her A-Levels (at 18), succeeded in making an impression at her Oxford interview. On her wall at her college she had a collage of soap stars and pop stars, none of them any more known for their intellect or any more quoteable on world affairs than, say, Jessica Simpson. She watched only the lowest common denominator television, read Heat magazine (a Brit celebrity mag that commonly outs celebs for their celulite, and does little else as far as I can see) and, of course, Cosmo.

    The very ‘Make you Boyfriend happy’ columns you have mentioned led my ex to ask me what my fantasies were. Men, she told me, like women to dress up as school girls (a smutty, unimaginitive, seldom attractive British fad of a few years); and then men, too, just love it when women are humiliated during sexual acts; she could make coffee and ice water and alternately drink them whilst giving me a blow job: she told me this, and much more, with breezy enthusiasm. As far as the whole fantasy thing went, it was an interesting parallel to the times I used to go to confession as a kid and, with little to say (I was much too antisocial a kid to cause much harm), I would make stuff up. Here too I acquiesced. She went on about it so long, and so insistently that I went along with it just to shut her up so we could change the subject. Yeah, the schoolgirl thing is great. It could look good as it happened, as pretty much anything can when done well – something suits everybody – but as for it being some deep pyschic g-spot, no, no, I can’t say as it was. For that, I might have asked for a conversation that went a little deeper and made me feel like I connected on some deep level with a woman so as I wanted to be one with her completely. Cliched and Oprah as that may sound, it was how I felt then, and how I feel now.

    Wanting to look good is not a bad thing. Wanting to please your partner is not a bad thing. Most continental european men and women seem to manage to do this better than we do in the Anglophone West. For them, looking good is something you do for yourself, and it is something you do out of pride, honour, for the society you live in. It is one part of expressing yourself. Pleasing your partner too is not, for them, some self-denying hair shirt paranoiac act, but one of giving, part of something approaching a reciprocal altruism that works in the societies they live in (societies that are often rather less the conglomeration of self-serving atomised individualistic self-maximising economic units than our own): humiliation would never, could never come into it. It is bizarre that in the anglophone West either looking good or pleasing others should become this travesty, that by a skewing of priorities it should serve to enslave us in paranoiac duties and subservience.

    My ex is my ex because she bored me stupid. And I can honestly say that since that time so seldom have I encountered anything approaching my fantasy of connecting with somebody on a deeper level – so often is it short-circuited by some awful combination of Cosmo/Heat-inspired neurosis and Britain’s Got Talent obviousness – that I’ve pretty much given up on it. Men here are infantilised by idiot magazines such as Zoo and Nuts, women by Cosmo and Heat. Everybody is neurotic. Everybody lacks imagination. Everybody is oh so bloody BORING most of the time. And I for one can’t wait to leave this country again sometime soon and try to find something different elsewhere, even if last time I left, I arrived in Prague just as Big Brother and Superstar arrived, packaged up and sold on by British TV Management.

    In any case, good luck with what ought to be a wider campaign! We all need to fight this infantilising culture. Not only is it anti-feminist, increasingly it is misanthropic, and men and women both are demeaned by it.

    • Tegan McRae permalink*
      January 11, 2010 6:58 pm

      Awesome. Just awesome.

  2. clatterbach permalink
    January 11, 2010 8:30 pm

    Much obliged.

  3. clatterbach permalink
    January 11, 2010 9:38 pm

    Oh, and having read some of your other posts and comments (nice work by the way), I’ve got to say this to some of your less intelligent readers:

    A> I am British (English if that confuses you)

    B> In the above I make some critical comments about Britain (England if you like)

    C> I do not hate my country, whatever you want to call it, however frustrated some things may make me at times

    D> But there again I certainly do not get worked up when others make critical comments about my country, if those comments are either funny or accurate

    E> I don’t think I know a single countryman of mine who is sent into an apopleptic sense of humour failure on hearing a criticism aimed at the country, let alone one of its representatives, whether the criticism comes from a fellow Brit or anybody else. You don’t hear many Brits launching into speeches about the Empire when somebody slags off Simon Cowell for being a primetime tasteless slimeball or Hugh Grant for being a gibbering wuss (both are true incidentally and we’re glad to be rid of them for the time they’re out of the country).

    F> Because though the British sense of humour is often snearing (see that, I’m doing it again) and overly sarcastic (now that’s just showing off), it does tend to be a bloody great bulwark against losing a sense of perspective. That is, like the country itself and all of us who live in it, it has good points and bad points. Acknowledging one or more of the bad points doesn’t make us forget the good ones (those of us who have the requisite space in our brains for more than one idea at any one time at any rate). Often it serves to do the opposite.

    G> There is ample space below for you all to tell me the exact kind of cretin that makes me… That should keep you off the streets at least.

  4. Josselyn berry permalink
    January 12, 2010 12:54 am

    Amen to that

  5. January 13, 2010 3:40 am

    So you disappear from mid-November to mid-January only to re-emerge with a rant about Cosmo? It’s well deserved, but what happened to you during those two months? Were you in a tragic car wreck that put you into a coma? Were you catching up on your Cosmo reading and building up a head of steam?

    • Tegan McRae permalink*
      January 13, 2010 4:28 am

      Just fell into a funk, actually. Was on winter break from school (motivation killer number 1), then I was sooo busy with the holidays, and then I got laid off so I sat around moping. Getting back into the writing habit now though… :)

  6. January 18, 2010 12:12 am

    I actually started editing a magazine here in Australia called C.O.P. that was started for EXACTLY the reasons you outlined above. The reception has been more “thank God” than anything, so you are definitely not the only one that feels this way. Just found your blog via 20SB and it’s great.

    • Tegan McRae permalink*
      January 18, 2010 12:55 am

      Seriously? A girl on my newspaper staff at school writes for you guys (Rio). That’s so cool. I’ve checked out the C.O.P. before and enjoyed it :) Keep up the awesome work!

  7. January 18, 2010 1:04 am

    Thanks! My god that’s bizarre, I didn’t even find you offa her blog links or anything. That’s a whole new definition of small worldism. I’ll keep you in mind for upcoming stuff if you want to stay in touch. Your style is very clean and you build a good argument. “I discovered your terrible secret: every single issue of Cosmo is stupid.”
    ahaha… I had a good laugh at that one.


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