Why Cosmo is scarier than Muammar Qaddafi

By Jessica Levco

Confession: I’m pretty lousy at writing headlines.

So, in an effort to improve my skills, our CEO suggested I get a subscription to Cosmopolitan and write a story about what I learned.

At first, I didn’t know if I could handle it.

Me?! Read Cosmo? My mother would be outraged!

I grew up sheltered with city magazines, news magazines, gardening magazines, and my Dad’s Sports Illustrated.

Cosmo in Levco household was banned—along with MTV, Dawson’s Creek, and getting your ears pierced before you turned 18.

But now that I’m adult, I can do whatever I want. That means I can eat Cool Ranch Doritos for breakfast, tattoo my body with dragons and watch marathon re-runs of “16 and Pregnant.” I’ve earned it.

A subscription to Cosmo would be my first step toward adulthood. When the first issue came to my mailbox, I jumped up and down with excitement. Now, I could finally un-lock all the world’s mysteries about men and makeup in just one sitting.

Well, 140 pages later—I was scared. Shitless.

Cosmo told me that everything I was doing with my life was wrong. I wasn’t wearing the right clothes. I wasn’t bringing out my “inner sexy beast.” I wasn’t even washing my face correctly.

The magazine does a brilliant job of preying on the inner-fears of a millennial woman’s 13-year-old self: Do I look fat in these jeans? Why is my hair always so frizzy? I can’t believe she wore that! Why can’t I look like her? Why doesn’t he like me? How can I get him to like me more? I should buy new lip gloss!

Don’t even get me started on the tips and tricks.

So, ladies, why do we keep reading this trash? Aren’t we old enough to know better? And if you do know better, please tell us—what do you enjoy reading?

And no, just for the record, I really don’t think Cosmo is more threatening than M. Qaddafi. I just thought it would be a good headline.

At least Cosmo taught me something.


3 thoughts on “Why Cosmo is scarier than Muammar Qaddafi

  1. i really love hearing about people subscribing to Cosmo for the first time. (my first time i was fifteen). i remember receiving my first copy in the mail, which was january of 1999 (laetitia casta cover). of course, Cosmo’s not as good as it used to be—historically, i think one has to admit its importance—yet it still stands for (to a certain degree) informing young people about the world they live in. you’re not supposed to love Cosmo your whole life, you’re supposed to find it at hopefully the right time where it can help you make some steps forward, & then you’re supposed to outgrow it. i suppose, as the magazine dumbs itself down, the relevant age becomes lower? right now, i surmise it would be useful for teens & high school girls looking to add both information & context into their lives. for someone a little older, it will probably be pretty transparently bad. i’d definitely like to hear more about what the duration of the subscription was like, especially how your expectations & excitement levels changed as you received each subsequent issue in the mail? also, with which month did your subscription start? are you still getting them? follow up with us!

  2. Thanks for leaving a comment, Cameron! I started my year subscription this March. I still look through it, but I don’t spend a whole lot of time with it. Yet I have to admit, the headlines are still pulling me in!

    Overall, I’m much happier reading The New Yorker. I think that’s because I feel like I actually learned something new. I wish women’s magazines could have the same tone.

    What other magazines do you like to read? –Jessica

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