A Feminist Critique of Cosmopolitan Magazine

Student Author(s)

Hannah Pikaart

Faculty Mentor(s)

Professor Timothy Detwiler, Communication

Document Type


Event Date



I hypothesize that Cosmopolitan magazine empowers its readers through relevant content pertaining to their lives. Starting off with rhetorical theory, I will assign meaning to this symbol using a feminist lens. So, an immediate impression of this cover is that females are inherently sexual. There are always at least three references to sex on one cover alone. From this you could infer that women are more preoccupied with men then let’s say politics, which is not mentioned on the cover, but readers often find lengthy editorials inside. Additionally, the cover is predominantly pink, with a light shade used in the background, while a more intense hue highlights certain cover lines. This color is a prototypically feminine color, which is assigned to women as their color after birth. Then, lastly, the cover model, a female celebrity, strikes a pose, wearing something either skin tight or revealing. Based on description of the cover alone, I could hastily conclude that Cosmopolitan determines that their readers care mostly about sex, sexuality and men, rather than politics, advocacy, or money management. Therefore, was my hypothesis correct in stating Cosmopolitan wants to empower their reader, but primarily through their sexual lives, or does this concern with sexuality yield to the power of men, making women sexual objects?

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