If Cosmo Wrote About Men The Same Way They Write About Women
We had five men re-create Cosmopolitan covers to see what it felt like when we talked about men the way we talk about women in media.
Cosmo seems to follow a specific formula when it talks about women. So how would men feel when the same formula was applied when they posed for the covers?
Sam's thoughts on Hilary's cover: Cosmo covers are LEGENDARY for being over-the-top ridiculous. Those headlines, those poses! It’s almost like they’re in on the joke. And this cover is no different. Hilary looks like we've caught her ripping the world's sexiest fart. Five-minute flat abs? I can't even compose a text to my crush in five minutes, let alone get a six-pack. I think on the surface, it's easy to laugh at what Cosmo is selling, because they're the most ridiculous. But I would imagine it's hard not to at least START buying into this perfection that is sold to you, because you're constantly bombarded by it wherever you go.
Sam thoughts on his version of the cover: I kind of love how I look? I'd like to thank my parents for my good genes, my roommate for lending me his jorts, and Hilary Duff for providing me with inspiration. But while I might look good...all the messages around me seem like mindless chatter. It's both a small fix (take the text away, and everything is WAY better) and also a huge one (because you're incessantly bombarded with tips on how to squeeze into your jeans and not choke while giving a BJ). Like almost everything in 2015, it's easy to pat ourselves on the back for how far we've come, but there still is a lot of work to be done.
Norberto's thoughts on Cameron's cover: I honestly do not mind these headlines — then again, I am a man who has never been constantly pressured by the media to look hot and sexy. However, if these headlines were geared toward men, I WOULD be interested to know what 4 things all confident men do in bed, because I'm not a confident person...especially in bed. I WOULD be interested in the 382 shoes that scream "BUY ME!" because my shoe collection is bland AF. And it would actually be refreshing to see "LOVE YOUR BODY" as a headline in a men's magazine because low self-esteem in men is not something that's really talked about.
Norberto's thoughts on his version of the cover: Jesus, I look high AF. Is that really how I look? That's awful. If I were waiting in line at the supermarket and saw the front cover of this magazine, I wouldn't buy it. There's nothing appealing or sexy about how I look. I'm a big dude in a white shirt and briefs drinking a smoothie who looks like he just smoked some indica. Nothing too interesting about that. But Cameron totally nails it.
Javi's thoughts on Kylie's cover: Cosmo covers are notorious for their headlines and endless tips. At this point they are more of a joke than anything else. How many beauty ~secrets~ and diets are there really? I mean, "LOOK SEXY NOW!" and "Make them obsessed with you." What is the magazine really suppose to accomplish? Except maybe to kill some time while you're waiting for a flight.
Javi's thoughts on his version of the cover: Honestly I'm very pleased with the way I came out. However, the headlines look ridiculous when paired with a man. Though, they look pretty silly when paired with a woman. I get that they are just trying to sell magazines, but c'mon now — there has to be a better way than this.
Alex's thoughts on Demi's cover: In general, I think that men-targeted and women-targeted magazines are noticeably different in their treatment of cover models. But still, I was super excited to find a way to mimic a ridiculously flashy Demi Lovato outfit. The pose looked about 100 times more natural then it felt. I went into it thinking this would be pretty straightforward to mimic, but it took me forever to get it right and it was actually painful to hold for more than a minute at a time.
Alex's thoughts on his version of the cover: I look ridiculous. Intensely ridiculous, even. Seeing my goofy face and sub-tight bod next to "get fit tips for a tight bod" is a bit jarring. The way in which publications market for women regarding their cover models is clearly a bit absurd. There is no reason for Demi or myself to make such an awkward pose, and I think it would be very unlikely that a male would be featured making a useless pose like this on the cover of any magazine.
Pablo's thoughts on Zooey's cover: I feel like the stories lack originality on both ends of the spectrum. Women are sold mixed messages about loving your current body, while also trying to change it with "fast abs and ass workouts," while men are presented with hetero sex-talk and "how to get swole." Headlines like "Sex So Hot You'll Need to Crank the A.C." sound recycled at this point and provide no real substance to both their reader or the hot sex they may actually be trying to have.
Pablo's thoughts on his version of the cover: As soon as I saw my cover, I just laughed. For one, my left eyebrow has a mind of its own, and two, I've never seen my name and photo attached to the words "quirky, nerdy, and sexy as hell" in my life. Magazines like GQ tend to headline a man's career achievements, so this role reversal really makes that difference apparent.
Sam: I think when it comes to magazines — and a lot of media, if we want to speak in generalizations — it's long been a trend to sell men aspirations of being bigger, whereas women are sold "smaller." Men are taught to want more muscles, more sex, more of everything. And it's the opposite for women, especially in the sense that they are defined not by their own worth, but their worth to others...especially men! I mean, just look at Hilary. She's literally bending over to fit into the magazine cover. And I think the headlines, to some degree, fold into that notion. In the world of these magazines, it really seems like it's only OK to improve yourself if someone else reaps the benefits.
Javi: I think men's magazines are starting to close the gap on women's magazines in the worst kind of way. How many diets and sex tips are actually out there? The headlines text is ludicrous and obtuse. Men's magazines are doing the same with "six-pack abs," and career goals. I think these headlines are way off and beating a dead horse. Can they just talk about some real shit for once?
Alex: I felt like my cover, specifically, would actually be fairly relevant to either gender. A GQ headline would likely not use the word "bae" and probably wouldn't talk about winning a dude's "bling," but fitness and dating tips could easily be a part of a men's magazine as well.
Norberto: All I know about Cosmo is that it's ridiculous and it knows it's ridiculous. I don't think anyone is supposed to take these magazines seriously. It's visual chocolate. It's something fun to read while you're on the shitter. As I look at this cover, all I'm thinking is, "Gee, what are 4 things all confident women do?" It is what it is.
Pablo: The cover describes Zooey as "quirky, nerdy, and sexy as hell," which sounds like something straight out of a bad Tinder profile. Nevertheless, I tried my best to re-create a sexy deer-in-headlights kind of look. Turns out I'm more "deer" than I am "sexy." I'm usually used to looking both surprised and a little turned on, but getting told to look that way was a little too unnatural for me. I just hope I gave her pose some quirky, bear realness.