Thursday, October 13, 2005

Cosmo Cwery

Here's a project I think some bored social scientist should undertake: go through the back issues of Cosmopolitan Magazine, catalogue the headlines on every cover, and figure out whether they've ever used the same headline twice.

In some ways, the headlines on the cover of Cosmo, which even the strongest of us are exposed to in every drugstore checkout line, are a tribute to the amazing variety of the English language. Because these headlines have been saying exactly the same thing every month for I don't even want to know how long -- Gawker notes that they used to deal with somewhat more risqué topics, so let's say since the mid-'80s -- and yet they always seem to come up with a slightly new way of wording exactly the same thing.

So this month, the headlines include: "Our new sex position," "How to turn him on without touching," "20 sexifiers," and "Get your guy to give you the attention you crave." Now, I have been standing in drugstore checkout lines for many years, and I know for an absolute fact that every cover of Cosmo promises new sex positions, ways to turn him on (sometimes with touching, sometimes without), and ways to get your guy to give you the attention you crave/want/need/desire/don't get from your mother. And yet I cannot say, definitely, that I have ever seen those things put in precisely those words before. They must have people working 16 hour days trying to come up with new ways of saying "New sex position."

Or maybe not. Maybe they cheat. Maybe they have a secret vault where Helen Gurley Brown kept all her headlines, and every so often they go back to the vault and pull out headlines they've used before, hoping no one will remember. For all I know they're re-using 1985 headlines in 2005, and we're none the wiser because let's face it, who wants to remember anything about 1985? And twenty years from now, they will reach back to 2005 (a time no one will want to remember either), pull up "How to turn him on without touching," and pass it off as new, putting it on the cover next to a movie star trying to be a model.

For shame, Cosmo. For shame.

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