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Cosmo Magazine Spreads Their Values around the Globe

A 2012 article in The New York Times reported on a conference of female "missionaries" (the article's word) who are intent on changing the world. The women who gathered in Madrid came from numerous countries, including the United States, Australia, France, Britain, Armenia, Mongolia, and Vietnam, to participate in the biennial Cosmic Conference to promote the values of the best-selling magazine in America—Cosmopolitan. According to the article, these "Cosmo missionaries" were intent on spreading the good news of Cosmo, which is summed up in their motto—"Fun, fearless, female!"

Under the direction of the U.S. editor Kate White, Cosmo has developed a cheerful, "girlfriendy" tone. But it also strives to offer serious advice to women around the world on matters of beauty, relationships, career success, and sex—especially sex. The New York Times article reported:

Its covers rarely fail to feature at least one bold, all-caps rendering of the word "sex." A sampling of 2012 headlines includes "50 Sex Tips," … "99 Sex Questions" and "His Best Sex Ever." The repetition can be a little numbing, but it may help explain how Cosmo … has morphed into such a global juggernaut. Through those 64 [international] editions, the magazine now spreads wild sex stories to 100 million teens and young women [about the size of the world's 12th-largest country] in more than 100 nations—including quite a few where any discussion of sex is taboo. And plenty of others where reading a glossy magazine still carries [status] …. As the brand proudly points out, in 2011 alone, these readers spent $1.4 billion on shoes, $400 million on cars, $2.5 billion on beauty products and $1.5 billion on fragrance and bought 24 million pairs of jeans.

Kate White admits that some people might object to Cosmo's obsession with sexual topics, but she's unabashedly proud of how that focus sets the magazine apart from her competitors. White said, "Every Cosmo reader expects to have herself and her pleasures taken care of, equally. We reinforce the idea all the time that, yes, we want you to be a fabulous lover, we want to give you those skills, but you better get it back, baby, because that's what you deserve."

Possible Preaching Angles: (1) Worldliness, Renewal of the Mind—This story shows one way that the world around us tries to squeeze us into its mold. It also shows the need for Christian formation and the renewal of our minds. (2) Sex, Promiscuity—The world around us reiterates that you find freedom by taking care of your sexual needs.

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