"Mrs. Robinson, if you don't mind my saying so, this conversation is getting a little strange." - Ben, The Graduate
I recently picked up a copy (and actually purchased! ...as opposed to leafing through a friend's copy) of Cosmopolitan magazine. For those of you who may not know me very well, I am not what one may refer to as a "Cosmo Girl." I do not go to cocktail lounges or nightclubs with my girlfriends. I do not possess an obscenely expensive wardrobe. I do not keep up with the latest celebrity gossip, style trends, and pop culture knowledge. However, I saw the "adorkable" Zooey Deschanel on the cover and I couldn't resist. Perhaps there would be some insight to how she got so awesome lingering between the pages.
First of all, I remembered the main reason why I so detest lady magazines: ADVERTISEMENT BOMBARDMENT!!!! There were 10 pages of cosmetic, fashion, accessory, and perfume ads before I even got to the Table of Contents (which was followed by another 15 pages of similar ads before getting to the actual articles....which were further peppered with, you guessed it, MORE ads!). Grrrr!!!
After skimming through Guy Confessions and the Meaning Of Subtle Body Language and Beauty Q&A and 12 Love Moves That Turn Him To Mush and other fluff, I came across an article called The 10 Commandments of Helen Gurley Brown. I don't know much about the late, former Cosmo editor, but she sounded like a ball-busting, alpha-female, stand-up babe! Among her Commandments, she promoted confidence, feminism (on any and all levels), inner and outer strength, style, positive self image, and owning relationships and careers. For all the misogynistic and unrealistic ads and puff-piece articles I flipped through, this particular article gave me pause and made me view the pages of this magazine in a different light:
Maybe I've been looking at things wrong. I normally view cosmetics as mere face paint to cover up our true selves (not that I don't use it when I want to look nice). Appearance-consumed women slap on too much of all these products to make themselves look presentable in society. I never viewed making oneself appear physically attractive as much more than an unfortunate chore yoked on females in order to attract the opposite sex. But what if it isn't just society-pleasing ritual? Maybe makeup is like a societal war paint. Women apply it to strike a certain tone in order to dominate the field of battle (i.e. the day). Though still heavily driven by appearance, I think that's a much more aggressive (and frankly, healthier) view than "I have to wear makeup so guys will want me." It instills confidence, power, and pride to say, "Y'know, whatever I do today, I'm gonna look fuckin' good when I do it!"
So thanks to Ms. Deschanel for leading me to Ms. Brown's inspiring mantras! Despite all the "100 Ways To Please Your Man" articles (seriously, if you want to know what pleases your man, make him a sandwich and don't talk about feelings during the game!) , I feel like I've learned something today. Who knows? I may pick up (and purchase) another issue if it means more impromptu feminine enlightenment. Hell, maybe I'll even start paying attention to the cosmetics and fashion sections!