Dear “Beauty” People at Cosmo,
Your recent video featuring a tutorial on back contouring was majorly fu*ked up. Congratulations, you’ve just shamed an entire generation of vulnerable, young women and girls into worrying about the shape of their back bones. Well done.
“Back contouring is officially a thing and THIS is how to do it,” says the description of the video. Reminder: it’s only a “thing,” because YOU decided it was. You made an intentional decision to contribute to the low-self esteem of young women with body-image issues and eating disorders.
The company overview description on your Facebook page says: “Cosmopolitan is the best-selling young women’s magazine in the U.S., a bible for fun, fearless females that reaches more than 17 million readers a month.”
Uh, last time I checked, fearless females only contoured their backs with makeup when playing super sheroes in the movies.
And also, haven’t you heard about this thing called, Body Positivity? See, it started out as a grass roots movement for people with body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and poor body-image to claim their worth, beauty, and space in a world that tells them they should strive for unattainable physical perfection. But in the past few years, it’s been co-opted by large corporations who’ve mainstreamed the idea so they can make money off the hard work of those that pioneered the movement so many years ago. But I digress.
Let’s get to the matter at hand. You did bad. And you can fix it. Here’s how:
- Apologize profusely.
- Destroy the tutorial video and remove from all websites. Promise never to pull that shit again.
- Hire a diverse staff IMMEDIATELY, that would know better than to put this tom-foolery out into the Universe.
- Feature more girls and women of color, women of size, women who are differently-abled, and transgender folks on the cover and inside pages of your magazine.
- Stop photo-shopping your images. That’s so 2015.
- Use your platform to bring attention to underrepresented bodies and voices.
- You’ve been around since 1886, for heaven’s sake! Ok, you didn’t become a women’s magazine until the 1960’s, but still, this is 2016. Get it together.
Look, I know this letter seems harsh, but sometimes you just gotta let folks know what’s up. And what’s up, is that you owe us more than that. Every woman I know has read Cosmo at some point her life. It has sparked many a conversation about our periods, and led to good, safe sex for many of us all over the world. You taught us about anorexia and bulimia. And we thank you. Which is why we’re confused about that awful video!
I challenge you to do better, now that you know better. I encourage you take this opportunity to grow. And finally, I ask that that you surprise the shit out of us by actually implementing some the above changes.
Body Positive Activist, Writer, and Speaker