Cosmopolitan’s History

March 1894 issue

March 1894 issue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Five examples of early magazine covers during the 1890's to early 1900's

Five examples of early magazine covers during the 1890’s to early 1900’s

Cosmopolitan magazine was founded in 1886 by Schlicht and Field, who formed the magazine to centralize and promote family life. (Johnson 4).  Their articles included discussions on home decorating, fashion styles, and child care. Unfortunately, after two years, Schlicht and Field went into bankruptcy and were forced to sell the magazine to John Brisben Walker in 1889 who turned the magazine into a voice for progressive and pro-business views. (Green 114).  After sixteen years, William Randolph Hearst bought the magazine for $400,000. Hearst used the magazine, in the beginning, to address the major issues in politics, government, and child labor laws. By 1912, the magazine began to pull its focus towards the fiction of the generation. It included short stories, essays, and poems, making it one of the leading literary magazines in the United States. (Green 114). During the 60′s, sales started to go down as the sexual revolution started to begin. One woman decided to take advantage of this movement and show the world a side of sex that they had never seen before.

Helen Gurley Brown bought Cosmopolitan magazine from Hearst when it seemed like it was the end. She grabbed people’s attention by writing what she knew best.  Before taking over the magazine, Brown was the author of the book Sex and the Single Girl. The theme behind the book was, “if you’re not a sex object, that’s when you have to worry”, which then became the new theme of Cosmopolitan magazine (Johnson 4).  After several decades of hard work and determination, Cosmopolitan’s circulation has increased by 500,000 and is now published in 58 countries, 36 languages, and is sold in more than 100 countries. (Clarke 562). This growth has made Cosmopolitan the most popular women’s magazine sold in the world. (Krassas 753).

This shows how society’s view of womanhood has changed throughout the years. When Cosmopolitan first started, women were taught to think about household chores and raising children, and now they are told that our sexuality is what will make us happiest because it’s what makes us truly empowered women. But the question is, are sources such as Cosmopolitan responsible for this change or are they just following the trend?

Boxing Helena and Corseting Eunice Sexual Rhetoric in Cosmopolitan and Playboy MagazinesFraming Sex, Romance, and Relationships in Cosmopolitan and MaximThe Paradoxical Portrayal of the Risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections and Sexuality in US magazines Glamour and Cosmopolitan

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