Cover Themes


Example 1: Lea Michele on the March 2011 cover

If you’ve ever seen a Cosmopolitan cover, you’ve probably noticed that there are certain themes and characteristics that each issue makes sure to follow. One researcher found this pattern so interesting that he performed a study to see what it was that drew people to these magazines. The study was done by Sammye Johnson, the Carlos Augustus de Lozano Chair in Journalism in the Department of Communication at Trinity University. He discovered that there are five major traits that magazines use to increase sales. Coincidentally, Cosmopolitan matches up perfectly with all five traits which are: 1. Magazines with women on the cover sell better than those with men. 2. Magazines with people sell better than magazines with objects. 3.  Celebrities grab more attention than politicians. 4. Sex sells. 5. Readers are drawn to positive articles compared to negative articles. (Johnson 3). Cosmopolitan ties into this study because it is the magazine that shows that these traits work and sell magazines because Cosmopolitan is the top-selling woman’s magazine in the world.

If you scroll through the cover gallery at, you’ll see that every cover features a woman; there isn’t a single man, which supports Johnson’s first point that women sell better than men. The second trait is seen in the solitary state of the women. The women are alone because they don’t want anything, such as objects, to distract the viewer from what the magazine is all about. The third trait is in the social status of the people chosen to be on the covers. Most of the women featured are considered celebrities in some sort of fashion. Examples are provided in the covers featured in this page. Lea Michele is a singer/actress, Jessica Alba is a well-known actress, and Britney Spears is a famous singer/performer. Celebrities are used because they can draw attention and people like reading about their personal lives. The fourth point is seen in the similar body type’s of the women, the clothes they are put in, and the titles that surround their pictures. Every woman exudes a slim hour glass frame that is shown off using clothes that accentuate their figure. The clothes are either short, tight, or low cut, or all three. These body types and clothes follow the fourth point because they depict what our society sees as sexy. The cover titles cannot be forgotten for this point either. The words sex and sexy can be found on each and every issue is large print so as to let the reader clearly know what will be discussed in the magazine. The final point says positive is better and positive is what Cosmopolitan does. The articles and topics placed on the cover all follow and upbeat and happy theme that make people want to read the magazine.


Example 2: Jessica Alba on the February 2009 cover


Example 3: Britney Spears on the December 2008 cover

Framing Sex, Romance, and Relationships in Cosmopolitan and Maxim

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