Magazine Review: Cosmopolitan South Africa August 2012

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After reading this New York Times article on the international editions of Cosmo, I decided I should pick up a copy of the South African edition. [I was also grumpy for reasons I can't even remember now and decided I deserved a treat.]

The most striking thing about South African Cosmo is that when you open it up (magazines pretty much always come in bags here) it starts RAINING SAMPLES! In addition to the obvious-from-the-exterior travel size aerosol deodorant, there was a little packet of that Clearasil face soap that they sell in automatic dispensers, and a single serving of (decent!) instant coffee. And a coupon for a free hot chocolate at Vida e caffe! YAY SWAG! Why isn’t this more of a thing in US magazines? Everyone likes swag!

But when it comes to printed content, this issue of Cosmo is a touch less exotic. It’s pretty much all the same fashion spreads and faux-frank sex talk, this time with a touch of British English (and I don’t know if it is a testament to me getting used to the dialect or this magazine having less original content or less-edited content than the issue of Women’s Health South Africa I picked up, but there were way fewer “well what the hell does that mean?” word choices in here).

There were a few stand-out differences in content:

  • A beauty feature on different types of weaves.
  • An “ask a dude” type column divided into separate takes, one from a “bro” (white guy) and one from a “brother” (black guy). [The brother is much better at actually addressing the issue, which is why rich men cheat. The white dude is a classic Nice GuyTM who just whines about some girl he liked who picked a rich guy instead, like, shuuuuut up Nice GuyTM]
  • One of the “5 Jobs for the Future” outlined in the Your Career section is “Water Specialist.”
  • The two main fashion spreads both use only one model. The first features a straight-size dark-skinned black woman. The second features a plus-size white woman, without comment.  So I disagree with the argument advanced in the Times piece that “for all of the magazines’ differences, Cosmo is still pushing ‘the same standards of beauty’ around the world.”
  • Oh, there is also a “50 page bonus” called “Hitched!” which I thought was going to be about being married but is actually about wedding planning.  I found myself too post-wedding adverse to really scouring through it for a thorough comparison to my old Brides by-the-numbers pieces, but I will note that within those 50 pages of bonus material, there are only 4 pages of advertisements.

One Comment

  1. This is off topic, but were you by chance alluded to in Meg’s Etsy blog post on the newly wed years??…
    “They said they felt more like a team: from feeling more comfortable merging finances to suddenly being willing to move to Africa for their partner’s work.”

    PS: I have been a mostly silent follower of your blog since your wedding planning days. Love the podcasts and insights into South African culture!

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