Cosmopolitan is an international magazine for women. It was first published in 1886 in the United States as a family magazine, was later transformed into a literary magazine and eventually became a women's magazine in the late 1960s. Also known as Cosmo, its content as of 2011 included articles on women's issues, relationships, sex, health, careers, self-improvement, celebrities, fashion and beauty. Published by Hearst MagazinesCosmopolitan has 64 international editions, is printed in 35 languages and is distributed in more than 100 countries.[3]


 [hide*1 History


Cosmopolitan began as a family magazine, launched in 1886 by Schlicht & Field of New York as The Cosmopolitan.[4]

Paul Schlicht told his first-issue readers that his publication was a "first-class family magazine", adding, "There will be a department devoted exclusively to the concerns of women, with articles on fashions, on household decoration, on cooking, and the care and management of children, etc.There was also a department for the younger members of the family."

Cosmopolitan's circulation reached 25,000 that year, but by November 1888, Schlicht & Field were no longer in business. John Brisben Walker acquired the magazine in 1889. That same year, he dispatched Elizabeth Bisland on a race around the world against Nellie Bly to draw attention to his magazine.[5]

Under John Brisben Walker's ownership, E. D. Walker, formerly with Harper's Monthly, took over as the new editor, introducing colour illustrations, serials and book reviews. It became a leading market for fiction, featuring such authors as Annie BesantAmbrose BierceTheodore DreiserRudyard KiplingJack LondonWilla Cather, and Edith Wharton.[6] The magazine's circulation climbed to 75,000 by 1892.

In 1897, Cosmopolitan announced plans for a free correspondence school: "No charge of any kind will be made to the student. All expenses for the present will be borne by the Cosmopolitan. No conditions, except a pledge of a given number of hours of study." When 20,000 immediately signed up, Walker could not fund the school and students were then asked to contribute 20 dollars a year. Also in 1897, H. G. WellsThe War of the Worlds was serialized, as was his The First Men in the Moon (1900). Olive Schreiner contributed a lengthy article about the Boer War.

In 1905, William Randolph Hearst purchased the magazine for US$400,000 (approximately $11,000,000 in 2007 prices) and brought in journalist Charles Edward Russell, who contributed a series of investigative articles, including "The Growth of Caste in America" (March 1907), "At the Throat of the Republic" (December 1907 - March 1908) and "What Are You Going to Do About It?" (July 1910 - January 1911) and "Colorado - New Tricks in an Old Game" (December 1910).

Other contributors during this period included Alfred Henry LewisSinclair LewisA. J. CroninDavid Graham PhillipsGeorge Bernard ShawUpton Sinclair, and Ida Tarbell. A constant presence from 1910-18 was Arthur B. Reeve, with 82 stories featuring Craig Kennedy, the "scientific detective." Magazine illustrators included Francis Attwood, Dean CornwellJames Montgomery Flagg, and Harrison Fisher.

[1][2]March 1894 issue

With a circulation of 1,700,000 in the 1930s, Cosmopolitan had an advertising income of $5,000,000. Emphasizing fiction in the 1940s, it was subtitled The Four-Book Magazine since the first section had one novelette, six or eight short stories, two serials, six to eight articles and eight or nine special features, while the other three sections featured two novels and a digest of current non-fiction books. During World War II, sales peaked at 2,000,000.

Hearst formed Cosmopolitan Productions or Cosmopolitan Pictures a film company based in New York City from 1918 to 1923 then Hollywood until 1938 for the purpose of making films out of stories published in the magazine.

The magazine began to run less fiction during the 1950s. Circulation dropped to slightly over a million by 1955, a time when magazines were overshadowed during the rise of paperbacks and television. The Golden Age of magazines came to an end as mass market, general interest publications gave way to special interest magazines targeting specialized audiences.

Helen Gurley Brown arrives[edit]Edit

Cosmopolitan's circulation continued to decline for another decade until Helen Gurley Brown became chief editor in 1965 and remodeled the magazine as New Cosmopolitan. After countless denials by other publications, Brown finally landed an opportunity to put her perspective on a magazine.[7] The magazine was renamed again Cosmopolitan in 1967, and it was refocused as a magazine for women. The magazine eventually adopted a cover format consisting of a usually young female model typically in a low cut dress or bikini. The magazine focused on young women and published articles that openly talked about sexual issues.

This was not her first publication dealing with sexually liberating women. Her 1962 advice book, Sex and the Single Girl, had been a best seller. Fan mail begging for Brown's advice on many subjects concerning women's behavior, sexual encounters, health, and beauty flooded her after the book was released. Brown sent the message that a woman should have men complement her life, not take it over. Enjoying sex without shame was also a message she incorporated in both publications.[8]

In Brown's early years as editor, the magazine received heavy criticism. The magazine ran a near-nude centerfold of actor Burt Reynolds in April 1972, causing great controversy and attracting much attention.[9]

In April 1978, a single edition of Cosmopolitan Man was published as a trial, targeted to appeal to men. Its cover featured Jack Nicholson and Aurore Clément. It was published twice in 1989 as a supplement to Cosmopolitan.[10] Hearst abandoned this project after the company purchased Esquire.

Cosmopolitan today[edit]Edit

[3][4]Cosmopolitan stand at The Branderyfashion show (Barcelona, 2010)

The magazine, and in particular its cover stories, have become increasingly sexually explicit in tone, and covers have models wearing revealing clothes. Kroger, America's largest grocery chain, used to cover up Cosmopolitan at checkout stands because of complaints about sexually inappropriate headlines.[11] The UK edition of Cosmopolitan, which began in 1972, was well known for sexual explicitness, with strong sexual language, male nudity and coverage of such subjects as rape. In 1999 CosmoGIRL!, a spinoff magazine targeting a teenage female audience, was created for international readership. It shut down in December 2008.

The magazine currently features topics including sex, relationships, beauty, fashion and health. The advice and feature articles in the US edition are written to a presumed audience of white women.[12]

Cosmopolitan has 64 international editions worldwide published in 35 languages with distribution in more than 100 countries making Cosmopolitan the largest-selling young women's magazine in the world.[3] Some international editions are published in partnerships, such as licenses or joint ventures, with established publishing houses in each local market.

International editions are published in ArgentinaArmeniaAustraliaAzerbaijanBrazilBulgariaCentral AmericaChileChinaColombiaCroatiaCyprusCzech RepublicEcuadorEstonia,FinlandFranceGermanyGreeceHong KongHungaryIndiaIndonesiaItalyKazakhstanKoreaLatviaLithuaniaMalaysiaMexicoMongoliaNetherlandsPeruPhilippinesPoland,PortugalPuerto RicoRomaniaRussiaSerbiaSingaporeSloveniaSouth AfricaSpainTaiwanThailandTurkeyUnited KingdomU.S. en EspañolUkraineVenezuela, and Vietnam. Editions that had been ceased are: DenmarkGeorgiaIsraelKenyaNorway and Sweden.

Cosmopolitan has since the sixties been a women's magazine discussing such topics as sex, health, fitness and fashion. Cosmopolitan also has a section called "Ask Him Anything" where a male writer answers readers' questions about men and dating.

Awards by Cosmopolitan, and features[edit]Edit

Fun, Fearless Male and Female of the Year: For more than a decade, the February issue has featured this award. In 2011 Russell Brand received the magazine's Fun Fearless Male of the Year Award, joining Kellan Lutz and Paul Wesley (2010), John Mayer (2008), Nick Lachey (2007), Patrick Dempsey (2006), Josh Duhamel (2005), Matthew Perry (2004), and Jon Bon Jovi (2003). In 2012, Nicole Scherzinger won the award. Mila Kunis received the 2011 Fun, Fearless Female of the Year honor, a title that had been previously awarded to Anna Faris (2010), Ali Larter (2009), Katherine Heigl (2008), Eva Mendes (2007), Beyoncé (2006), Ashlee Simpson (2005), Alicia Silverstone (2004), Sandra Bullock (2003), Britney Spears (2002), Debra Messing (2001), Jennifer Love Hewitt (2000), Shania Twain (1999) and Ashley Judd (1998)

'Bachelor of the Year: Cosmopolitans November issue features the hottest bachelors from all 50 states. Pictures and profiles of all the Bachelors are posted on, where readers view and vote for their favorite, narrowing it down to six finalists. A team of Cosmopolitan editors then selects the Bachelor of the Year, who is announced at an annual party and media event in New York. The 50 bachelors generally appear on programs such as The Today Show.[13]

Past Winners Include

Practice Safe Sun: In the May 2006 issue of Cosmopolitan, the magazine launched the Practice Safe Sun campaign, an initiative aimed at fighting skin cancer by asking readers to stop all forms of tanning other than tanning from a bottle.[16] In conjunction with the campaign, Cosmo's editor-in-chief, Kate White, approached Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), known for her support of women's health issues, with concerns that women weren't fully aware of the dangers of indoor tanning and the effectiveness of the current warning labels.[17] After careful review, the Congresswoman agreed that it was necessary to recommend that the FDA take a closer look. She and Representative Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL) introduced the Tanning Accountability and Notification Act (TAN Act - H.R. 4767) on February 16, 2006.[16] President Bush signed the act in September 2007, and the new federal law requires the FDA to scrutinize the warning labels on tanning beds and issue a report by September 2008.[18]

Cosmo Blog Awards: Cosmopolitan UK launched the Cosmo Blog Awards [19] in 2010. The Awards attracted more than 15,000 entries and winning and highly commended blogs were voted for in several categories including beauty, fashion, lifestyle and celebrity. The 2011 Awards launched in August 2011 and nominations are open until 31 August 2011. All UK-based bloggers and blogs written by British blogges abroad with a British perspective can be entered.


In its January 1988 issue, Cosmopolitan ran a feature claiming that women had almost no reason to worry about contracting HIV long after the best available medical science indicated otherwise. The piece claimed that unprotected sex with an HIV-positive man did not put women at risk of infection, and went on to state that "most heterosexuals are not at risk" and that it was impossible to transmit HIV in the missionary position.[20] This article angered many knowledgeable people including AIDS and gay rights activists. In 2005 Cosmopolitan ran a promotional giveaway of free condoms in the Netherlands.

Whilst considered a magazine for adult women, Cosmopolitan has been accused of subtly targeting children.[21] These accusations stem from various factors, including the design of the magazine covers, which use extra large fonts and minimum words and the use of bright colors. Former model Nicole Weider accused the magazine of using slang "which is used by young people not adults" and using (then) underage celebrities such as Dakota Fanning and Selena Gomez as well as other celebrities popular with teens such as Ashley Greene and Demi Lovato, in an attempt to gain the attention of underage girls.[21]

Victoria Hearst, a model and granddaughter of Cosmopolitan-founder William Randolph Hearst, has lend her support to a campaign which seeks to have Cosmopolitan classified as under the guidelines of "Material Harmful to Minors" laws. Hearst states that "the magazine promotes a lifestyle that can be dangerous to women’s emotional and physical well being. It should never be sold to anyone under 18".[22] Donald Clark, the secretary of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), has also shown interest in the matter.[23]

Editors (American edition)[edit]Edit

  • Frank P. Smith (1886–1888)
  • E. D. Walker (1888)
  • John Brisben Walker (1889–1905)
  • Bailey Millard (1905–1907)
  • S. S. Chamberlain (1907–1908)
  • C. P. Narcross (1908–1913)
  • Sewell Haggard (1914)
  • Edgar Grant Sisson (1914–1917)
  • Douglas Z. Doty (1917–1918)
  • Ray Long (1918–1931)
  • Harry Payne Burton (1931–1942)
  • Frances Whiting (1942–1945)
  • Arthur Gordon (1946–1948)
  • Herbert R. Mayes (1948–1951)
  • John J. O'Connell (1951–1959)
  • Robert Atherton (1959–1965)
  • Helen Gurley Brown (1965–1997)
  • Bonnie Fuller (1997–1998)
  • Kate White (1998–2012)
  • Joanna Coles (2012-)
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