Fun, Fearless, Feminist?: Gender and Sexuality In Cosmopolitan

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Wilkins, Gabriella
American Literature; American Material Culture; American Popular Culture; American Studies
thesis / dissertation description
Magazines, like other forms of popular culture, impact our identities and perceptions of ourselves and of the society that we live in. In my thesis, I seek to draw a connection between a fashion and beauty magazine, Cosmopolitan, and Third Wave feminism. Criticism of the magazine has stemmed from the idea that Cosmo expresses contradicting ideologies and focuses too closely on women’s ability to please men. For my research, I look at the history and motives behind the Second and Third Wave movements and how they differentiate. Then, by considering and applying contemporary feminist theory, I deconstruct and analyze the magazine. I argue that, despite its glossy cover and apolitical nature, Cosmopolitan does reiterate and perpetuate components of contemporary feminist thought by representing female gender identity and sexuality as empowering and inspiring.