So Cosmo Proves That Cosmopolitan Might Be More Diverse Than I Thought

Photo: Joe Schildhorn/BFA/REX/Shutterstock
Last night E! debuted a special preview of their upcoming reality show about some of the upper level employees at Cosmopolitan magazine. So Cosmo follows the daily grind of the former editor-in-chief, Joanna Cole, and some of the other editors, mainly in their fashion and beauty section, as they run the magazine.

Cosmo has been part of my life for a while. As a teenager I had a subscription to Cosmo Girl magazine; and before I was done being a teenager I was really into the sexy headlines on the cover of the grown up version. Cosmo is known for frankly addressing women’s sex lives — they specialize in giving their cover girls freshly fucked bed hair. As a publication that targets young working women, there is obviously going to be fashion and beauty coverage; looking your best can play a huge part in hooking up. But I was admittedly surprised that the show framed Cosmopolitan as a fashion and beauty mag. “I need some style inspo. Elle? Nope. Vogue? Nah. Nylon? Meh. Oooo, Cosmo is perfect!” said no one ever. But perhaps I was misinformed.

I was even more surprised to see so much diversity among the cast. One of the reasons I lost interest in reading Cosmo into adulthood was the lack of diversity and edginess in their content. As a fat, Black, queer woman many of their stories, even the ones about sex, felt a little too vanilla — all puns intended. But amongst the staff on the show there are a plethora of identities being brought into the fray.

Tiffany Reid, the senior fashion market editor, is a Black woman from the Bronx who credits the church outfits that the women in her family wore as her first foray into fashion. She’s explicit about her desire to see more representation of women of color in fashion. Diandra Barnwell is the company’s brand coordinator and a multiracial woman from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She attributes her uniqueness to being from a small town, which adds another layer of nuance to how women of color navigate the world around them. There are also several queer men: Steven Brand, the bookings director; James Demolet, another senior fashion editor; and Adam Mansuroglu, a fashion editor.

So Cosmo offers viewers, and readers, a fresh take on a magazine that’s been around for more than a century. For obvious reasons, they’re serving up some drama in the process. In addition to in-house romance, the employees work in a hyper competitive atmosphere. Last night’s preview hints at some professional cattiness. One thing is for sure: none of the staff working under Cole stabbed anyone in the back for her role. When she got promoted to chief content officer at Hearst, Cosmo’s publisher, in September she was succeeded by outsider Michele Promaulayko.
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