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Cosmo Girls: The Construction of Feminine Discourse in Cosmopolitan Magazine

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posted on 2021-05-24, 13:00 authored by Isabella Burlon
This Major Research Paper will examine the ways in which Cosmopolitan magazine’s cover page headlines have constructed, aligned with, or challenged discourse around femininity in the past decade (2010-2019). The purpose of this study is to make the linguistic devices used to manipulate readers transparent and reveal the media’s role in creating and maintaining societal norms – which can be liberating or restricting. A critical discourse analysis will be applied to examine Cosmopolitan’s communications to their target audience and how such communication earns social meaning. This paper finds that while Cosmopolitan magazine becomes slightly more progressive towards the end of the decade, its content remains heavily focused on sex and beauty which presents women and their interests in a trivial manner. Cosmopolitan’s headlines instruct readers on how to become a ‘Cosmo Girl’, suggesting that any other type of woman is subpar. Cosmopolitan’s headlines reveal societal assumptions about women and promote outdated expectations by encouraging readers to prioritize men and romantic relationships. With very little content about education, technology, or other modern topics, Cosmopolitan headlines are determined to be limiting. Keywords: Headlines, Discourse, Gender, Presupposition(s), Interdiscursivity, Intertextuality, Diachrony, Idiom(s), Modal Verb(s), Sex, Relationships, Beauty, Fashion, Lifestyle, Health, Fitness, Career





Master of Professional Communication


Professional Communication

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type