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If one successful model has her way, a popular racy magazine will no longer be able to target minors with its questionable headlines.
Model and actress Nicole Weider is leading a Change.org campaign demanding that Cosmopolitan be sold in a non-transparent wrapper to adults only, to prevent children from buying and reading material inappropriate for their development. As of Wednesday, the petition has gained more than 20,000 signatures.
Expressing frustration with the magazine, she writes on her website: “As most of you know I’m a strong Christian; I really believe in God and I also believe in the devil and I believe in the enemy. This magazine has the devil written all over it because he wants to kill and destroy young girls' hearts and minds and Cosmopolitan is just a vessel for that.”
The model initially created a YouTube video displaying her discontent with the magazine and posted it to her fast-growing website geared toward Christian teenage girls, ProjectInspired.com. Weider received so many responses from girls—as young as 11—who had been negatively affected by Cosmopolitan that she decided to create a Change.org petition.
“They write me letters detailing how they've tried the sexual tips written about in Cosmo, only to get their hearts broken, or worse—getting pregnant or catching an STD,” she explains. “But let’s not forget other behaviors Cosmo displays in a glamorous package to young girls, such as sexting nude pictures of yourself (November 2011) and suggesting that it is ‘normal’ if your boyfriend cheats on you (December 2011).”
Publications featuring overtly adult content must be sold in non-transparent wrappers and only to customers over the age of 18. However, Cosmo—with cover articles featuring graphic sexuality—has snuck under the radar, claiming that its publication is targeted to readers who are of age.
Weider points out that while the magazine claims it only targets adults, one recent cover featured 17-year-old Dakota Fanning, right next to text that read, “Too Naughty to Say Here. But you HAVE to try this Sex Trick.” Disney favorite Selena Gomez, 19, is reported to be scheduled as the cover model for an upcoming issue. If the magazine is not targeting an underage audience, then why, Weider asks, is it putting teen heroines on its cover?
“We are not asking Cosmopolitan to change their content,” explains Weider. “We simply want them to take responsibility for it. They say it’s for adults, so let them sell it only to adults. This is what we are in communication with the FTC about. If they are going to print sexually explicit articles and images, it should not be marketed and sold to kids.”
The campaign began last year after Weider purchased a copy of the magazine and was shocked by its content.
“I couldn’t believe how pornographic the content had become,” she notes. “I started thinking about my teenage siblings and was horrified that their age-group had easy access to this graphic material.
“With our change.org petition, we simply ask that the magazine admit its content is not appropriate for young girls, stop putting teens on the cover and put the magazine in a non-transparent wrapper. It’s that simple. If you aren’t marketing to teen girls, then this request shouldn’t be an issue.”
A study by the American Psychological Association, titled “Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls,” suggests that the proliferation of sexual images of girls in the media is harming and impeding healthy development, self-image and body-image, and is now linked to common mental health problems including eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression.
“Exposure to over-sexualization during the early and teen years almost always disturbs the development of a consistent yet flexible sense of self, resulting in deeply rooted objectification and personality disorders,” explains Los Angeles-based Dr. Shandiz Zandi. “These disorders manifest behaviors such as self-mutilation, eating disorders, prostitution, drug addiction and other behaviors that are destructive to self and others.”
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