Final Project! A New Cosmopolitan
I have to admit that upon completion of this final project, I feel completely brain dead, but very pleased with the results. Originally, James had suggested our project focus on “representation of the body,” which spurred ideas of dress, specifically swimsuits. Perhaps it was because summer was on my mind, but most likely it was because I was in the middle of a textual analysis of women’s magazines, specifically Cosmopolitan, as well as looking at studies on young women’s self-image and media consumption. When James stated that he wanted us to use the project to experiment with generating images, and trying different techniques, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do something I had always wanted to do: make an alternative magazine. I believe it was Ashley who suggested that I use Cosmo for a template for my magazine, and after examining my issues with the publication (1. it provides useless information for your life, 2. it sells you stuff you don’t need and 3. it makes you feel like, for lack of a better word, shit), it was clear that utilizing Cosmo’s layout for my project would be a great way to comment on not just Cosmo, but mainstream magazines’ portrayal of women in our society and consumption in general.
My intention was to produce a “magazine” that both commented on the content of a typical Cosmpolitan, as well as experimented with different forms of creativity, in terms of execution and ideas and images presented. One of the most exciting aspects of the process was getting my friends and family involved in the process. They were instrumental in providing a photo shoot that was not involved in selling designer clothes, but which came out of their own creative interests (my youngest brother arranged it for his birthday), as well as providing “alternative” texts on sexuality, including lists on what is “sexy” (decidedly unsexy things by Cosmo standards) and a surprisingly graphic lesbian erotic story (I don’t even think that Cosmo has ever acknowledged that a relationship has existed outside of their heteronormative standards). Personally, I loved taking out my anger towards the narrowness and stupidity of Cosmo on this project, in terms of consumption, its obsession with men and looking “hot,” and having no information outside these topics.
I think the project was pretty successful. My biggest frustration has been the actual execution in terms of materials. The magazine certainly is not professional looking. Most of the ink, both stenciled and letterpressed ink, leaked through the pages. Almost completely handmade, with digital and polaroid photos, hand-written, stenciled, letterpress and typewritten text, I had to piece together the entire thing by doing a lot of cutting and pasting (literally). I am dubious in terms of how well the magazine will hold up, as the thickness (about five times thicker than a real magazine, given the materials (I stayed true to the page count)) prevented me from being able to bind it in a more professional way. I think the content, however, provides for a much more interesting read, and a decidedly different representation, of the usual world Cosmopolitan provides you with.
I am very excited about my final project and could talk about it for pages and pages...tried to sum it up above though.