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May 17, 2012

Cosmo Brings "Sexy vs. Skanky" To YouTube

There's a new YouTube channel called Hello Style that features weekly shows about fashion and beauty. It features shows produced by several women's magazines like Marie Claire, Seventeen, and our BFFs at Cosmo.

Some of the shows are based on columns and features from the magazines themselves, like Seventeen's prom specials and Marie Claire's "Big Girl in a Skinny World". So what did Cosmo choose for the show that would represent their magazine? That would be "Sexy vs. Skanky", of course! This is a feature that appears in each issue of the magazine in which Cosmo arbitrarily classifies random things like "posing with a hot dog" as either sexy or skanky. Our favorite Sexy vs. Skanky column of all time was one from last year where they included "slut-shaming" on the skanky list - so one step forward by acknowledging that slut-shaming exists and is a bad thing and two steps back by implying that the reason slut-shaming is bad is because it's too slutty, or something. Typical Cosmo logic.

Anyway, on to the show. Here's the premiere episode, hosted by Jessie Cantrell and Cosmo Senior Editor Carolyn Kylstra (or you can just skip to our breakdown below, because as with the magazine we're willing to watch so you don't have to):

First, let's talk about the problem that you don't even need to click play to see. I'm not surprised at all that Cosmo would choose "What Guys Think About ____" as the format for this show. If you read Cosmo regularly (which I don't recommend), you know that they encourage women to center all of their life decisions right down to the color of our nail polish on the question of what a guy might think. "What do guys think?" is the "what would Jesus do?" of Cosmo's theology.

Next, the choice quotes from Jessie and Carolyn's intro:

"We're on a mission to help all the ladies who may not know when they've crossed the line from hot to hot mess." (So glad these angels of mercy have come into our lives.)

"And don't feel bad if you've had a trashy moment or two in the past. We're all survivors of skanky decisions here, especially when it comes to today's topic...cleavage." (I feel so much lighter now that Cosmo has given me permission to let go of the guilt and shame of all of my past trashy and skanky fashion mistakes.)

Then, it's on to some man on the street interviews about cleavage. Finally! I had to watch a whole 42 seconds of this video before they finally got to the all important "what guys think" part. It's all pretty boring and mostly boils down to 'we like boobs', but this guy was definitely my favorite:
Cleavage Analyst Guy: It causes a lot of awkwardness, I think. Especially, you know, I have a girlfriend so if I'm with her and I'm walking somewhere and there's cleavage hanging out somewhere, it's like...I'm like a robot.

Jessie Cantrell: Your eyes can't help it.

Cleavage Analyst Guy: No, they can't. Now I'm training myself just to stare straight ahead.
I'm so sorry, sir. I'll be sure to start wearing baggy sweatshirts everywhere I go because you can't control yourself and avoid leering at me in front of your girlfriend.

Next, our hosts welcome in Cosmo Fashion Director Michelle McCool to give us some cleavage rules. They're all really fascinating, like 'don't squish them together' and 'no deep v-necks if you're more than a B cup' (a rule that Cosmo breaks on its own cover like every other month). Kim Kardashian is their "sexy" celebrity example because "she always does a great job with her chest, she covers enough and shows enough".

Aubrey O'Day is not so lucky. They show a photo of her wearing a low-cut dress - it doesn't quite fit her right so it's not the most flattering dress I've ever seen, but whatever. For committing this horrible sin Aubrey gets the word skanky plastered in huge letters under her picture while our hosts discuss how "tragic" it is that she didn't adjust the straps of the dress properly, and Cantrell finishes things off by saying "I'm worried the implants are gonna pop." Fun!

To keep the good times rolling, they move on to a game called Guess the Breasts!, which features cropped photos of celebrity cleavage because it's always fun to reduce women to random body parts. First up is a photo of JWoww ("those boobs look drunk"), followed by Mariah Carey ("that is really bad...sideboob is supposed to be subtle"). The celeb in the next photo (spoiler alert: it's Anne Hathaway), who is pronounced "pasty white", is also showing a little sideboob, so our hosts ask cleavage expert McCool "is that okay?" She replies, "I hate to say this but it depends on how old she is, cause if she's really old I don't want to see that much of her body." Leaving aside the fact that she's probably not "really old" if you can't actually tell how old she is from the cropped photo, it's almost like they sat around while scripting this talking about how to make sure they shamed as many women as possible and came up with ageism as a creative solution.

To end the show, we have a discussion of cleavage as a "useful tool for dating". Of course, since "not every date requires the same level of exposure", we'll need more rules to follow to make sure we're doing things right. Kylstra informs us that "Cosmo polls tell us that when women want to keep seeing a guy, they wait on average until the fifth date or longer before they sleep with him". (I guess these would be those super scientific polls that Cosmo likes to conduct via Twitter and Facebook.) Once this fifth date gospel has been established, we can move on to the cleavage dating chart.

On the first date, your cleavage should be sexy, but make sure it's a "tasteful" sexy so that he'll want to ask you on a second date. On the third date, you be thinking ahead to the fifth date, so make sure to keep him interested by "showing another side of you" with a casual (but still sexy) outfit. On the fifth date you can show a little more cleavage since you're trying to "seal the deal", but make sure it's sultry cleavage and not tacky cleavage. Got all that? I hope so, because if you don't follow all of these rules you'll surely die alone and unloved.

Our ESC dating chart is a little bit simpler. Rule #1 is "wear whatever the fuck you want" and there are no other rules.

I watched this show right after it premiered on YouTube last night, and I couldn't resist leaving a comment. (It's currently one of the video's top comments. We do what we can.) Since it was the first episode, they were actually responding to a lot of the feedback. Here's our comment and their reply:
evilslutclique - Oh cool, another show that revolves around slut-shaming women for wearing what they want and doing what they want. Just what the world needs.

HelloStyleChannel - We're sorry you didn't like the show :-( Our channel is all about celebrating women, and this show is no exception -- if you don't want to try these style suggestions, no worries! Thanks for sharing your opinion xo
Right. I'm sure Aubrey O'Day and Mariah Carey would feel really "celebrated" by this show.

We found some of the other comments and replies to be just as illuminating:
laurenwhit279 - My husband watched with this me and he agreed with the second and third guy. He likes a little cleavage, but if they're way too big or there's too much showing he said it's really gross. Sometimes we'll see women like that and he just feels awkward. I understand that sometimes you can't help but notice though.

HelloStyleChannel - Love that you watched it together! We always value a guy's opinion :-)
Truer words were never spoken. Cosmo always values a guy's opinion. Any guy. Even in situations where a guy's opinion is really not relevant or necessary. If they replaced "Fun Fearless Female" with "We Always Value A Guy's Opinion" as their magazine's tagline, it would be a lot more accurate. Incidentally, the last time Cosmo slut-shamed Aubrey O'Day, it was for posing for pictures holding a t-shirt she designed with a message that implied that she values herself more than she values men and their precious guy opinions. I'm sensing a pattern developing here.
ebilmuffins - Why do we need to associate words like "skanky" and "slutty" with how women dress? I don't get it. This is incredibly disrespectful, in my eyes.

HelloStyleChannel - We're sorry you think so :-( We definitely don't mean to be disrespectful -- our channel is all about celebrating women! "Sexy Vs. Skanky" is a well-loved column in Cosmo each month, so we're proud to translate it into a new YouTube show. Thanks for sharing your opinion with us xo
So you're calling women skanks, telling us to make sure we don't look too trashy because guys won't want to ask us out, saying that older women's bodies are gross and should be as covered up as possible, and cracking obnoxious jokes about someone's breast implants...but not in a disrespectful way. Oh, I get it now! And I'm pretty skeptical about their claim that the Sexy vs. Skanky column is so well-loved, but the real problem is that they think it's true and they're so proud of it that they'd choose it as the one thing from the magazine that they wanted to "translate" for this show. I guess I should thank them though, because they've also managed to translate everything that's wrong with Cosmo in one five minute video.


Cajita-Feliz said...

I love the emphasis put on the phrase "5 dates OR MORE", as though it is so incredibly long that there's a risk of the man's penis exploding mid-sentence.

Because after 5 dates you've known this guy probably 3 weeks, maybe an entire month! Surely you should get naked and let him put his naked fleshbits INSIDE your body by that long!

My God, why are men not dropping dead from this sudden 5-date rule?

Anonymous said...

I wonder how people would feel if men wore clothes that showed a part of their penis in public. Would some people stare and make him feel uncomfortable?