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The new, no-nonsense Cosmo girl


Readers didn't know what to expect when legendary editor and original Cosmo girl Helen Gurley Brown passed the reins to a more modern-thinking Bonnie Fuller in February 1997.

Now the magazine's fans find themselves in a similar position, with Fuller moving on to work her magic at Glamour, and former Redbook editor Kate White stepping into the distinguished position at Cosmopolitan.

White has been editor in chief of Child, McCall's and Working Women. She has also written two books: "Nine Women Who Get Everything They Want" and "Why Good Girls Don't Get Ahead but Gutsy Girls Do."

We asked the newest Cosmo girl how she plans to take college campuses' top-selling fashion magazine into the next century.

It's a long way from Redbook to Cosmo. Why were you interested in the job?

It's not such a long way. At Redbook, we covered marriage, sexuality and health for working moms. At Cosmo, we are talking to that reader's younger counterpart.

What changes will you make to the magazine?

I have to keep working toward the goal we made several years ago to make Cosmo more contemporary. I added the "Cosmo Gyno" column because there is a nervousness among young women about how comfortable the gynecological experience will be. This column will give women a chance to ask questions they may not ask their doctors.

I am also widening fitness coverage. Fitness is so much more important for women now than it was 20 years ago.

Any worry that Cosmo places too high a value on looking and acting sexy? Is that a good image to project for today's woman?

In the '70s and '80s, when women first entered the work force, they wanted to project a buttoned-up image. God forbid anyone would see us as sexy! Women today are more comfortable with their sexuality, and they don't feel it always has to be under wraps. Certainly you're not going to show your thong underwear to your boss, like Monica [Lewinsky] did. I'd like to think the Cosmo reader is smarter than that. But we can admit the many facets that make up our personalities.

How has the Cosmo girl changed in the last 20 years?

The point where her dreams match her life is closer. She feels the world is her oyster. Today, maybe she wants more, but she knows it takes work. What she wants from us is the extra kick to get on the right track.

Do you think the magazine goes overboard with features about how to please a man?

I live a fulfilling life, and part of that is pleasing my husband. Just the other day, I sent him a goofy card that said, "Sending You a Big Wet One." I realized, I'm living a Cosmo moment!

I believe women are the caretakers. Ten years ago, I wouldn't have felt as comfortable talking about pleasing my husband, but now women know that's a big part of a relationship, and it's not at the expense of being who you are and having a fabulous job.

The Big 6 supermodels are growing up and moving on. Cindy Crawford is 32, and that's fairly old to be gracing Cosmo's cover. Today's new crop of models is more offbeat-looking. Will the Cosmo look change to embrace this new generation?

The Big 6 are growing up, yet some of them are still a perfect fit for Cosmo. Cindy did two covers last year, and we just shot some fabulous fashion with her. But we're also always searching for the hottest new models. Though we do some celebrity covers, readers still love to see the top models.

There are some models these days who are wonderful-looking and, as you say, very interesting. But they wouldn't be right for a Cosmo cover. Our reader wants to look at a gorgeous, sexy version of the girl next door.

Pub Date: 12/31/98

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