In Cosmo, “SEX” Is Always on Top

Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 13 2012 4:34 PM

In Cosmo, “SEX” Is Always on Top

Helen Gurley Brown, who edited Cosmopolitan magazine for 30 years, died Monday morning. As the New York Times notes, Brown “took over at the magazine in 1965, giving it its sexually frank tone.”

To locate Brown’s legacy in the pages of today’s magazine, you need not look any further than its cover. A quick Google image search for “Cosmopolitan covers” pulls up the gallery below (which we've left unedited), with “SEX” blaring in all-caps in the top-left corner of nearly every issue:

120813_BB_CosmopolitanMagsEX

Why the top-left corner? Readers' eyes move from top to bottom and left to right, so this way “SEX” comes first. (It’s a strategy Brown also employed with her own books, which included Sex and the Single Girl and Sex and the Office.)

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Of course not every cover includes “SEX” so bluntly in that top spot. One cover advertises “The Blended Orgasm,” another "How to Touch A Naked Man." Meanwhile, the Turkish edition sells “SEKS.”

120813_BB_CosmoTurkEX

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

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