You’re Not Cosmopolitan

Music to quietly hum to yourself every time a vendor calls with this “problem.”

Update: The artist who took the self portrait for the cover in question, Ana Alvarez-Errecalde contacted me this afternoon requesting the following clarification. After Facebook censored the cover image, it was the artist, Ana Alvarez who changed the image by placing the red dot on her chest. In her words, this solved the problem by both drawing attention to the magazine and pointing out the double standards in society. It also made two versions of the cover, the censored going out to the newsstand, and the uncensored out to subscribers. In the end, this was a consensus decision reached by both the artist and Hip Mama.

A number of years ago, my client list included an “alternative art” magazine that had the tendency to include NSFW pictures inside it’s book. I had no problem with this, and as near as I could tell, neither did anyone else who actually read the magazine. On the other hand, one of our major retailers had a significant problem with the content and would periodically relegate the magazine to the back of the rack or require the publisher to polybag.

Eventually, the retailer wound up requiring the publisher to polybag every single issue. The upside of this was that sales went up (Forbidden fruit anyone?).

During a conversation with the publisher about this issue, the subject of Cosmopolitan and some of their objectionable cover lines and images was brought up. “So why do they pick on us?” the client wanted to know.

“It’s simple,” I replied, “You’re not Cosmopolitan.”

It would be nice if the world and it’s participants would play fair. But tsunamis wash over the righteous and the unrighteous. Houses burn down, terminal illnesses blossom. And large vertical corporate entities get to decide who they want to mess with and who they will reward by whatever rules they decide to abide by at that particular time. If you don’t like it, feel free to complain to your consultant. It’s what we’re paid for.

Hip Mama magazine is a small, buzz worthy magazine with a small newsstand footprint.

Recently their editor did the smart thing, placed an image of their upcoming cover on their Facebook page. The readers responded. Apparently mostly positively.

Editor’s note: Dear Publishers, there is no reason all of you can not start immediately doing this simple task. Thank you.

The cover image in question was of a Spanish based artist  who wore a Spider Man mask and was breastfeeding her son.

It kind of makes sense for a magazine called Hip Mama.

The artist is topless, her son is wearing is wearing the rest of the Spider Man costume. He’s four years old.

The latest issue of Hip Mama
The latest issue of Hip Mama

Frankly, I see nothing wrong with the image. But unfortunately I can  understand that a distributor or retailer, even one that would happily carry Hip Mama may hesitate for a moment. It turned out that Facebook had a problem with this image and had them take it down. Then Hip Mama‘s newsstand vendor contacted them and told them they had some problems with the cover.

Of course, regular readers of this blog may remember this:

So 2012...
So 2012…

Yes, we have passed this way, again.  And again and again.

Periodically, larger magazines like Time, or Marie Claire, or Cosmopolitan, have something on their cover that incites someone, somewhere and the issue gets pulled. It gets placed behind other titles, covered up, what have you. Usually this will only happen in one or two retailers of any note.


A number of years back, Marie Claire got "censored" rather publicly... Source: FishbowlNY
A number of years back, Marie Claire got “censored” rather publicly… Source: FishbowlNY

It is a little rare these days for the majority of a shipment to get censored.

You have to hand it to the editor at Hip Mama and the artist. They came up with a very clever and sensible solution. The tag line for the publication is “No Supermom’s Here” and they put it in a large red dot over the artists chest. Everything got covered up.

Ready to ship!
Ready to ship!

The publisher also invited readers to buy the “uncensored” cover directly from them therefore bypassing those squeamish vendors and retailers.

My simple unpaid, unsolicited and uninvited advice to the publisher is this: I love it. Keep it up. Keep pushing the boundaries. But be prepared. You’re not Cosmopolitan.





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