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Walmart To Remove 'Cosmopolitan' From Checkout Aisle

A <em>Cosmopolitan</em> magazine from November 1976. Since being rebranded as a women's magazine in 1965, it has become a mainstay of shopping aisles. Walmart said Tuesday it is removing <em>Cosmo</em> from its check-out lines.
Suzanne Vlamis

The nation's largest retailer has bounced Cosmopolitan from the coveted checkout aisle following a years-long campaign targeting the women's magazine for its "hyper-sexualized" covers and content.

Walmart said Tuesday that it was removing the magazine from checkout lines at its 5,000 stores across the country.

"Walmart will continue to offer Cosmopolitan to customers that wish to purchase the magazine, but it will no longer be in the checkout aisles," the company said in a statement. "While this was primarily a business decision, the concerns raised were heard."

Those concerns were raised by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, which compares Cosmo to porn and has waged a campaign for years to get it removed from store shelves. It had previously succeeded in getting Rite Aid stores and Delhaize America (which owns Food Lion) to put Cosmopolitan behind blinders, according to USA Today.

"Cosmo sends the same messages about female sexuality as Playboy," NCOSE, which changed its name from Morality in Media three years ago, said in a statement.

"It places women's value primarily on their ability to sexually satisfy a man and therefore plays into the same culture where men view and treat women as inanimate sex objects," the statement said. "Further, Cosmo targets young girls by placing former Disney stars on its covers, despite the enclosed sexually erotic articles which describe risky sexual acts like public, intoxicated, or anal sex in detail. Customers should not be forced to be exposed to this content when they are trying to check-out at the store."

In a Facebook Live session on Tuesday, NCOSE's Vice President of Advocacy and Outreach Haley Halverson said the move represented "one less drop of hyper-sexualized media that is going to be bombarding people in their everyday lives."

Cosmopolitan, which bills itself as a "bible for fun, fearless females," is published by Hearst Corp., which had no immediate comment on Walmart's decision.

The magazine was first published in 1886 as a family offering called The Cosmopolitan. It later became a literary magazine before being rebranded in 1965 as a women's magazine. It claims to reach more than 17 million adults per month and publishes dozens of international editions.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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