Money en-us catherined at cosmopolitan dot co dot za Copyright 2009 Kickin' It
Which is why we're revamped the vamp that is COSMO to reflect all that you stand for right now: originality, individuality, positivity. We did it quite quickly because, as you know, no-one's got time to be waiting on change. But once all was done and we poured ourselves a Bell's we were - we are -super-happy. 

What's changed? Not everything; just the bits that needed freshening. Our cover tars are more authentically themselves ( like you: cool but still cr*p hot). We've introduced a regular tattoo page (shock, horror ... not!) to show you the best way to beautify and show off your marking, or inspire you if you're thinking of getting one. Our new Backstage Pass page not only gives you insights into the latest beauty trends but also which Instagram filters work best with which looks - because " life is waiting ... but first, a selfie.) Our (award-winning, no less) art director Juan has injected incredible energy and fun tino the pages.

But I'm not going to give it all away here. Look for yourself, and let me know what you think!

Wed, 16 Jul 2014 12:00 +0200
Clap Along If You Feel Happy Happy. Perfect choice! I was so happy to be discussing, debating and delighting in COSMO with 118 fellow editors and publishers from 61 editions around the world. I was so happy to be in Buenos Aires with tis colourful street art-strewn walls and tango-filled late, late nights. But mostly, I found it fitting because it made me think of you. Because you’re happy. No matter what is going on in your life (your guy called it quits last night = devasted/ you’re eating Salticrax already and it’s only half way through the month), you smile. Well, eventually. You know that the end of every good cry you’ll feel better.

Even as I write this, there are negative Twitter updates popping on my screen, demanding I pay attention to more grumbles about “the state of the nation”. At the same time, thought leaders @TashJoeZA and @GugsM are spoofing Madam and Eve and taking the political piss. I love that, as South Africans, as women, we can laugh at tough times. I also love that we know when to take stuff seriously, when to be engaged with the real world and enraged with the real world.

It’s the complexity, passion and energy that’s in every one of you that makes me happy. And so, on the back of our conference (where COSMO South Africa won two prized awards that made me very happy). I’ve returned ready to shake sh*t up. In this and the months to come, we will be testing, tweaking and tangoing with our pages to make them more modern and addictive.

E-mail me to say what you want to see more of – or not at all. I love your input

Wed, 11 Jun 2014 12:00 +0200
Loving Our Issues
To start with: jeans. They are my absolute #sorrynotsorry pleasure. I have more pairs than necessary, yet not enough to satiate my need for just. One. More. So yay for our 45-page-after-perfect-page denim special.

Then on page 64 we take a look at a quirky (but not uncommon) phenomenon known as premature infatuation. You know, when you fall for a guy way too quickly. Reading the story made me cringe with recognition. I remember, years back, ‘falling in love’ with a bassist who just happened to glance my way while singing backup during a somewhat schmaltzy love song. In that moment, he was my life. Literally. I told him so. Loudly.
He looked scared. Rightfully. Let’s just say it was an awks festival weekend for everyone involved.

On page 110, we ‘Say “no” to fat talk’. This article could not have come at a better time for me. It’s winter and I’m feeling more, um, filled out than usual. This year I pledge not to verbally bash my body because of it.

I spent too much time editing down images of the guys that make up our 2014 fantasy football team on page
76; felt completely incensed when reading our exposé on page 54 that investigates guys taking inappropriate ‘creepshots’ of girls like you and me; was inspired enough by our story on camper vans on page 123 to get my girlfriends to commit to a weekend road trip up the West Coast; and, thanks to our article on authenticity on page 40, vowed to be more me as I move into the second half of this year.

I love this issue. I hope you do too. E-mail me during the month and let me know.

Wed, 14 May 2014 12:00 +0200
Let's Talk about Love
1. Kindness is one of the most important traits you should look for in a partner.

2. If he’s rude to the waitress/ barman/bouncer/taxi driver, you’re probably next.

3. The last guy at the bar is never a good idea. (Neither is the first.)

4. Don’t give him an ultimatum unless you’re truly prepared to lose him.

5. Showing enthusiasm during sex (even on those ‘OMG-do-I-have- to’ days) is not only a massive turn- on for him but also a nonverbal communication of care and love.

6. Would he make a good father? It’s the most important question you can ever ask.

7. Beer in the fridge and biltong in the cupboard can divert a lot of fighting. (Only applicable if you’re dating a South African.)

8. If he wants to be with you, he’ll make a plan to be with you. If he says he’s busy at work/doesn’t have airtime/insert excuse here, he’s (say it with me) just not that into you.

9. If you’re with him because of his spotlight (actor/musician/sportsman), you’re letting yourself down. His spotlight will only cast shadows over you.

10. If you’re with him for his money, stop your own madness. Now.

You are smart, self-sufficient and worth more than bought love.

Now that you’ve heard from Dr Cath, what pearls have you picked up about dating and guys? I’d love to hear from you, and share them with the rest of our readers.

Then turn to page 58 to see how your and his differing love languages might be tripping up your relationship. Single? Thinking about having a one- night stand? See what writer Melissa Jeltsen says on page 72 about her experience. I hope you love this issue!


Thu, 23 Jan 2014 12:00 +0200
To Miley or Not to Miley That article was written in 1990 – about Madonna. Now another enfant terrible has stormed the world stage, and some of the older generation has lit up with indignation. How did she respond? She
lit up (on) the MTV EMAs. There’s no doubt 2013 was Miley’s ‘break-out’ year. As our story on page 26 says, this time last year the biggest thing she’d done was cut her hair. And here she is now, after a year of twerking on everyone, sticking her tongue out at everything, a broken engagement,
a feud with Sinéad O’Connor, three awards-show performances that broke the Internet, put-it-away pictures taken by icky Uncle Terry Richardson, naked wrecking-ball swinging and, lest we forget, number-one hits on major charts and a handful of awards.

Miley is Marmite – you either love her or you hate her. Is she right for COSMO? Well, she’s young, she’s business-smart, she’s living fearlessly, she owns her decisions and her space. There’s no doubt she’s made some mistakes. But what speaks to the spirit that is COSMO: mouse or daring lioness? Should we not all be aspiring to take risks and put ourselves out there? I know my answer. But we all make up COSMO so I’d love to hear what you have to say. Mail me. Let me know. Whether you’re angered or thrilled, I’d like to hear what you have to say about Miley being on your magazine’s cover.

A new year is here, and I can’t wait to spend it with you. Enjoy the sun, enjoy the beautiful boys in the calendar and tell me how this year is going to be your #alltimehigh! ]]>
Thu, 19 Dec 2013 12:00 +0200
You're Not A Fluke. You're Awesome Full Stop. Which is why I'm so grateful to be working on a magazine that makes me stop, think, laugh. And if your many tweets, posts and e-mails are any indication, you appreciate COSMO for that too. 

This month, the intimate images of our fierce cover star Jennifer Lopez made me take a moment. A few artists are as hard-working or have seen her level of success. Yet when you read our interview on page 46, you'll see how insecurity has weighed her down. She told us that even though she had sold 70-million records, she still felt she was 'not very good'. Until she realised, 'This is not a fluke. I'm not a mistake - I work my ass off.'
Why do we so often feel like frauds, not worthy of our place - as though, at any moment, someone will figure out we don't know what we're doing? It's so common (especially among women in the working environment), that the psychological phenomenon has a name: Impostor Syndrome. It's mad. And maddening. You are where you are because you're smart, you work hard, you've been fearless in your choices and you're committed to being a success - in whatever field or life stage you are. I'm reminding you of this now. Ditch your inner troll. Take credit. I celebrate you everyday that I come to work. You should too. Be good to you this month. 

Wed, 16 Oct 2013 12:00 +0200
Fun, Fearless, Festival Days would) become ‘completely irresistible to the opposite sex after just one spray’. It works like a magnet, attracting people
around you, according to the ad. The idea of a ‘sexual-attraction’ spray made me think of that scene in Anchorman, when Brian Fantana tries to sell the idea of ‘Sex Panther’ to Ron Burgundy and his news crew. ‘They’ve done studies, you know. Sixty percent of the time, it works every time.’ Could it work? The cynic in me doubted it. Surely any positive results would be down to a kind of placebo effect – the confidence a previously-not-too-confident believer would have after using the product? (And men tell us that confidence is our most attractive trait.) But we asked one of our writers, Viatha Naidoo, to try it.
Read what happened on page 78.

Also in this issue, we have the ever-beautiful queen of Coachella style, Vanessa Hudgens (page 120), who shows us how to rock the festival-beauty look while rocking out. I love music-festival season: it’s a time of tent-living and merrymaking among the daisies. Unfortunately it’s also a time of dreadlocks that need a tub of Vaseline to get out at the end of the weekend, last-minute stops
for Citro-Soda after hovering over a public-toilet seat, and dried dirt masquerading as tan lines. Always fun – not always pretty. Follow the steps in Vanessa’s story to ensure you look gorgeous ... for the first day, at least. Every day after that is a beauty gamble, and a confidence-boosting cosmetic will indeed come in handy – though we’d suggest a good deodorant over a pheromone spray....

Tue, 17 Sep 2013 12:00 +0200
Lean In To Your Life One of the best things about my new position as editor of COSMO is that I get to spend time in great company. In the past month, I’ve brainstormed marketing opportunities with international branding specialist Martin Lindstrom (author of the bestseller Buyology), caught up with one of my favourite celebrities Bonang Matheba (read our interview on page 36) and spent much-valued time with our international editors from Hearst in New York.

But the moments I love most, when I truly appreciate the blessings that this job affords me, is the time I spend in your company. I’ve been inundated with e-mails, tweets and Facebook messages wishing me love and luck on my new journey. Thank you. I hope you all enjoy this issue as much as you did the last one.

Talking of good company, this month we’re very fortunate to have Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg guest-edit our careers special. Sandberg is the khaleesi of Silicon Valley and in her book Lean In, an extract from which you can find on page 138, she encourages women to ‘lean in’ to their careers by reaching for opportunities, taking a seat at the table, raising expectations and withstanding criticism. Take from the extract what will benefit you – no two women’s career experiences are the same. It could even be that your career is not something you want to lean in to. That’s okay – even that realisation will have a positive outcome if it means you start looking for something you do want to engage with.

And when you figure out just what it is that you want to lean in to (even that cute guy you’ve been eyeing for a while), let me know. I’d love to hear from you.
Wed, 23 Jan 2013 12:00 +0200
Who's your blush-crush?
And, since we’re sharing, I too have a cringeworthy Brit crush: Russell Brand.
Yes, he’s greasy and chavvy and has been around the block but, IMHO, he is also funny, smart, sharp and looks damn good in leather pants. But a crush does not always marriage material make – as our cover star Katy Perry realised after marrying, and subsequently divorcing, mine.

As she knows, finding the right person to partner with for life is not easy. Neither is organising a wedding once you’ve found him. If you’ve got a Big Day coming up (your own or your BFF’s), keep this issue of COSMO close
– with our 42-page bridal special, it’s certain to be fun and fabulous.

I’d love to hear about your inappropriate crush. I promise not to splash it all over the pages of COSMO!

Mon, 22 Jul 2013 12:00 +0200
Life's a Beach
Take a look: from stunning party-dress and makeup ideas to you-only-live-once advice (page 73) and happiness 24/7 tips (page 62); from taking control of your life (page 60) to making sure you don't blow your holiday budget before the long weekend (page 66) and how to fake it till you make it (page 68) (no, not that kind of faking!). You'll never need to pretend with a COSMO on your bedside table. (But if you've ever been tempted, read COSMO readers' secrets about the moves that take them to O-land on page 88.)

Then there's our Tech Hunter gadget guide, starting on page 197 - spot the great giveaways and gifting ideas. Anyone say Samsung Galaxy Note? We wish we were allowed to enter the competition!

We also commissioned the short but sexy beach read on page 111 because we just knew you'd love it. We dare you to read the naughty bits out loud to your mates… Hey, why not get together with your BFFs and write your own erotic fiction? You could be published in COSMO - see page 124 for details.

See you on the sand!

The COSMO Team

Mon, 17 Dec 2012 12:00 +0200
The COSMO Girl Who Changed The World
She was, of course, the inventive and madly gifted editor-in-chief of COSMO - a position she held for 32 years - who created a world where women could have amazing careers (see 'Head-hunt me!' on page 67), safe and guilt-free sex, and a chance to rule the planet with a bold (and perfectly manicured) hand. She defined lipstick feminism and is the reason COSMO is a global success, published today in 64 countries.

In her well-dressed office I admired Helen's black-and-white photographs, arranged impeccably on her desk. On display was her fun-filled, friend-filled and man-loved existence. It was clear this lady showed up for life and tangoed with it! (Turn to page 80 for 'The boredom-busting lasting-love formula' and page 64 for advice on playing 'happy framilies'.)

This is the life that Helen wanted every woman to have, and she evangelised this message of self-love and self-reliance in a non-preachy way in every editor's letter she penned and each book she authored.

There are stacks of 'isms' from this game-changer who gave women a sense they could be strong, sexy and successful. A few unforgettable lines that stuck with me are, 'What you have to do is work with the raw material you have, namely you, and never let up'; and the more candid, 'Don't use men to get what you want in life - get it yourself!' It doesn't get more real than that.

Her COSMO spawned smart, sassy women - the sort with opinions about the world and how they saw themselves in it. In honour of the fabulous spirit of Helen (turn to page 12 to see her life in photos and words) we've put together a how-to-get-everything-out-of-life issue - from becoming 'flawsome', to asking for (exactly) what you want in bed and getting it. We're all fun fearless females because Helen dared to be a bad girl.

Mon, 19 Nov 2012 12:00 +0200
Made For Success
I used the six-hour trek south to kick myself for wanting a career in media. After all, hadn't I been warned about how tough cracking it would be? Hadn't friends told me it was an unkind profession?

After a week mostly spent watching soapie reruns, I decided to make myself useful by spring-cleaning the house. But I soon got sidetracked by a pile of tattered magazines, and ended up on the floor flipping through them, reading pages produced by others who were living my life – the one I'd been inspired to pursue before I quit. I was reminded of who I wanted to be and where I had to be – and it wasn't on my mama's couch!

If you are reading this issue of COSMO at the very moment you want to give up because life seems to be cranking out disappointment, cry for a minute. (I suggest you time yourself.) Then, if your career path has hit an unexpected dead end, turn to page 59 to find out how to rebound after losing a job. (JK Rowling and Madonna sure did.) If it's end-of-year fatigue that's getting you down, read how to fight – through exercise and diet – for a happy, sexy, stronger you. (Check out COSMOPOLITAN Zest on page 181.)

There are tons of other features in this issue that'll get you off that 'can't' couch and back on the road to success. Not least the fierce footwear in our 'Sexy shoes' sealed section.

Girl, quitting is not an option!

Mon, 15 Oct 2012 12:00 +0200
Just Press Repeat
One of the greatest sartorial crimes of our times, as least in the eyes of the fashion media, is being nabbed in the same outfit twice. Blame it on Victoria Beckham who seems to have a pair of Loubs for each day of the next 100 years, or the tabloid hacks and bloggers who – with collective horror – screamed, ‘Not Again, Michelle!’ when the American First Lady wore her favourite dress for the sixth time.

But mere mortals like you and me have bought into this rule, too. In an effort to avoid being a ‘repeat outfit offender’, I’ve come close to a nervous breakdown and near bankruptcy shopping for something new, while a similar item hangs in my closet unworn. (If you've ever wondered why you never have anything to wear, look for the answers on page 72.)

The reality is most of us don't have the budget (or the closet space) to rock something new for every dinner date and at COSMO we believe outfit repeating is NOT a fashion crime.

It takes a fearless fashionista to wear what she loves as often as she likes. It takes an even savvier dresser to re-spin a beloved piece to get more wear out of it (page 130).

Besides, being fashion frugal should leave more time for other things like charting your career path (page 76), and upgrading your small-talk skills so you can network with the CEO (page 68).

Ultimately good things in life should always be on repeat. That includes a fabulous pair of shoes and great advice.

Until next issue,

Sbu Mpungose

Drop me a line with your thoughts at

Mon, 17 Sep 2012 12:00 +0200
The Fearless Factor
Flying solo on Friday night in Spain is not easy – for one, there's my inadequate Spanish, and reruns of Without A Trace had me firmly wary of the world. Besides, desperate is not a look I wear well. But a full week of being surrounded by COSMO editors (talk about a fearless lot) and speaking about the go-go-go attitude of COSMO girls around the world gave me the courage to step into my 'gotta-tweet-that' outfit and 'hell-yeah' shoes, and blow into the fiercest uptown club recommended by the cute Mediterranean concierge at my hotel.

Years of advice from COSMO thrust me into fifth gear: I went straight for the bar (communicates that you're up for fun), ordered a bit of liquid courage (something bitter so I wouldn't quaff it all down at once) and made friends with the bar staff (tricks time into going faster while you survey the terrain).

I stood in my 'Coke bottle' pose, as the COSMO stance is sometimes referred to, and scanned the club for friendly faces. Two drinks later, no-one had said a word to me – I was starting to look a bit sad and thinking about leaving when in walked two gorgeous and sociable guys. After some goofy pick-up line (bless!) they invited me to their table for champers and a grand evening of laughter.

It's true that a COSMO girl always (okay, mostly) gets what she wants. But waiting for good things to come can dent the ego. So this issue has tons of confidence-boosting tips that'll help you put fear in its place, whether you're taking yourself out on a date or making a toast at your girlfriend’s wedding. We let you in on why humour is the new sexy (page 62), offer a quiz that'll help you listen to your instincts (page 152), and give you four kickass apps to help you stay safe (page 142).


Sbu Mpungose

Drop me a line with your thoughts at

Mon, 20 Aug 2012 12:00 +0200
Ed To Ed JANE RAPHAELY unedited, I quizzed the original fun, fearless female, Jane Raphaely, who edited COSMO in 1984 – long before liberation, Twitter and instant idols.

SBU: What made you launch COSMO in South Africa?
JANE: I wanted to cater for the career women who were emerging here – they needed a magazine that saw them as individuals, not wives and mothers (or women waiting to be wives and mothers). South Africa also needed sexual liberation to go along with the other liberation that was coming. I had to leave the magazine I had created, Fairlady, to do this, which was heartbreaking, but I had the support of my husband, Michael, and we had the supersalesman of all time, Volker Kuhnel, as a partner. My book is not just the 'herstory' of magazines - it's my gift to all the women who've asked me, 'How did you do it?'

S: What three lessons have you learnt from women's magazines?
J: The magazine doesn't go to the printers because it is perfect – it goes because it is past the deadline (with thanks to Tina Fey); good editors don't talk – they listen; good magazines don't shout – they talk.

S: What one fashion item have you considered your weapon/armour?
J: Hot pants. It wasn't just to show off my legs but to be able to sit with my legs apart without flashing my broeks. Mary Quant understood this completely when she invented them!

S: Which sex coverline would best describe you?
J: A one-man woman who can write the book on men.

S: Who is your girl crush?
J: Christina Ricci.

S: What do you sing in the shower?
J: Nothing. Not only am I a bath person but I can't sing a note in tune.

S: Do you have any wishes that have not yet been fulfilled?
J: I want David de Rothschild (a young British adventurer and philanthropist who sailed a catamaran – the Plastiki – partially made of reclaimed plastic bottles across the Pacific in 2010 to focus world attention on the death of the ocean) to have something invented that will recycle the island of plastic waste in the Pacific into something that will stop northern Sudan destroying southern Sudan. Then I'd like George Clooney to stop worrying about southern Sudan and start worrying about the fate of women and children in South Africa.

S: Do you have any regrets?
J: I wish I had forced myself to be more athletic. But then I'd have read fewer books.

S: What would you want your last tweet on earth to be?
J: There are books in heaven.

S: Describe your life in a hashtag.
J: #whynot

Tue, 10 Jul 2012 12:00 +0200
Prep School
'Looking good' is one of the tick boxes on my meeting-prep check list. My instructions to assistants over the years have been clear: the false-lash-filler appointment comes before the meetings.

My worst meeting a few years ago saw me being ambushed in a meet-and-greet with an advertiser, with a total of five lashes (two and a half on each eyelid) and chipped nails. I spent an excruciating 10 minutes looking down, with clenched fists.

But not everyone has beauticians who will primp and prep them at their workplace during lunch hour. So this month we have loads of tips to ensure near-perfect hair at all times (our ethnic-hair supplement features cheat sheets and tips for every eventuality - even on looking great before and after sex or a swim) and how to achieve happy workwear (a bit of colour always helps to chase away those blue Mondays).

Making fun and fearless look effortless takes some doing. If you're feeling a little haggard from juggling your social diary, work obligations and nail appointments, turn to page 78 to find your perfect life pace.

Happy reading!

Sbu Mpungose

Mon, 18 Jun 2012 12:00 +0200
The Meme-ing Of Life
My obsesssionnnn has got to be the bearded, lipstick-wearing fashionista P'Trique, who's guilty of 'Sh*t Fashion Girls Say'. Love. Him. He's the hilarious harbinger of fashion truths and his witticisms are awkwardly true to life: 'It looked like Forever 21 vomited all over her', 'Can I have a nonfat, half-sweet, no-whip soy latte? Thanks!' and (my favourite) 'These are cab-to-kerb heels only'. ROTFLMAO!

It makes me think of the funny sh*t our very own fashion editor Bev Nates says while instructing models on a shoot. 'Relax your mouth.' 'Give us fairy fingers.' (How exactly does one do 'fairy fingers'? See for yourself in Bev's shoot on page 114.)

And while these memes are meant to elicit laughs (which they certainly did), watching them also made me realise how offensive we can be to each other - without even knowing it. Just watch 'Sh*t White Girls Say To Black Girls', 'Sh*t Girls Say To Gay Guys' and 'Sh*t Black Guys Say To White Girls' to see what I mean.

In there lies all our friendly prejudice. It's quite possible to be rude and hurtful to someone you're close to. Lesson learnt!

Sbu Mpungose

Mon, 21 May 2012 12:00 +0200
Act Up!
But instead of hiding in the toilet forever or fearing she wouldn’t fill those stilettos, Wintour admitted to faking it until she made it. She employed the maxim ‘Act like a lioness, even though you’re really just a kitten’.

The ‘art of faking it’ has similar results to the psychological phenomenon known as the placebo effect, where sometimes expectations (say, of the effect of a pill) can be strong enough to overcome a physical ailment (even if the pill contains only sugar).

This means no matter how scared you are of giving that sales presentation in front of your boss and colleagues, an injection of ‘Screw it, I know I can do this’ can alter the outcome.

Faking it until you make it is not to be confused with lying or fudging qualifications. Practice, preparation and aptitude are kings in pursuit of success but, when doubt visits, we need to borrow that armour of confidence. With enough practice, it becomes second nature – not because you’re getting good at faking it but because you’re really that amazing.

Mon, 16 Apr 2012 12:00 +0200
Sitting Pretty
Being friends with a pretty girl like Ange can be a blessing and a curse. Pretty opens doors to clubs and it's a man-magnet, drawing the most attractive and interesting of the species. But then there's the dark side: if you're friends with an Ange type (the deadly combo of beauty and brains), the curse can be all-consuming. Pretty can laud her privilege over her regular-looking friends – it's her pretty way or the highway. Not all pretty girls are mean, vain or shallow but the power dynamic between genetically gifted friends and those less so has inspired many Hollywood scripts.

Drama visited my circle of 'normal' buddies when I introduced a devastatingly hot new girl to the crew. We'd instantly bonded over hair issues, and her wit and charm encouraged me to take her back to the tribe. Unfortunately, she lost my friends at hello. Although we were in agreement she was a nice person (how date she!), my not-so-bad-looking buddies were of the opinion she was threateningly fine. Drama was averted when said hottie conveniently relocated.

Although Ange still elicits smidgeons of low self-esteem, the self-assured side of me knows one should never shy away from anything beautiful – girls, boys, careers, stuff. It used to be so easy for me to sprout negative dialogue, 'Look at her with pretty face, full lips, long eyelashes… I'll never be that stunning/curvy/well dressed.' I quit the self-defeating, jealousy-laced talk when I discovered how unattractive it is to reduce myself to a below-par being. I decided I'd befriend everyone – even the hot girl – or at least dish out the compliments.

Now when I meet someone hotter/smarter/more talented, I celebrate them in my words and actions. Perhaps I'll send that friend request to Ange after all.

Mon, 19 Mar 2012 12:00 +0200
With Love
• ON PLAYING HARD TO GET… My logic was that if he really wants me he'll sweat for me, and coyness is useful in separating the drive-by boys from the keepers. But saying no when I mean 'hell yeah!' actually came from a place of fear; fear that 'skank' would replace my first name. These days, when love comes knocking, I fling the door open without spending too long cautiously peeping through the curtain.

• ON BEING (TOO) INDEPENDENT… I pay my way. I plan a solo holiday without breaking a sweat. But always going 'halvies' on dinner and carrying the heaviest suitcase breeds an 'I'm watching SuperSport and greasing my hair the entire day' scrub. I've learnt there's no shame in sometimes letting him be the provider he so loves being.

• THAT LOVE HURTS… The mind is inclined towards recognising patterns (he's a no-show, he makes up for it with airtime; he's rude, he's nice later with mind-blowing sex) and then drawing conclusions. In this case: love is pain and pain is love. I've stopped singling along to sad love songs that cheer on suffering, and insist on being happy in love.

• THAT I'LL LEARN TO LOVE HIM… A euphemism for 'settling', this is the equivalent of buying okayish shoes, hoping you'll appreciate them at home. Either the pair is hot or not, and if not I don't buy them. I use this rule on men and have cut the deadbeats in my life to zero.

Whatever your do's and don'ts, wins and losses in love, remember there's no remedy for love but to love more.

Stylishly yours,

Sbu Mpungose

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 12:00 +0200
It's About You... Yes, You Time magazine, famous for picking the Person Of The Year – a powerful individual who influenced the world for better or worse. The usual suspects (the Steve Jobses, Barack Obamas and Oprahs of this world) didn't make the cover. Instead, the game-changer was an unassuming and long-overlooked individual. You. Yes, you.

'Me?' you might wonder, doing a mental audit of your achievements, which don't include fixing global warming, designing a poverty-free economic model or inventing high-heeled shoes with detachable soles. To answer your why-me question, the magazine recognised your contribution to YouTube, Facebook and countless other websites that feature user contributions. So, congratulations to You.

I was reminded of the power of You when I jetted off to New York to visit the headquarters of COSMO. I took care in packing my suitcase, got really good hair and even practised a few clever icebreaker lines in the mirror. After all, I thought, it was about me - me the editor, me and my work experience, me and my thoughts on publishing, me and my ideas. Me, mina, nna, ek.

Not so much. Large parts of the conversation with the big bosses were hijacked by You. They asked after You, were inspired by Your growth in a country that once didn't favour diversity or democracy, wanted to know more about where You were going, and what You were talking and dreaming about.

I was grateful for the refresher on who actually matters in this world. It's quite easy for people who have been given the honour to serve to think it's all about them. You've experienced it: the shop girl who tells you about her likes instead of assisting you, the public servant who's interested in going on a tea break and not in directing you to the appropriate office….

At COSMO, we - the team and myself - pledge to continue to put You first. It's not easy to please a woman who is smart, ambitious and generous, but we're up to the task of not disappointing. With You in mind, we have some tweaks coming. In the meantime, here's to the Year Of You – a year in which You are the main attraction, our rock star and number one.

Love You,

Sbu Mpungose

PS: Please tell me about your plans, dreams and anything that's on your mind in 2012 - e-mail

Mon, 16 Jan 2012 12:00 +0200
How To Say Goodbye?
But why would quitting this job be easy? Saying goodbye to things (and people) you love is never just a whistle, a head toss and a sashay out of the door.

I’ve always considered myself to have the loveliest job on the continent, and the reason I loved it so much was not for all the freebies, first-class travel and frisking with rock stars. (Every stray blogger and his dog get more swag than I do. Promise.) Editing this magazine has been wonderful for so many reasons but largely because of you, the
COSMO crew. I couldn’t have asked for a more delightful bunch with whom to spend so much time. I’ve loved – and been inspired by – your energy, your sense of fun, your passion, your bravery and your self-belief. You’re no-one’s fools. You’re fun-loving and fearless. There are one-million of you and you are a tribe to be reckoned with. A powerful army, for now and the future.

You are the magazine.

And so is the marvellous Sbu Mpungose, your new editor. Some of you might know her from True Love, where she did a superb job. Some of you will meet her for the first time next month. I am 100% COSMO confident that you’ll love each other. Sbu is as COSMO as you are. I, for one, think it’s a match made in heaven.

I’m not going far (turn left instead of right when you walk through the door on the fifth floor if you want to catch up) but it’s time for me to pack up my rotter ex-boyfriends, badly-behaved Labradors, long-suffering friends (how would you like to find your deepest secrets on page 6 of South Africa’s biggest young women’s magazine, month after month?) and move on to my next challenge.

Letting go will be hard. Dream jobs don’t come along that many times during a lifetime, but I’m ready to try something different. I’ll miss the incredible, professional teams of people who have contributed (and still do contribute) to the great success of this magazine over my 16 years in the editor’s seat. I’ll miss the amazing, incomparable platform it has been for my ideas, dreams, creativity and my unwavering belief that everyone should listen to what I think.

But … enough!

Thank you all for having joined me on this incredible journey. Thanks for the mammaries. (Good grief. How many Swimwear supplements have I pored over?) No. (Memo to self.) Really: enough.

I love you all.

Mon, 19 Dec 2011 12:00 +0200
Telling Tales
But having to dredge up a random cold-salmon lunch with a miserably unhappily married couple as the only thing that makes me 'unique'? That's not very interesting, is it? It's not as though I slept with Mick Jagger, for example. (On reflection, perhaps not sleeping with Mick does make me unique in my circle of girlfriends - at the time. It seems that, back then, everyone else had certainly been there and done that. Yuck. Just… yuck.)

Merely thinking about finding an answer to the 'unique' question made me sweat. It was hard to be amusing, self-deprecating and worth the attention of the readers for whom the answers were intended, so I didn't even try.  I answered, 'Not very much, actually,' and moved on to the next question: 'What was the best time in your life?' Oh dear. What is unique about this interviewer is that she asks the worst questions ever. ('Why, oh Queen Of All Editors, is COSMO South Africa such a brilliant magazine?' is, for any budding journalist's information, a much lovelier question. I'd have appreciated that one.)

I couldn't answer the 'best time of my life' question with 'I write in my gratitude journal every day, tralala' and speed on, so I wrinkled my brow and thought of my 20s. I thought of careering through the south of Spain in a convertible with a bunch of happy girlfriends, and of driving through an African war zone in a bikini with a not unhandsome game ranger I had accidentally acquired somewhere. I remembered thinking it was funny to drink lots of cheap champagne and leap into a vlei filled with hippos… and then run for my life. I remembered plunging out of planes, walking out of jobs, popping over to Paris for a dodgy party in a nightclub one Saturday afternoon…. I thought about the time my BFF and I asked each other, 'How bad could it be?' before agreeing to join a billionaire on his yacht in the Mediterranean. (The answer to that question, by the way, remains 'extremely bad'. Remember this when next you ask it of yourself.) I remembered getting arrested at some flea-and-mosquito-infested border somewhere and thinking that my situation was hilarious.

My 20s were certainly risky. I remembered madness, rushes and adrenaline. I thought of all the bad decisions and all the great moments. I thought of how, now, older and wiser, I would never do any of those things.

I was lucky. The worst did not happen. While I did get cerebral malaria and almost died - and probably never recovered the brains I was born with - I was not eaten by a hippo or attacked by a drunken Greek shipping tycoon. I did not cause a war or marry Prince Charles.

Just as our feature on page 94 says, the 20s are a risky decade. A life without risk is a very good idea when you have children depending on you for safety and happiness. Before that? Use your brains and be sensible, but use your 20s wisely. That means having some fun, taking some chances and accumulating some memories.

One day you too will be interviewed, even if only by your grandchildren. Make sure you have some tales to tell.

Mon, 21 Nov 2011 12:00 +0200
Mind Gym
So, meet Matthew: the one and only underwear model in my repertoire of exes. If a girl has to have an underwear-model boyfriend, Matthew wasn't a bad one to have. Imagine: a chiselled jaw, an appropriately bulging pair of underpants, a chiselled six-pack, twinkly smile, chiselled armpits, chiselled hair. You get the message? Chiselled… everything.

There was a problem, however. Of course there was. When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. That life lesson holds equally for boyfriends as for get-rich schemes, stay-young-forever products, and so on. But I digress. I know you expect me to say that he was the problem: that he spent too much time in the gym, that he was vain and vacant and never drank so as not to blur his definition. But in fact, I was the problem.

I am not a man. A man (no matter how unattractive), when faced with a slinky woman, has to be forcibly restrained. Thanks to evolution – and their mothers – most men believe that any lingerie model could be theirs, were they just to meet.

I, when faced with my own personal underwear toy, proved just how different woman are. In bed with Matthew I cringed at the thought of my flab-tastic thighs and tummy wobbling against the trampoline that was his torso. I woke myself up in the middle of the night as my arm, flung out in sleep, bounced off his six-pack like a rubber ball. I woke up the morning after our first night together with a tummy ache caused by the strain of holding my stomach in. All. Night. Long.

We did not last. I was insecure; he was baffled. Not a match made in the gym. But the truth is, I never gave him a chance. He never gave me any cause to worry about the discrepancy between our physiques. The discomfort was all in my mind. He was a nice person. We could have had more fun. But I was too busy worrying about my body.

There's a Zest in this issue – 31 days to a body you'll be comfortable to hit the beach in. Please read it with perspective. We don't want you to feel you have to be lingerie-perfect, just happy. The battle to feel that way does not take place in your body, in the gym or even in bed. It takes place in your mind.

Mon, 24 Oct 2011 12:00 +0200
Love a Little
Inside was my long-mourned, presumed-swiped collection of authentic amber and early-90s paste jewellery… as well as some rather sexier items: a Chanel handbag and cuff (precious!), an Azzedine Alaïa dress (relic) and, more precious still, love letters.

All those things are touchingly out of date, I hear you thinking. And you're right. Those letters were written to a much younger, dewier me - the me who wore that Azzedine Alaïa dress without a backward glance.

Upon opening this treasure-trove/time-capsule hybrid, I also felt sad when I realised that so many of you are unlikely to experience the delight of stumbling on such a precious cache of letters in your future.

E-mails, SMSs, BBMS and DMs don't last that well. They don't lie in waiting under dust in attics. Messages in the ether fade away and get lost in the past, just like some of the people who write them. And that is so sad.

Of course, in my case, my poor exes have not been allowed to fade into the shadows of my frisky youth. Their many failings have been thoroughly exhumed in this column. Exhaustively, I know.

Some of them were rogues and rascals, and didn't always behave according to The South African COSMO Handbook For Lovely Boyfriends, it must be said - but they could all write a cracking love letter.

I discovered funny postcards from film sets. Hilarious and rude (rather drunk?) X-rated blue airmail letters from late-night hotel rooms. Streams of consciousness from long-haul flights. Long, explanatory missives: 'It's not me, it's you...' Insightful ones: 'You have everything but confidence. I wish you knew yourself the way I know you.'

Heartbreakers: like the card that accompanied the beautiful black roses delivered to me the day before a much-loved ex married the woman he chose over me. 'I know I'm doing the right thing but a part of my heart will always be yours.' Small sob. Even now.

Those letters were tender, and mad and wonderful, and reading them made me feel like that girl I once was. The girl who never realised how lucky and deserving she was of all that love.

Love letters are magical when you receive them but they're even lovelier years later. This collection reminded me of who I was then - infuriating, self-obsessed, flighty and yet clearly a person who mattered to the people who mattered to me. My advice to you, in this non-Valentine's month? Get a pen and paper (I'm sure you can find some somewhere. Perhaps in a museum?) and write a letter to your love.

Ask him, after reading it, to put it somewhere safe but easily forgotten; a place where it stands a good chance of being discovered one day in the future, when he least expects it. Write from your heart. Maybe he'll be tempted to write one back to you. Here's hoping.

Tue, 13 Sep 2011 12:00 +0200
Pain By Numbers
For its next trick it has come up with a new form of torture: for the last five or six days I have hovered under a Twitter Follower Milestone. I have just under 3 500 followers.

Those followers have gone up (3 457! Hooray! Nearly there!) and come down (3 452 I'm obnoxious and irritating! The world is unfollowing me!) What those followers haven't done is cracked that magic 3 500 mark. This yo-yoing is not good for my concentration - or my self-esteem.

Usually, of course, I, like most of us, slip-slide along, not paying much attention to the imagined referendum on my obnoxiousness hidden in the number of bots and PR people who have decided to follow me. 2 233 vs 2 463 is no big deal, is it? But in the face of milestones… 1 000? 1 500? Maybe even 150 000 if you're @GarethCliff...?

Suddenly, 3 500 feels important. I find myself checking the number - casually, when I hope no-one is looking - to see whether it has crept up. But the crazy up-and-down continues, and suddenly I'm awash with paranoia and self-doubt. Were my last tweets even more irritating than usual? Am I too boring? Do I tweet too much? The answer to all those questions could be a resounding 'yes'… but being all those things has not stopped me accumulating 3 457 followers.

I am who I am.

And if I am all of those things, I am no more or less those things than l was when I cracked 3 000, for example. And that was a moment when Twitter made me feel Queen of the World.

Milestones are dreadful things. We can all let 31 December, if we choose, become a referendum on our fabulousness. (How come we are not on that yacht moored on Clifton 4th?) A 30th birthday can become a Sword of Damocles hovering overhead. ('Why havent I got the man, the baby, the great job? I'm over the hill.') A 40th birthday can become the end of life, if that life hasn't turned out exactly as you expected it would.

I know the feeling of allowing numbers to rule my life. I've been on many diets, after all. I know those days when the number on the scale somehow held the power to ensure a happy or self-hating start to the morning. But one thing I know now is that no number should have this power. They're just numbers, after all.

Investing meaning in these milestones is taking something from ourselves. I think. It's about hooking our sense of wellbeing to a validation from outside. If you're not on the yacht but with family and friends gathered around a very ordinary braai on New Year's Eve, does that mean your life is a failure? If you do have a terrible New Year's Eve, when you do end up alone or surrounded by strangers, does that make your whole life worthless?

We all have bad days. And some of those days may fall on 31 December. There's always tomorrow... And there's Twitter tomorrow as well.

Mon, 22 Aug 2011 12:00 +0200
Men... Honestly! sensitive little female ears required! lt's important, I think, to listen to what the other half thinks. Even when what they have to say is not perhaps what you, or I, would like to hear.

The truth is, what I would like to hear from my man (The Guru On The Sofa) is the following: 'No, you do not need to lose weight', 'Yes, you were incredibly witty and not at all drunk and obnoxious at dinner last night', 'Yes, darling, you are right and pretty much everyone else is wrong' and 'Of course, go ahead, have another helping of roast potatoes. They mean you no harm.' All of this is, of course, very, very nice. But, like a second helping of chocolate mousse, it isn't very good for you.

I think it's always important to listen carefully to people with whom you disagree, and while I do not disagree with every man I know, hearing what they have to say sometimes stings. For that very reason I'd like Matt and Sipho to be honest about what they feel and think.

The Guru says that what he thinks women (I think he means me, mostly) want to hear is 'there, there', 'tut-tut' or 'tsk, tsk', and not anything approaching constructive criticism or advice, even if we've solicited it. And he might have a point. There's a significant difference between comfort and help. Sometimes, receiving help requires just a little more irom the person needing it than wallowing in the cosy shallows of comfort.

Summoning bravery, good humour and an open mind is a good place to start when facing any challenge. And, as we all know, men can be very challenging….

There are the healthy challenges of conflict, of course. And, indeed, why should two people see things in the same way? (That's why we've asked two men to take up our challenge.) But there's also the ornery - and who wants to give airtime to bullies, thugs or trolls? A spoonful of sugar (or at least a sprinkling of GSOH) does help the medicine go down....

Sometimes, of course, tales from the other side area not adversarial or tough to digest. Sometimes they're just fascinating, funny and insightful - like an entertaining hour spent watching Nat Geo Wild. We're looking forward to those moments with Matt and Sipho, too.

But after you've had your fill of what the men think, there's much more, as always, to entertain, inform and delight you. We're COSMO, after all. This month sees our first hair guide (page 121) for all the sisters with ethnic hair; just for starters. July also sees our third annual Techno Queen supplement and, as usual, there's all the fashion, beauty, psyche, relationship and health stuff your boyfriend really doesn't want to discuss with you.

Men. You can't live without them - you just have to try to understand them. You could do worse than start on page 52.

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 12:00 +0200
Shabby Chick Marie Claire), Naomi (the editor of House And Leisure) and I had lunch recently. They were both, as usual, effortlessly gorgeous, fashionable and stylish. I, on the other hand, was the opposite. My US$45 Zara pants were unflattering and my top, which I had thought 'would do' when I snatched it out of my wardrobe that morning, suddenly looked more Miami Granny than up-to-the-second Urban Editrix.

I had no casually perfect accessories to 'finish off my look' and realised, as we entered the cool and fashionable restaurant, that I had only intended to brush my hair that morning. I hadn't actually got around to doing it.

As we finished our food and both of them whipped out their YSL-or-Dior-or-something-else-perfect lipsticks to reapply their flawless lip looks, I remembered that I hadn't actually applied any makeup for, oh, about six months. I was, I realised, a fashion 'don't'. Surrounded by 'do's'. For that reason only, I was delighted that Sam (the editor of O, The Oprah Magazine, always sleek and immaculate) was on holiday and unable to join us. Two fashion plates at lunch were enough for one shabby me.

By the time we all cleared our plates of the fashionable food, I was in a foul fashion-fail-induced mood. My Twitter feed offered no consolation. UK Elle's editor, @LorraineELLE, was tweeting endless descriptions of the couture she 'grabs' from her closet when rushing off to Paris or Milan. @janeGRAZIA was worried about what to wear for a lunch date with Victoria Beckham. @jo_elvin, the editor of UK Glamour, tweeted 'I am head to toe in "street" today. @MarkHeyes will be so proud.' I, of course, have no idea who @MarkHeyes is (I should know, I'm sure) and consider last year's British 'street' my very best, most expensive (and chic) outfits.

Sigh. I am a chick who buys her clothes, at a sprint, on her way to her supermarket dash. And while that means I am usually at least dressed, I cannot say I am ever well dressed. And I would quite like to be well dressed.
It's not necessarily that I want to be one of those women who just 'get' it, or who have enough money and connections to buy what they don't 'get'. I just don't want to feel as though I'm the Miami Granny at the table.

I could tell you that, after that lunch, I gave myself a little pep talk and told myself that clothes don't matter, that what's inside is all that counts. But of course I can't, and didn't, because it does matter.

As women, the way we present ourselves is a complicated and important component of our sense of wellbeing. And, of course, it isn't that every one of us suddenly has to look as marvellous as Aspasia and Naomi. What is important is that we like the way we look.

Women24's @SamWilson1, for example (bless her Converse All Stars), welcomes the changing of the fashion seasons by swapping her flip-flops for… Converse All Stars, and genuinely doesn't, I think, give her clothes another thought. Hurrah for her!

I'm a different creature altogether. I, like many of us, do feel better when I'm in something new and pretty that I like and that flatters me. It's just that I like art, reading books, cooking, drinking wine, hanging out with my friends and walking up the mountain very much more.

All of this leads me to think about balance, which, as I grow older, seems to me to be an increasingly important life secret. The truth is, if being quite as un-groomed as I was on that fashion-fail day interferes with what I really love doing (eating a happy lunch with two great girlfriends) then I can surely find a little more time to, at least, try to be a little better dressed.

I can do better!

Tomorrow, I vow to brush my hair.
Fri, 17 Jun 2011 12:00 +0200
Crazy Girlfriend Praying Mantis you once were, or currently are, one of this species of insecure, mad women. It’s all right. Confess! You’re among friends here in COSMO Land. Hell, I can’t be the only one who has stooped to the depths described by the scarily accurate Psycho Killer GPM (Girlfriend Praying Mantis) meme.

To explain: a GPM is the kind of girlfriend who has perpetrated any of these felonies (described in pure meme language, of course) against a man: ‘Going to sleep early today, huh? Calls to check if your phone is busy at random hours at night’. And ‘Left you a message. About my other messages,’ and, my personal favourite: ‘I was looking through your texts earlier. Who’s Mom?’

Amour fou? Or just a Crazy Girlfriend Praying Mantis?

My own personal lowest moment of ‘love-induced’ dementia was one of the above: I repeatedly phoned an ominously empty flat throughout the night to convince myself that the object of my ‘love’ was out, up to no good (bouncing up and down in bed with the air hostess of my insecure imaginings), and was not tucked up in his bed, reading his novel, as he had promised he would be. I needed 55 phone calls to prove that he was not my Prince Charming. What was I - temporarily obsessive compulsive?
No. I was just a Crazy Girlfriend Praying Mantis.

I have GPM pals who have done much worse than I have. One once got on a plane to ‘surprise’ a man on a week’s holiday with his friends. Oh how he, she and his other girlfriend laughed when she pitched up at the hotel. And then, the scariest of them all: one friend, in a fit of complete and utter Mantis Madness, hid in the built-in cupboard of a man she had dated only four or five times, to ‘catch him in the act of sleeping with someone else’. He came home near midnight, with someone, of course. My pal’s punishment? She had to stay in that cupboard, contorted and weeping and cringing silently, hearing every grunt, squelch and yelp of their epic shagathon. She could only creep out of her cupboard hideaway when the two lovers finally sank into post-coital slumber. Then she slunk off into the dawn, hobbling past their sprawled and happily snoring, naked forms.

What a result: humiliation! Shame! A broken heart and very sore legs. Ouch. The older, wiser me thinks she deserved all she got, actually.

None of this insanity is okay. We’ve all done it but that doesn’t make it right. (Our youthful exploits are all good for war stories/editor’s letters in years to come, of course, but the behaviour is never right.)

Here’s what I think the Crazy Girlfriend Praying Mantis meme can teach us: I've often said that everything worth having in life is hard to achieve. Well, there’s one exception: love in its early stages should not be.

Should you find yourself either insecure and unhappy, or insecure and weirdly Mantis Mad, then he’s not the man for you. Let’s face it. You may not be the girl for anyone, until you’ve sorted yourself out.

Fri, 20 May 2011 12:00 +0200
Tales of a COSMO Princess
And just before Valentine's Day this year, her latest Frogsnake slithered off into the sunset. Oh dear. That was not the result she or I (her COSMOGodFairy) had in mind.

This lack of lasting romantic success is not due to any shortage of optimism, hopefulness or gung-ho spirit on her part. She has followed her COSMOGodFairy's advice, one could say, almost to the letter. And it has still not delivered her her Holy
Grail: a decent man. Only the lying, two timing, semi-detached, dysfunctional, feckless wrenches she has now unfriended on Facebook.

Even the most buoyant of princesses can occasionally lose their mojo (aka The Will To Date). 'I am not a bloody boxer. I don't want any more bruises, black eyes and bloody noses,' she tells me, fire coming out of her nose and ears. (Her injuries are of the emotional, not physical, variety, but are no less painful.)

'I am getting a cat. I am going on a man-fast. Do you know any nice book clubs I could join?' For someone like me, who prides herself on her advice on the subject of men, relationships and sex, and doesn't really have much expertise in cats and book clubs, this is a dark moment. Is it time for me to have a crisis of confidence and humility and for her to change? Is it time for her to trade in both the person she asks for advice and her modus operandi?

Time to think.

But, being naturally buoyant, optimistic and energetic myself*, I decide it is not time to retire myself. And certainly not time for her to give up either.

Here's the thing: this search for love is not easy. That's all there is to it. Anything that matters takes hard work. Sometimes the hardest work of all starts with yourself. (Why am I choosing these guys? What can I do to change my selection process? Where am I going wrong?) Sometimes the hard work is the amount of bravery it takes to gather yourself and get back in the ring, as it were, after you've been figuratively bashed around a bit.

Sometimes the hard work is the energy it takes to keep on slugging when you've convinced yourself that there is no Holy Grail, and Plan B (what a great name for a cat!) seems much simpler, easier and altogether lovelier.

But that, of course, is a cop-out. That is the stuff of bitter old ladies who have given up on love and feel the world has done them a disservice. Here's a secret: all the world's prizes (and yes, there are certainly more prize men than there are princes) come to those women who keep on walking. The women who wear their bruises of experience with pride (not shame) and who don't let a mere Frogsnake or two stand in their way.

Go on, all you princesses – get out there. Keep going. Keep looking. The search for love is an honourable one. And you can always get Plan B, the cat, later on.

*Hey sometimes. Not always. No-one is perfect - not even COSMO princesses.

Fri, 08 Apr 2011 12:00 +0200
The Other Man
Let's call him Man B because, if my life were a romcom (and not the sitcom it has turned out to be) Man B would be a cute name for a male lead, don't you think?

On paper and in life Man B is funny and educated, and handsome in a smartarse kind of way. He remains just on the right side of chippy and, even though he was born slap-bang into the bull's-eye of the European establishment, he maintains an outsider's disrespect for pretty much everything he comes across. He was (and is) cool. Back then he was just my type. And, if you can ever be certain of these girl-boy things, it seemed I was his type back then, too.

But yet 'it' never ignited. Perhaps the timing was off. Perhaps the chemistry just wasn't there. In the end we turned, I think, into one of each other's roads not taken. He took one path and I took another.

And with regards to the road I took, I have been rather delighted with my life. I love my family and my work, adore Cape Town, believe in South Africa, travel enough and (give or take the unhappy results of a chocolate cheesecake or 50) I'm content with the body that carries me through each day. I have even, it seems, grown out of my obsession with overpriced handbags. It's all turned out well.

His path was rather different from mine. His took him to an Oscar, life in the Hollywood Hills and screeeeeeeech! (honestly, really screech - you should have heard me when our mutual friend alerted me to that development) a life with one of the TV actresses that I actually have rather a crush on myself. And while our friend told me about their shiny life I wondered, just for a second, what life would have been like had I said 'yes!' instead of 'don't be ridiculous' that night I hopped into a London cab and sped home instead of er, hopping onto him...'

What would life have been like had one thing led to another, and had I landed up the Oscar-winner's wife? For just a second, I swear, I saw cartoon designer dresses, private jets and seven-star resorts tweeting around my head in the style of birdies in a '70s Betty And Veronica comic.

Oh good grief.

I'm sure that many of you also have your own 'what-ifs'. It's tempting to dream occasionally of an alternative life, to fantasise of what could have been had you just taken The Other Option. Listen. Here's what I've learnt about that magical thinking:
1) In life, there are no only 'good' or 'bad' outcomes. If you make your decisions for good reasons (such as bravery creativity heart, soul and faith), life will reward you in its customary way: with a mixture of good and bad. Happiness and tragedy. Success and failure. Enough of the bad to make you grateful for the good. And 2) I would not be happy in Hollywood wearing Spanx on a daily basis.

Yes. That's all. It's really as simple as that.

* You know what? Even writing that, after all these years, just sounds wrong. It was the wrong road. I made the right choice.

Wed, 16 Mar 2011 12:00 +0200
That Loving Feeling amour fou because anything planned for this particular issue must be executed in the dog days of December: the last few working weeks and weekends of the year when we could have been kicking back. Crazy love indeed.

But here it is, the revamped vamp. What you're holding is not the result of a face-lift (forgive us, but we thought we were pretty hot just as we were) – it's a bright, feminine new look with some new ideas. New clothes for a newish year. We have, over the past year, been implementing some changes as we've gone along, and you've already let us know how much you love some of them. Most particularly, thank you for embracing our decision to include a more representative spread of models in our fashion pages. For the longest time we've celebrated all shapes and healthy sizes throughout the magazine, but we felt that something was lacking in our approach to our high-fashion pages. We believe that being considered the most beautiful is not the preserve of only the skinniest among us, so it became clear that it was time to put our money where our mouth is. It's important for us not to restrict the more statuesque beauties among us to the ghettos of 'plus-size' special sections, but to send out a loud and confident COSMO message of celebrating all forms of natural beauty.

Along the same lines, in August last year we changed our 'Body & soul' section into 'Body love', and have also been attempting to show a more accessible and real version of wonderful, gorgeous you throughout the magazine: a diversity of well-loved and respected beautiful bodies, not an army of clones.

While we were doing all that, our attention wandered to our pages. We felt the need for prettiness, generosity and a bit of love; for more white space and cute new design elements to add a spring to our step. Please let us know what you think of the changes, and expect more tweaks, innovations, pages and ideas throughout the first part of the year.

Oh. And Valentine's Day wouldn't be Valentine's Day without some men, now would it? So in this issue, we threw the pages of the magazine open to some of SA's best men's model agencies and told them to show us what they're made of. The result? Not so very ugly either.

Love is not just Valentine's cards and overpriced restaurant dinners. Good, healthy love is only possible if you love yourself – in a real, healthy way. (Go to page 76 for a very COSMO take on that thought.) Spread the love to the gal in the mirror and feel our love back to you.

Wed, 16 Feb 2011 12:00 +0200
Live In The Moment How could last year have evaporated so fast? What happened to 2010, South Africa's second-biggest year ever? It sped by, of course, as time always does when 1) you've got something excellent to look forward to and enjoy, and 2) when you're busy having fun. All those timeless clichés. But there are some newish reasons as well. The abundance of new toys and technology is a convenient whipping boy of our times. Stand up MXit, Facebook, Twitter and the rest!

There's something about having instant access 24/7 (does anyone know how many seconds there are in a day? 24/7 seems too laid-back for 2011) to everyone else's thoughts, opinions, news and actions, that can make a chick's head spin on her neck.

Got a problem? There's an app for that. TweetDeck occasionally sends me a thoughtful little message: 'Things moving too fast? Click here for help.' I've never actually clicked for help, but every time that message flashes up on my screen, I wonder: exactly what kind of help could Twitter offer me? I'd love to be assisted with an extra six hours in the day, or with being able to freeze that fabulous moment when the sun goes down, when I am drinking a crisp glass of wine on the Camps Bay beachfront. Can anyone do that?

I wonder, too, who Twitter would send in to the rescue? Late last year COSMO's Tweet team threw the question, 'Who's your Twitter crush?' out into the Twitterverse. We were flooded with enthusiastic responses and votes. There is a whole host of celebrities who have made Twitter their playground and this month (on the button as always) we are proud to introduce you to our first 'kings of Twitter' feature. 'The Twitter kings' are a new kind of 'crush', where humour, insight, knowledge and the ability to get a message across in a time-kind 140 characters count for more than muscle and brawn.

Of course, the real joy of life in 2011 is that you can have it all. And the COSMO team remains particularly dedicated to giving you as much of everything you love as possible. So if, for example, with relation to crushes, your tastes veer more towards the beefcake, the strong and perhaps less mouthy type of guy, enjoy our annual Sexiest SA Men Calendar. It's a little different this year. Tweet your thoughts to us @CosmopolitanSA.

Some things will always remain the same. At COSMO we will always find the time to enjoy an e-mail or consider opinions and feedback from you, our fabulous readers. The magazine will always be best read with your cellphone switched to silent, and COSMO will always be at your side to give you tools, tips and inspiration to deal with whatever challenges come your way.

Have a very happy holiday, Team COSMO! Remember, cellphones on silent, guys. Lovely cool glass of something delicious at your side? COSMO in hand? Sun high in the sky? Sea twinkling? Live in the moment. Enjoy.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 12:00 +0200
Once In A Lifetime
'Eeuw. How could you?’ I ranted. 'It's an embarrassment! Cringe! Cringe!'

As unfazed by my histrionics as he was when we were kids, he replied, 'You'll grow to love it.’

He was right.

Peter is the drummer of Freshlyground and I was bitching about Waka Waka (This Time For Africa), the official song of the 2010 World Cup, featuring Shakira and, of course, Freshlyground.

I always love hearing Zolani Mahola's instantly recognisable voice and now, with the glow of June/July in my rear-view mirror, I really enjoy the warm wave of nostalgia and pride I feel every time I hear it. Whether you adore it or merely tolerate it, Waka Waka deserves its place on SA's 2010 playlist.

What a year for Freshlyground, what a year for South African music, what a year for South Africa. Once in a lifetime, guys.

It made it very easy to plan the content of this December issue. In many ways the magazine created itself: COSMO Rocks, guest-edited by the wonderful Zolani herself and featuring those shy and retiring little flowers, Die Antwoord, the delightful Locnville en route to their Big Break in the US, the cool JR, the funny and original Jack Parow… all doing their not unimpressive things.

We were spoilt for choice. But great as COSMO Rocks is, it's only a part of the generous bounty that is COSMO this month. You want inspiration? Check out our roll call of Fun, Fearless Females. You want sinners and winners? We got down and just a little bit dirty, too. Plus Rihanna and Gaga, and statuesque models who are finally getting the recognition they deserve. And, of course, seven signs he's amazing in bed. (Oh c’mon, we're COSMO, we have to throw in some sex - you would miss it if we didn't.)

We have so much to celebrate and there's no better time than December to toot our own vuvuzelas. Be loudly, proudly South African this party season. Dance to Waka Waka or Evil Boy if you want to - we all deserve our 'Once ln A Lifetime' summer....

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 12:00 +0200
One In a Million hope you think they're entertaining. Stick with me - this will begin to make sense soon....)

You would be correct in all but the last assumption because, as anyone who reads my blog, HurricaneVanessa, will know, my unadorned, unedited, off-the-cuff writing 'style' is (oh dear, how do I say this without outing myself as totally inadequate, never mind a fraud...?) just a little rougher around the edges than my smoother, more fluent COSMO style.

So. A confession. Behind every editor who looks as though she knows what she is doing (oh, okay, behind, er, me) there is a true editor making her (me) look very much better, smarter, more thoughtful and fluent than she really is. And for my 15 years at COSMO I've been privileged that that editor has been one of the greatest quiet heroines of women's magazines in South Africa - the wonderful Ms Loesje Boyle. Our beloved and respected deputy editor has, for the 19 years she has worked at COSMO, polishing, moderating and tidying up the magazine's content, been one of the major reasons this magazine has been the quality product it is. She has been the team's voice of reason, fairness and integrity. She has been the intelligent hand that has steered every decision we have made and the person I have turned to when I doubted myself. In 15 years (longer than many people's marriages) the two of us have had not one skirmish that I can remember - testament, of course, to Loesje's dignity and calm rather than any virtue of mine. But now she has decided to take some time out for herself and her family. Time to walk on the beach and to grow lavender. And while I am a bit nervous for myself and the rest of the staff (who will have to cope with me without her gentle, strong and steadying presence), I am very happy for her.

If anyone deserves time to smell the lavender, it's Loesje. She deserves time to apply herself to her passions and to the things that matter to her. Her decision is exactly what all of us would expect from her. She has always known what is right and has known what it takes to do it. While I sniff noisily into my sleeve, I know all of you will join the rest of the team, not to mention the hundreds of journalists who have benefited from her unequalled mentoring and encouragement over the years, in saying a very heartfelt and genuine thank you to a real One in a Million.

Fri, 19 Nov 2010 12:00 +0200
Lioness Under Pressure
Not Playboy bunnies, who are minxes and totally irrelevant in this instance. I’m thinking about the sweet, gentle, easily startled kind of woman who is adorable, warm and fuzzy, sensitive and known to become paralysed in headlights. The kind of woman who, in her weaker moments, feels trodden upon, hurt, invisible and ignored.

I’m not talking about real, carnivorous lionesses on the veld either, but the women among us who resemble them.

It’s hard to see how the two could ever get along.

Take me, for example: I am a lioness, no doubt. My good characteristics include a highly developed sense of duty, a strong work ethic, a sense of sisterly team spirit and a tolerance for other people’s children.

My bad characteristics? I can be overly focused on the task at hand, become overloaded and then resentful of the demands placed on me by others and, when cornered, I bare my claws and fangs, turning quite terrifying in a fight.

Bunnies? Their excellent characteristics include their warmth, gentle natures, industriousness and always being willing to tackle the job at hand. Okay, so the animal variety has only two jobs at hand: shagging and eating green stuff – but you have to agree that they excel at both!

Put a bunny in a tough situation, however, and her instinct will be to scarper - or freeze, looking bewildered. Bunnies, a lioness could say with some justification, are too easily spooked. They’re too ready to flee, too scared of life’s challenges. Put a bunny in a fight and she’ll quiver. Observe a lioness in a fight, on the other hand, and you will see fur fly.

Of course, when everything is going well, a lioness can bask in the unthreatening, serene and sweet company of a bunny. And a bunny can admire and enjoy a lioness’s wild energy and strength. But life is not all hop-piness and contented purring. Human beings are messy and imperfect, pressurised and fallible. The test of friendship in the human jungle comes when things do not go right.

As women, of course, we all hope to get along. As a lioness (part of a tight collective of females who need each other for survival) or bunnies (living in a warren, surrounded by our sisters and millions of mothers–in-law), we know this to be desirable. Without wanting to sound too cute, that involves all of us finding a way to value and understand each other’s differences. Lionesses with lionesses, bunnies with bunnies, and lionesses with bunnies too. It takes work. But I’ve never met a lioness that couldn’t benefit from retracting her claws, nor a bunny that wouldn’t benefit from being brave. We can learn from each other. In fact tonight, after I’ve gone out and killed dinner, I’m going to try to be soft and gentle to someone who needs it. What about you?

Wed, 20 Oct 2010 12:00 +0200
Breach For The Stars that FIFA!)? Elated, because we as a nation had confounded expectations and pulled off a party better than anyone had imagined we could? Or crushed, because it was all over and you could just feel reality lurking in the long grass, waiting to hijack you at your gate?

I’m betting on a mixture of the two.

After all, as our adorable cover star Katy Perry once sang (quite possibly commenting on South Africa for all we know): ‘You’re hot and you’re cold, you’re yes and you’re no, you’re in and you’re out, you’re up and you’re down.’ In short, we are, ahem, a little bi-polar as a nation.

We have proven ourselves capable of pulling off more miracles than pretty much any other place on earth yet, at the same time, our darker sides are as black as a starless night in the bush. We’re not good or bad, but a bittersweet mixture of the two.
As if to prove this, in the days after The Best World Cup Ever, news reports returned to our usual suspects (crime, corruption) and the national team that plays The Other More Boring Sport lost decisively to our archenemy. I, a committed fan of Team ESP and enthusiastic watcher of 62 1/2 Best World Cup Ever games, crawled into work with my lower lip dragging on the ground.

And then amazing things started to happen…. Journalists who’d returned to their posts all over the world wrote positive reports (some positively gushing) about their stay within our borders. (They even loved Jozi – appreciation where it’s due!) Then Jordy Smith happened. And Louis Oosthuizen happened. The government scrapped OBE and offered more help to people with HIV. Mandela Day came and the whole world seemed to adopt its fabulous principle of devoting 67 minutes to giving back. Yo-Landi Vi$$er of Die Antwoord said no to this year’s most hotly contested young female role (that of Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), Marijke le Roux appeared on the cover of Turkish Vogue, the Candices, Behatis, Heidis, Dominiques and Genevieves et al all powered ahead doing what models do. And then a southern right whale leapt into the air (opposite the Newport Deli in Cape Town, i.e. just down the road) and made news, a meme and people gasp all over the world. Again, we had hogged more than our share of the news. (Not bad for a complicated and occasionally bad-tempered little country in the cul-de-sac of Africa.)

Maybe we can best be described as a nation that punches above its weight. We make a bigger noise on the world stage (with or without vuvuzelas) than we ought. And that is a pretty powerful national characteristic. (When last did anyone from Canada do anything interesting? Just saying.)

So here’s my COSMO tip for the month. Take ownership of our national characteristic. Breach for the stars! Don’t believe that just because you are ‘only you’ you can ‘only’ do what people expect of you. That is the certain path to … oh, I guess Canada. Or New Zealand.

If you are here, you have the guts to be here. And if you have balls, you can attempt something spectacular. And if you do, chances are you’ll achieve something magical.

Wed, 15 Sep 2010 12:00 +0200
Tout Tweet
For the gregarious? Launching yourself into Twitter World is like being at a cocktail party or busy pub among people who seem interesting, entertaining, funny or warm and fuzzy, listening in on their lively conversations and joining in, or not, as it suits you.

For the curious? You can be directed to information on subjects that interest you – whatever pops your particular cork! - that you would never have discovered any other way. Build yourself a list of tweeps to follow who fascinate, amuse and inform you – it’ll keep you up to date, affirmed and enlightened. Think of Twitter as your own personal news, comedy and drama channel. 24/7.

For the outspoken? Twitter gives you a platform to express yourself - your opinions, emotions and discoveries.

So come on in! Get following and be followed, right now. I’m not hinting or fishing or anything … oh, hell, actually I am but we’re among friends, aren’t we? Here’s your starter list: @cosmopolitanSA, @COSMOcathy, @MeganKakora, @LindaMali, @zamankosi and, naturally, er, me - @hurricanevaness.

Anyone who fits the criteria I listed earlier will love the experience. ‘Ah,’ I hear you say. ‘I read those criteria…. Why do I have to be a rhino?’

Here’s why. As in most social interactions, tweeting requires a thickish skin. It’s like going to any party – it can be exhilirating and good fun but also humbling, all at once. I should know.

You can un-follow people who bore or irritate you, but so - brace yourself - can everyone else in return. And the experience of watching your list of followers shrink is as humbling as watching it grow is affirming.

What if you tweet before you think? You can change a tweet if you have second thoughts – but only until someone else re-tweets it.

After that, your thoughts - LOL hilarious, insightful and original, in your mind at least – are out there, committed to the world in 140 characters for all to appreciate. Or (shiver) not.

It’s encouraging when you’re joined by lovely followers; punishing when followers desert you in great numbers, letting you know just how un-hilarious, uninsightful and unoriginal you are.

Here’s a confession: I sometimes gain more followers when I’m a mouse, decorously saying nothing much, than when I’m being my fall-off-my-own-chair-laughing-at-how-funny-I-think-I-am self. I know, I know … there’s a big lesson to be learnt from this.

And when I’ve had a glass or three of wine, or when I’m on one of my mouthy, venting rolls? Then the results are unpredictable.

You see? You do need to be a rhino. But c’mon! Most of us could do with some toughening up. And if you never want to be bored, embarrassed, irritated or dumped for a more interesting option, you can always read a book. These are just some of the reasons I will never give up books. But if you want all the good things I’ve listed above, tweet. At its best, it’s all about gathering and sharing information. And that is never a bad thing.

Wed, 08 Sep 2010 12:00 +0200
Funny Side Up
By dessert, naked artworks have been admired, tales of dancing girls on tables in Zimbabwe and family quarrels have been recounted and poetry has been recited. We’ve all eaten, laughed and drunk way too much.

Then the finale: the Von Arnims’ infamous party trick. Both father and son can deftly circumcise a Pierre Jourdan bottle, separating cork from neck in one elegant slice. With a sabre. No matter how plastered they are.

Grateful to be able to leave with body parts intact, we all part the best of friends, but not before Von Arnim Jr informs me how pleasantly surprised he was to have enjoyed our company at all. He didn’t expect to have much in common with any of us, he says, and was fearing a dismal and boring lunch. Ouch! Someone we didn’t know assumed he wouldn’t like us? Or yay! When he met us he decided he did? How does a girl take this kind of backhanded compliment?

Well, in my opinion good food and wine exist to bring people with little in common together in a spirit of jollity and bonhomie. So, I decide to take the comment as I always do, with a sense of humour. A girl can’t go through life with an intravenous drip of Haute Cabrière attached to her arm to anaesthetise her against the slings and arrows of a world where not everyone thinks she’s marvellous.

A couple of weeks ago I experienced the joy of being attacked online after writing an opinion piece in a newspaper, many of whose readers do not really
appear to love this magazine. The experience reminded me that, no matter what you read in fashion magazines, your only must-have item is a very thick skin. If you create something that some people love, it goes without saying that other people won’t. Attempting never to offend, or always to please everyone, is the route to true insanity and misery. But you might be called on, occasionally, to stand up and defend what you stand for.

There is nothing like getting up close and personal with someone or something that you assume you won’t enjoy, to discover how you truly feel about them. I am clear that COSMO is not for everyone and am happy with that. It has always been 100% for its readers, which leaves very little space on our radar for attempting to please its detractors. Our job is not to convince people who don’t get it, to get it. But you know, if someone had told me I would have really enjoyed the company of two sword-wielding, pole-dance-picture-taking, 11.30am-drinking eccentrics, I might have thought, as Takuan von Arnim initially thought about me, ‘Perhaps not.’ On the surface we don’t have much in common, and if I had decided to be judgmental and he had decided not to be open-minded we might indeed have had a miserable lunch. Instead, everyone had fun.

So here’s to open minds and open hearts; to the desire of very different people to find common ground. Here’s to the very South African spirit of making friends by clinking glasses filled with a beautiful Cape wine.

Here’s to all of you who remind me every day why we dedicate our working days to making this magazine. And here’s a personal, heartfelt thank you that the Von Arnims - and not those angry COSMO-haters - were brandishing the swords....

Wed, 28 Jul 2010 12:00 +0200
Bafana Republic
The super-respected model manager Marlon (another South African gone stellar) once told me that the reason for Candice’s huge success was not only her jaw-dropping good looks but also her very good manners and sweet nature. Even more reasons to be proud.

Years and years ago, one of our then fashion editors shot her for a COSMO cover. I, displaying my customary cluelessness with regard to all things fashion, proclaimed that she had ‘funny eyebrows’ and spiked it. I have not, it transpires, got infallible judgment.

I also decided years ago that COSMO’s very brilliant assistant editor Cathy Lund was ‘not the right person for the job’. She was only snatched from The Sunday Times because our then deputy editor saw her value and talent, ignored my opinion and hired her. I have loved being proved completely wrong in my initial assessment of Cathy since the second time she walked through the door.

So what can I say I’ve learnt from my missteps and misjudgments? A few things:
1) It isn’t necessarily a disaster if you make a few errors of judgment along the way. No-one is always right.
2) Life can be generous and might give you a second chance to correct some of the mistakes you make. (Sometimes you will have to trust someone else’s judgment over your own.)
3) And, sometimes, timing is all. There couldn’t be a better month to run Candice Swanepoel’s first COSMO cover. It is a unique moment for all of us – a month in which we are duty bound to have the time of our lives! It is a rare gift to be offered such an opportunity, and perfectly timed for most of you, the COSMO crew who are living one of life’s most precious periods – your fun, fearless 20s.

So, no bitching and moaning. No negative anything. You have the opportunity for the party of a lifetime, right here, in our cities, on our doorstep.

The Sokker Wêreldbeker (I’m not sure what I am allowed to call it without FIFA chopping off my head) is here – the time has come for us all to get into our Bafana Bafana colours, paint our faces and blow those vuvuzelas. (Look how cool Candice looks decked out in SA’s colours - you could join her!) We have so much to celebrate about our beloved, badly behaved home, which remains beautiful, hopeful and able to pull off miracles.

Your task for June? Drink it in, party like it’s 2010 and share a little love with the world. Although not, of course, the traditional COSMO-type love. Save that for the bedroom with a loved one. To that end, we’ve included some sokker-inspired sex positions. We can’t help it, we’re proudly COSMO to the core!
Mon, 21 Jun 2010 12:00 +0200
16 COSMOtastic Facts From Delhi
1. The tribal dress of the international COSMO editor is a killer blow-dry, excellent lipstick and heels at least 10cm high. (Fact.)
2. If COSMO readers formed a country, it would be the sixth biggest in the world.
3. UK COSMO’s most successful recent cover line was: ‘How to hide hangover skin.’
4. The UK’s favourite cover girl ever was Cameron Diaz. The question that Louise is wrestling with? Who is the new Cameron D?
5. Kate, the editor of US COSMO, is taking her edition in a ‘more edgy, more rock chick’ direction.
6. COSMO Netherlands editor Claudia says that sex doesn’t sell that much over there. What sells? ‘You, you, you!’
7. One in every 12 lipstick applications in the UK is applied by a COSMO reader.
8. In the Phillipines, readers want to be ‘fashyon’ (which seems to mean – translated loosely - fun, fearless, fashionable).
9. COSMO Malaysia’s editor, Izza, can’t show images with cleavage in the magazine (she retouches it out). Or armpits. Or shoulders.
10. Payal, the editor of COSMO in India, has to give sex tips to readers who cannot have sex ... anywhere. They live with their families. He lives with his.
11. Lala, editor of Spanish COSMO, has the longest legs, the highest heels and the shortest skirts. And she is super bright - COSMO to the core.
12. In US COSMO, any piece on gynaecology gets an 80%-plus approval rating, according to their research.
13. Bronwyn, the editor of COSMO Australia, is the authority on body love. (Not just the sexy kind, ‘the healthy body, happy mind’ kind.)
14. Violeta (love that name) says our covers rock Lithuania, where she is editor.
15. If you ever get lost somewhere scary and messy in Delhi at night, you want the Greeks and Cypriots (fun, feisty, fearsome) by your side.
16. And, although I loved meeting, reconnecting, eating, drinking, laughing, learning and sharing with the sisters from all over the world ... there’s no place like home.
Mon, 21 Jun 2010 12:00 +0200
To Helen, With Love
He had the most glittering of careers, made an enormous contribution to the universe and was always a consummate gentleman. Without David, there would have been no COSMO as you all know and love it. He convinced HGB that she should approach Hearst to suggest making the content of her best-selling book, Sex And The Single Girl (Four Square), into a magazine. The rest, of course, is publishing history.

David loved, respected and supported his wife in every meaningful way, even writing all of the cover lines of US COSMO while Helen was at its helm. Theirs was one of the great love affairs of the last century.

I have always been more than grateful that life threw me at Helen’s feet. However, after my mother exited this editor’s seat and appointed me to replace her, Helen, I think, felt less than lucky.

In the early days, I was a youthful combo of ignorant and arrogant, and thought I knew best. But she was always a lady and I learnt more from her when she was irritated with my mulishness than when she was not.
Here’s an extract from one letter she wrote me. In her unique style, naturally.

‘Dearest Vanessa, I think we should possibly let up on you producing COSMO in its pure original form. As I have said until you are probably getting bored, the magazine belongs to you and you probably know what is right for your constituency. I would love COSMO to be more of a magazine of real help for your young reader, and there is some in the mix. Just not as much as I would like. Since there is almost no way you can protect yourself I would like to make some comments that I think are common sense rather than kvetching.

‘I feel you have too many articles that are negative.... I think some things in your COSMO tend to depress or discourage rather than cheer you along... Some of your pictures are boring and obvious ... I wonder why women would want to look at men who are ugly? I always think pulchitrude should apply to somebody you’d actually like to crawl into bed with.

‘Page 89 is a real turn-off to me. It says nothing! Page 97 and 98, ugly pictures! I always found that gorgeous sold the magazine. Vanessa, I probably won’t comment very often, because of the special relationship I have with your mother, but once upon a time she thought American COSMO was the best thing she ever saw and that’s why she wanted to start the magazine in South Africa and did. Maybe she won’t mind me writing you in this way, never mind whether you mind.’


What do you think I did after I received this (and a few other like it)?

I growled and whined and moaned of course (my blog name is not HurricaneVanessa for nothing), but eventually I realised that the opportunity to listen to, and learn from, a genius is a rare and precious gift. And then I grew up. My inner seven-year-old (rebellious, individualistic, stubborn, tempestuous) went to puppy-training classes and I emerged the better – both as a person and as an editor – as a result.

Though I can’t offer the wisdom of Helen Gurley Brown to all of you, I can send her much love and wishes for strength on your behalf. Then I can direct you (and your inner child) to ‘The Seven Year Hitch’ on Page 88.

I do hope Helen approves.
Thu, 22 Apr 2010 12:00 +0200
A COSMO Fairy Tale
‘Go out!’ said her wicked-but-sensible Fairy Godfriend. ‘Break some hearts! Get your hair messed up! Think like a man. Nothing serious. No fantasies of relationships or marriage and babies. Just go and have fun!’

‘I’m ready,’ she said, and wriggled into a skinny-mini dress and whisked out to a party, where she met a charming, solvent friend-of-a-friend.

Who panted around for a bit, like a puppy with a new toy, then asked for her number …and called! ‘Can you believe it?’ she said. ‘What now!?’

Her cellphone rang again. It was her lovely unicorns-and-rainbows Good Fairysister, bursting with advice and excitement: ‘Don’t sleep with him until the 12th date, whatever you do. Men are hunters! Show some decorum – do not listen to that wicked Fairy Godfriend! If you sleep with him he won’t ever respect you again. It’ll be over before it’s even begun!’

‘Bollocks!’ said the wicked-but-sensible Fairy Godfriend. (This is a COSMO fairy tale. There can be adult language.) ‘You want to have some fun! You are sensible and a grown-up. Do whatever the hell you want!’

So, clever COSMO girl that our princess was, she listened to her wicked-but-sensible Fairy Godfriend and went out and tousled her hair. When she was ready. When she felt the time was right for her.

Which was just a little sooner than her unicorns-and-rainbows Good Fairysister felt comfortable with, but ... our princess did not turn into a frog. And her maybe-prince did not disappear immediately in a puff of smoke. Chances are they will both live happily ever after. Maybe not together.

Who knows? Whether you are ‘good’ or ‘bad’, whether you sleep with a man on the first date or after date number 27, there is no guarantee that anything you do will make a man do what you want. And who wants to make a man do, think or feel what you anything?

Sometimes it pays just to have some fun, and see where that, plus a light touch, takes you. Without hating yourself the next day. Matters of the heart involve risk. Human beings are unpredictable. Be good, be bad - just be sensible. Be careful and make your decisions based on whatever seems right for you.

A good man (a real prince, if you will) will love your independent spirit and your powerful sense of self. As you should too.
That is the stuff of happy endings.
Wed, 17 Mar 2010 12:00 +0200
V-Day For All! I happen to believe that V-Day is perfectly peachy if you are in the first six months of a relationship. Or if you are frisking around breaking hearts and having yours broken. But for longtime couples, February 14 tends to elicit responses ranging from ‘ho hum’ and ‘very nice, thank you, darling’ to a hissing, snarling diatribe against the massive con trick of commercialism that is Valentine’s Day.
While it’s very nice to receive a gift of flowers or perfume from someone with whom you have been sharing toothpaste and a lavatory for years, it does not pack the same emotional punch as a card or rose from a surprising source, a fan you didn’t know you had!
An expensive, lacy piece of something from the lingerie family (a gift for him masquerading as ‘what you’ve always wanted’) is lovely when you’re in the early days of a love affair but, years later, when what you really want is a YSL Roady (a gift for you), it’s not so thrilling. Trust me.
I think the answer to a happy Valentine’s Day is all in the thrill, myself. (I would be beyond thrilled, Guru, with a Roady. I am just saying...). So, if I were single now I would take a chance. I’d probably send the object of my affections a batch of heart-shaped cookies, even though my mother always said not to, under any circumstances. What’s the worst that could happen? You discover he’s not that interested. Is that terrible? At least you would realise that you were up a dead-end, and instantly stop wasting your time and move on.
Men come and go but time is finite. You do not have masses of it to waste on one who ‘isn’t that into you’. You’re not sad; that’s sad.
What else to do on and around February 14? I’d go out dancing with my other single girlfriends. I’d stay home and watch three episodes of The Wire, back to back. I’d eat too many chocolates in bed. And sleep diagonally across the bed, if I felt like it. All the good stuff you can’t do when you’re in a relationship.
The Guru has not yet given me a YSL Roady, but he has passed on the odd nugget of wisdom. And one of his all-time greats is this: you do not have to make yourself miserable by wishing for what you haven’t got. Learn to value what you have instead.
So, this February, SGs, that gem is my Valentine to you all: love what you’ve got. Then go looking for love! See you on the dance floor.
Tue, 02 Mar 2010 12:00 +0200
Here's To You, Ducky Usually, if the question comes from a guy on a first date with one of us, the subtext to that question (evident in the dog-like glimmer of hope in his eye) is this: ‘Oh, God of eternally hopeful horny men, please let me have scored the chick who edits the sex section, oh please, please…’ etc. Many of them, I think, secretly hope for elastic bedroom gymnastics as the happy by-product of dating a COSMO staffer. 
Oh, catch me while I fall off my chair laughing. They should talk to The Guru – he’d put them right in a flash. On our first date, when he asked The Question, I took great pleasure in informing him that, as I spent all day thinking of new names for the same five sex positions, all I wanted to do in my leisure time was discuss politics and listen to obscure German electro-funk.
‘You know what they say about people who talk about sex the whole time?’ I remember saying. ‘That they aren’t doing it? Imagine if you were writing about it all the time, would you want to think about it when you didn’t have to?’ The look of dashed hope on his poor face was pure tragi-comedy.
There is more to COSMO than sex, of course, and being the guide to what to say and do on first dates is only one of the many valuable services we offer.
And when men get over their disappointment at not having scored a nymphomaniac, most of them, I’ve found, enjoy the company of the COSMO crew – whether staffers or readers. Because, of course, COSMO is the bible to a fun, fearless, foxy life. And fun, fearless foxes are generally excellent company.
The real answer to the question is that we get our ideas from thinking of you, about you and for you. You are in our bulls-eye 12/7, for 321 days of the year. (C’mon. Everyone needs a bit of time to listen to German electro-funk and think about nothing very much at all.) And let me say, as we embark on our 26th year together, that thinking of what matters to you has always been a pleasure and a privilege for us. We love our jobs. (Even thinking up names for sex positions. Especially the funny ones!)
We believe that you are the most rewarding community of women in the country and you inspire, encourage and excite us.
Here’s to all of us in 2010. Together, we’re going to have a great one!
Mon, 25 Jan 2010 12:00 +0200
Love All I consider it seriously for about one-eighth of a second.
Um. I don’t think so....
This is my column! I am in charge, and I think The Guru is better a) being written about than writing about himself, and b) left where he can get up to as little mischief as possible – on his sofa, immersed in his beloved Unfit Guys Cycling In Stupid Clothes Monthly.
On the other hand, we have been together for 100 years and we have shared history. Much of what has happened to me has happened to him, and might make good copy. Yin and Yang. More wisdom from the couch. (That was a really popular editor’s letter.) A man’s eye view! What it’s like to be married to a woman who thinks up new ways with sex positions for a living!
But, after that one-eighth of a second of careful consideration, I am decided: absolutely not.
We have different storytelling styles. My way is a) edited for a punchline; b) carefully crafted to make me appear as wise, witty and wryly self-deprecating as possible, and c) as brief as possible. I am an editor, bred that way. I cannot help myself.
When The Guru tells our shared stories, he a) forgets the chronology, gets side-tracked and, by the end, can’t remember what the point of it was in the first place; b) casts me as the fall guy to his wittier wise-cracking George Clooney; and c) includes embarrassing, exposing, cringe-inducing (not funny!) unnecessary detail.
So he is banished to the sofa, forever. At least in the pages of COSMO, where he will remain blissfully under my control. I do like it that way.
There is nothing more irritating to an editor than to have someone recount a shared story without being able to edit it.
The Guru could win an Olympic medal in being irritating. As I am writing this, thinking about him at his irritating worst, and not being all the other wonderful things he is, I am surprised to feel a warm wave of affection wash over me.
It’s a funny thing, loving someone. I used to believe that to stick a relationship out with any other human being, you made your peace with the stuff that wasn’t pure Prince Charming (did Prince Charming snore?!) and focused only on the positive. But in the end, as he so often says himself, love is a package. You can’t separate the good from the snoring. If he wasn’t Prince Irritating he wouldn’t be him. And my life would be immeasurably diminished without him in it.
BUT. The same rules of healthy love do not apply to COSMO. This issue, like every COSMO, is, we think, The Princess Perfect of Magazines! Not least because of the extras: a spicy selection of sex recipes, the bad boys of the A-list; this year’s truly Fun, Fearless Women and a bumper 48 pages of COSMO Rocks. Nothing but good, guys! Enjoy.
Be safe and happy over the New Year. See you in 2010!
Mon, 25 Jan 2010 12:00 +0200
The Camels of COSMO not exactly Hollywood, although it might be good, dignified work.)
I could carry on in this way but I’d be lying. Some days, like today, I am reminded how much fun the COSMO crew have, while calling it work.
Today, Cathy is nursing a black coffee and a righteous headache after staying out a bit too late last night with local super-band The Parlotones as she helped them celebrate the launch of their new wine label, Giant Mistake. Zelda is buzzing after having spent the past three days on the back of a Harley-Davidson disturbing the peace and exploring the West Coast and Garden Route.
I arrived at my desk this morning to find two review copies of new books I’ve been dying to read, and a brilliant and sexy pair of Reebok shoes to test-drive.
Terrible, awful ways to earn a living, I’m sure you will agree. Shame.
But no-one in our team has it quite as bad as those in the fashion and promotions departments, who are back from sunny, exotic Egypt after the pure hell of shooting the summer swimwear and beauty supplement, which adds an extra 66 pages to this magazine.
It was absolutely backbreaking, terrible work, according to them. They had to grind away, smiling and posing, labouring and sweating in the roasting sun to bring you the gorgeous, fun-filled pictures.
Shame again.
‘Camels would have had a better time,’ they report, with an evil glint in their eyes. I know they’re kidding. Everyone who works on this magazine loves their job, and I believe it shows.
We’ve always had fun putting this magazine together for you – and it’s important to ensure that you all share in that. ‘Fun, Fearless Female’ are not empty words for us – they’re a promise of the life you all deserve, and the magazine that aims to help you get it! Enjoy.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 12:00 +0200
All Quiet On the Masculine Front ‘Don’t let me down, Dawg,’ I say to him. ‘It’s been kind of tame round here.’
‘It hasn’t been tame,’ he says, ‘it’s just that no-one’s been talking to you.’
He’s not wrong. Good gossip has been thin on the ground and now ... disaster! Now even he, usually my best source, is not about to help me. He tucks into his lobster salad and engages The Guru in a long and dull conversation about the environment and some product he has developed to stop evaporation in Chinese reservoirs. He has nothing that I would call interesting to share with me.
It seems that, though it’s taken a while, he has finally figured out that it’s perhaps more politic just to keep schtum around me – and keep out of print. Perhaps he’s got a new girl he wants to impress, and is trying to reduce damage to what’s left of his good reputation. Or maybe I have just drunk too much of the Glen Carlou Chardonnay, leaving him in the unfamiliar situation of being less drunk and able to make a reasoned and sensible call on how much of his private life to share.
This leaves me in a tricky situation because I’ve got male behaviour on my mind and, as I have said before, The Guru’s guy pals aren’t generally great sharers. In fact, they are the soul of discretion and good manners... or perhaps just preoccupied with what actually does interest them: sport. Now, with the British soccer season and the Currie Cup in full swing, the last thing any of them feels like doing is coming down to Lazari and telling me who has been sleeping, cheating and flirting with whom.
But I’m nothing if not resourceful. I can even make no content content! At the features meeting the next Monday I ask the team whether any of them have better luck getting men to really open up about the what, why, where, how and who of what makes them tick. Because there are some questions that we (veterans to a woman of years on COSMO) would still like answered. For instance, what makes a man notice a woman (in a good way)? What do men really think about women taking the lead? What totally turns them off? And that’s just for starters.
It turns out that assistant editor Cathy Lund has plenty of male writers who are willing to help. And six of them – honest to the point of madness – have come clean about their girl-related behaviour in ‘The dating mandate’ on page 73. Also in this jam-packed issue are nine pages of naked celebrities (just for fun, guys, just for fun) and there’s ZEST – with all you need to know to get your body in shape for summer. There is only one COSMOPOLITAN, guys. Enjoy it!
Mon, 25 Jan 2010 12:00 +0200
The Slasher Burns Sunday Times Rich List businessman/visionary/blah-blah but now a pretty good novelist too. I am green with envy, as I have harboured a not-so-secret fantasy of writing a novel myself for years. And, me being me, I have only a collection of first chapters to show for my labours.

I'm jealous. But learning of his success also disturbs my equilibrium, in the way that I am always shaken when the tenderly nurtured belief system (based on the wisdom of Hallmark greetings) on which I rely to make sense of a crazy world is tested. In this case: bugger, how can living well be the best revenge for me when he appears to be living somewhat better? I sneak a look at his website and at the profile pictures in a couple of the predictably fawning interviews and even worse, he is more handsome than he used to be. Of course he is. Life, it appears, is not having a fair day.

He is not the only one of my exes who has done well for himself. My good-revenge theory has not really been working well of late. Even the Louis-Vuitton-Iuggage thief is making a movie with Demi Moore. 'You swore to me that he would never amount to anything!' I hiss indignantly down the phone to my best London friend. I have worked myself up into a froth of envy and figure that she, as the co-founder of our book club (called The Unfinished Book Club for obvious reasons), will share my unfriendly sentiments. 'And have you seen all the stuff about The Prince Of Darkness?' I practically spit. 'He's become JK Rowling!'

No!' she trills. 'I've seen nothing. I've been heads down. You won't believe what I've done!' (Oh, double bugger. I know what's coming. Why do I have such a good instinct for bad news?) 'I've finished my novel!' Who was it who said a little part of you dies when your friends do well? As I hear myself applaud and congratulate her, I can't remember. Perhaps it was me...

Et tu, I think, and put down the phone after assuring her that, sure, as I am an excellent editor I will be happy to proofread her book. Sigh.

So. There you are. I'm sure there was not ever much doubt, but I am not flawless. I have the capacity to be an unfriendly little green thing when caught unawares. The POD was wickedly mischievous and not at all keen to settle down, but he was actually a perfectly fun boyfriend while it lasted and he doesn't deserve me to expect him to live a life forever tarnished by my absence from it. Now that my nasty green froth has abated, I discover I am a bit proud of him. And pleased that, although in my wild years I always had an unerring knack for finding men who weren't perfect husband material, they were all interesting, special men.

Perhaps I should get over myself and get on. It's 4.30 on a Friday afternoon in the most beautiful city on the planet; the magazine has been sent off to the factory and the delightful handsomes of D7 have just left after serenading us in our office with an acappella Coldplay song (and red roses). The forecast is for a stormy winter's weekend – excellent weather for getting started on finishing an unfinished novel. Life is good. ]]>
Tue, 29 Sep 2009 12:00 +0200
A Little Crunched Schadenfreude, is one of my worst crunches of all time.

My famous BFF and I are standing at the coat-check counter of a nightclub in London, getting ready to leave. She, who knows and is adored by everyone, bumps into her Best Male Friend, a Major Movie Star, on our way to the exit. In her excitement, she throws her arms around him and her coat falls, unnoticed, to the floor. I pick it up and stand waiting for them to be finished air kissing and exclaiming how marvellous they both are. When they have run out of smoochy superlatives, Major Movie Star turns to me, and I prepare myself for a third-tier, barely polite, celeb greeting. 'Hihowareya' would do. (We have had dinner together twice before this encounter, but in Celebville that's as good as me having waited on his table twice.) But no. 'Oh great!' he says. 'The coat girl. Here's mine.' And with that he dumps a weighty pile of cashmere into my arms and turns his back on me. Fume. Cringe. Get me out of here.

I've never felt the same way about celebs, nightclubs or that piggy Major Movie Star since then. I suspect it's PTCS (Post-Traumatic Celebrity Syndrome) or, as my famous BFF puts it, 'a thin skin and a sense-of-humour failure'.

Is it any wonder, I sulk, that I have always preferred a glass of red wine, a nice wood fire, a yummy book and Van Morrison on the iPod to frisking around celebrity-infested nightclubs with my bullet-proof friends? I have never met Van, and can comfort myself that at least my favourite song of all time, 'Brown-eyed Girl', is a pleasure for always – no matter how dismissive or just plain bum-smackingly rude to lowly civilians, such as myself, its songwriter may be were I ever to encounter him in the flesh.

But no. Thin-skinned, humourless people are not safe anywhere. I read an interview with Van the Man: '"Brown-eyed Girl"?' he says. 'What a piece of crap. I don't get what anyone with taste likes about that song. I've written 300 better than that.'

OMG. Now I am a thin-skinned nobody with no sense of humour and lousy taste in favourite songs?

Sometimes the only thing one can do is quickly get a sense of humour and some perspective. Luckily, none of us have to exist in a world where we are judged only by how nice famous people are to us or how on-trend our taste in anything is. It is our choice to believe nonsense like that has any relevance to whether we are a person of value.

Occasionally, for instance, I watch the most tatty, low-rent crime and property porn on DSTV. Should I wake up at night in a cold sweat of shame about that, thinking my taste in junk TV makes me tatty and low-rent?

It's nuts, this world we inhabit. Superficial, meaningless things that shouldn't matter seem to. Things such as who you know. How you are treated by random people who aren't your friends. Your taste. What you look like. The way you dress. The accent you have. But to anyone who is worth your precious time or energy, none of that snobby rubbish will ever matter.

So, sing along to your most secret worst song as loud as you like, COSMO gals! Wear what makes you happy. Ignore the next person who treats you impolitely. We love you all.
Fri, 21 Aug 2009 12:00 +0200
A Dog's Life (July 2009)
'Excuse me,' I say, 'do you have a dog?'

As a chat-up line, 'Do you have a dog?' is not marvellous, but there is method to my madness – and, as I'm not chatting him up for myself, it doesn't matter if this stranger thinks I'm, er, barking. That he continues smiling and doesn't scuttle away towards the exit adds bonus points. But, tragically, it turns out to be irrelevant that he is polite and smiley.

'Yes!' he says (and I swear his eyes get misty). 'Two.'

I've got one more question: 'What are their names?'

'Kiera and Oliver,' he beams.

'Nice meeting you,' I say, and scuttle away towards the exit. Sometimes life's a bitch. I am on the prowl for good single men for my great single girlfriend and this man, while charming at first inspection, is most certainly not single. I know this because of my practically foolproof method for discovering the relationship status of men with dogs: The Dog Name Test – a subtle and simple diagnostic tool which, because we at COSMO are quite nice ourselves, I'll share with you.

If your potential prey's dog's name is quirky, butch or smart (Kerouac, let's say, or, oh I don't know… Bliksem) then he is single. Proceed! (Although, if the dog's name is as butch as Bliksem or as pretentious as Kerouac, I'd warn you to proceed with caution.) However, if the dog's name is Kiera, or Oliver, you're out of luck. Those dogs are his and his partner's child substitutes. Behind every cute man with a dog with a child's name is a woman, nesting away madly, buying squeaky toys and smelly, chewy kudu hooves, wasting her current favourite children's names, and testing her mate's potential parental skills on a couple of pretend children, aka the dogs.

And, single girls, life is too short to waste on chatting up someone else's man. The world is full of other men just begging to be put through The Dog Name Test. My test's amazing efficacy doesn't end there, though. There's more. Is your potential guy's dog's name Spot or Fluffy or Blackie or Snowy? Unless you want to be someone's stepmother, run! This man has children who are old enough to name a dog themselves. And, if he has no kids, do we really need to warn you about the dangers of dating a man with a dog called Fluffy? Thought not!

All you single ladies, try my test the next time you're out on the prowl. I promise it will work pretty much every time. It will save you time and effort, and keep you focused on a good-guy goal. Don't thank us. We're COSMO, we're glad to help.

But, back to me at the party: so, the guy at the bar isn't single, and I will not be able to drag him across the room like a delicious bone trophy to my oblivious great single girlfriend. The night is young, and I radar the room and spot another man with potential. If I were a dog, my tail would start wagging. Better luck next time, I say to myself. Every dog must have her prey.
Tue, 11 Aug 2009 12:00 +0200
Men, Again (June 2009)
I open my mouth to answer, but... 'Drogba! You biscuit! Goal, goal, goal!' – the room erupts, and the assembled choms lose interest in me. Who cares what a cranky woman has to say when there are strikers who can't strike without advice from a sofa in Cape Town?

I escape in search of a guy-free spot but find no peace. There is a Super 14 match on in the Sports Café (aka my lounge) and those choms who aren't watching Chelsea in the TV room are camped out there. A happy crew, content that, as long as there is sport on every screen in the house and a constant supply of junk food, all is well in their world.

What's to love?

Well. I do love The Guru. Some of that love is gratitude that he puts up with me. But if I had to do it all again, I'd still choose him over anyone else I've ever encountered. Aaah. Sweet. Or is it? Maybe I just can't be bothered with another male. After all, other males are, right now, turning my home into a noisy, smelly frat house. If this is what happens to all the Prince Charmings after the clock strikes 12, I'll stay home next to the fire with a nice glass of red wine and my broomstick.

But there I go again. Why is my default mode with regard to men to be bitchy?

If I discount the villains (rapists, thieves, con men and leaders of certain political parties), are men that bad? Some are smellier than us. Some are fond of noisy, boring sports. They don't have to get pregnant when we do. They can (and do) date younger women for longer than we are young. And they don't have to wax their bikini lines. Are those character flaws enough to justify me writing off the whole gender? Of course not.

The Guru points out that if we're playing the generalisation game, he could say that 'all women are irrational' and 'illogical', and that is why it's usually better, as a man, not to get too involved with girl stuff and just to watch soccer. 'At least the goalposts don't move,' he says.

There are some other men I do like. There are the husbands and boyfriends of my girlfriends who nurture, celebrate and love them. I adore my two Best Male Friends, one who makes me cool compilation CDs for the car and another who emigrated to Canada, leaving me the keys to a holiday home. I am grateful to Malcolm Kluk for dresses that make me look pretty. I love what William the Pilates Torturer has done to my body – thighs of steel, guys! – even though I'm not crazy about the look on his face when he sticks my leg into the pretzel position. (It reminds me of the Luggage Thief's 'How did I get myself into this position, with this chick?' sex face.) I can't start my day without checking out 2OceansVibe's Seth Rotherham, whose personality type (a combination of obnoxious, smart and hilarious) has always been my weakness. I love male vocalists in rock bands. I admire Jonathan Shapiro. And Tim Winton.

Even Mathew has a GSOH and would happily walk through fire for The Guru, which endears him to me. I stick my head into the TV room. 'Men are fine,' I say.

'I could even be nice about you, Mathew, if you would take your shoes off my sofa.'
Fri, 03 Jul 2009 12:00 +0200
Tell Me Straight (May 2009)
Because I usually resemble a bushveld shrub by the time I get around to booking an appointment with HSH, I generally spend hours sitting in his salon while he attempts an Extreme Makeover.

His guy friends, meanwhile, pop in and out at lightning speed. No problem with that. But these friends chat. Who knew straight guys chatted? And skinnered? And shared? Not me. The Guru and his mates aren't great chatters. They merely grunt, 'Any of you okes want another beer?' and watch some more soccer. Which is absolutely the right amount of noise you want to hear from any men after a long day at work.

But HSH and his friends seem to be girls at heart – they love to natter. They show no respect for my plans to have an hour of peace and quiet, reading magazines and listening to HSH's always-calming play list.

As one of my sanity-preserving, cheesy resolutions for 2009 is to turn every challenge that comes my way into an opportunity, I decide that I will listen in and use hair appointments as research for my job. Great! I can have my hair cut during work hours and not feel guilty! So, here is my first nugget from the salon/lab. And it's good… a gold-medal insight into the lives, priorities and passions of men.

Guy A to Guy B: 'So. You ready to pop the question, chom?'
Guy B: 'Hm. Yes. Think so. Maybe. In a while.'
Guy A: 'C'mon! She's HOT!'
Guy B: 'Yes, she is, but, hey, I almost got married before you know.'
Guy A: [In the style of the brunette from Sex And The City] 'No! What happened?'
Guy B: 'She was nice, but she wanted me to buy her a ring!'
Guy A: 'So?'
Guy B: 'I needed a new road bike.'
Guy A: 'Aaaah.' [He lifts an eyebrow and looks empathetic.]
Guy B: 'In fact – you won't believe this, chommie – she told me it was either her or the bike!'
Guy A: 'No! She didn't! What did you do?'
Guy B: 'Jeez. I got a killer carbon-framed Choc of course. Now that's hot.'

HSH switches on the hairdryer, and I hear nothing more.

Sometimes I believe there is a grumpy female God Of Girlfriends Of Men With Obsessive Hobbies. Maybe, I think, she was feeling vengeful on the weekend of the Pick 'n' Pay/Argus 2009 cycle tour. The wind howled. Screamed. The worst South Easter, ever.

'How did Guy B do on the weekend' I ask when I pop into the salon on the Tuesday after the race.
'Blown off his bike on Eastern Boulevard,' HSH answers. 'Massive groin strain.'
I smile and open my magazine.
Enjoy yours! ]]>
Wed, 10 Jun 2009 12:00 +0200
Class Acts (April 2009)
Perhaps no-one feels this passion more than I do because I, more than anyone, have really lived COSMO – since the launch party 25 years ago (which I, practically a foetus at the time, attended in an accidentally timeless outfit of black lace corset and plum gypsy skirt but sporting the obligatory Very Bad Hair of the period.) That was years before I became editor – years during which I worked in London on the UK edition and, later, launched Zest, my first magazine, as a brand extension. I've had a terrific career, lots of fun and learnt huge amounts on this magazine. Just as so many of you tell us you have had COSMO at your side through each stage of your life, so have I.

I have made many of my greatest friends here: Suzy Brokensha, once deputy editor and now editor of a competing title (take that anyone who still believes that women at work can't be competitors and friends); former UK COSMO editor Marcelle D'Argy Smith, who, more than anyone, understood how to write about women's lives, passions and issues in a way that defied anyone to label them frivolous and yet still made the magazine 'the best time to be had by all'; hilarious former Australian COSMO editor Mia Freedman, now blogger supreme (you've got to bookmark; and our similarly beloved COSMO sister, Kim St Clair Bodden, director of international editions. Then there are the incomparable Jane Raphaely and Helen Gurley Brown – both icons, both powerful role models any woman would be proud to meet in her lifetime. To have both of them on my side has been like winning the magazine lottery, over and over.

And there are the women who have put the magazine together over the years, both before and during my time at the helm: women who've added their talents to the success of the title and gone on to the success they deserve: Sumien Brink, Les Aupais, Cynthia Whalley, Roz Wrottesley, Lianne Burton, Nadine Rubin, Sally Emery, Heather Parker, Elaine Coaton, Kerry Rogers, Jo Springthorpe… oh, and a few good COSMO men: Marc Serra, Malcolm Kluk, Graham Reynolds and the ultimate COSMO guy, Volker Kuhnel – mentor, supporter, visionary and great friend.

There's Glynis Horning – who deserves a category of fabulosity and thanks all her own. There are two truly awesome women who make it possible for me to claim to be a capable editor: Loesje Boyle and Cathy Lund. If you love COSMO, you owe the two of them a debt of thanks. I consider all of us beyond lucky that they have chosen to commit their talents to this magazine. For all there is to know about the beauty business (as well as glamour and gossip!) there's Nicolene Strydom, the beauty editor's beauty editor. Without my partners – Julia Raphaely, Brett Stagman and Rebecca Whisson – there would be no business. And without the graceful, intelligent and loyal Azraa Garnie, I would fall apart and the whole COSMO team would run, screaming, for the hills. I'd really rather they didn't, for each and every name on our masthead is as valued and as key to this magazine's brilliant 25 years as every name that has appeared before theirs.

COSMO has always been a magazine put out by special people for special people. And, you, our readers, have always been the true stars of the show. Thank you for this unbelievable ride. Here's to the next 25 years! ]]>
Wed, 10 Jun 2009 12:00 +0200
Rover Returns (March 2009) not to know them.) 'Read this!' he says, shoving his Blackberry into my hands. 'Scroll!'

So I read the exchange of messages and, in the interests of research into the brains of dogs, er… men, will now relay them to you.

Subject line: These foolish things
'Hi Rover. It's Valentine's Day. And I can't help but remember that unforgettable, sexy night at the River Café in Brooklyn 10 years ago. Just thinking fondly of you. S'

Subject line: Confused
'Hi S. Can you clarify? Don't mean to be rude, but I am getting on a bit [he's 35] and I am not sure which S you are.'

Subject line: Samantha
'Remember me now?'

Subject line: More confused
'Sorry. I have 11 Samanthas in my address book. Do you have a surname?'

Subject line: Not so happy
'Rover, you said you loved me. You said you were heartbroken when I decided you weren't right for me. Are you taking the piss? Samantha. Brown.'

Subject line: Erm
'Have you perhaps got married in the interim? Do you have a different name now to then?'

Subject line: Livid.
'I AM married. Luckily not to you. Speak to you in 10 years' time.'

She is lucky. Maybe she drank one too few Manhattans that evening under the Brooklyn Bridge and was sober enough to just say no to him. He is baffled. 'Honestly. I have no idea...' he says. 'She's a bit touchy, isn't she? Anyway, no worries.'

Rover, like many men, is fundamentally a boy who loves to play. Without the biological pressure of our gender's ticking baby clock, he'll probably continue to travel lightly, charm many and forget more Samanthas for a while. Women, I think, are wired differently. Relationships (even the ones that weren't the one) matter more to us, we think about old lovers more often, keep a hold on the memories for longer. Rover (admittedly a rather extreme case) and all the other Rovers are adorable as friends and playmates, but hopeless husband material.

'You're a dog,' I say.

'Let's have a drink,' he says. 'Being terrible is thirsty work.' ]]>
Wed, 10 Jun 2009 12:00 +0200
But, Are They Real? (February 2009)
Who'd be a celebrity? This admittedly super-hot shot will definitely appear on many of COSMO's international editions and all eyes that alight on it are sure to find themselves drawn… to her rack.

As soon as it popped up on our art editor's screen, a flock of us gathered to discuss it. Are her breasts surgically enhanced? Inflated by sneaky retouching? Are they spookily watermelon-ish or… gorgeous? Is it only me, or are they strangely hypnotic?

We all love celebrity gossip, but, sometimes, when I'm in the middle of dishing dirt ('Will Smith, John Travolta, Tom Cruise, Zac Efron and Robbie Williams are all gay') I feel sorry for the absent star and somewhat shabby myself. How would you like to be a celeb?

Apparently 60% of British teenage girls would love it. That's the percentage who, when asked what they aspire to, say fame. They don't want to be happy, educated or healthy. They don't want to be a doctor, or a teacher. They don't dream of making a difference or finding a cure for the common cold or global warming.

They want to be… famous.

I think they mean famous in the sense of Jordan, the British glamour model, richer than rich for… taking off her top. But maybe they'd like to be someone with a big talent and even bigger set of problems, such as Amy Winehouse? Or maybe they dream of being Hollywood oldster Richard Gere? (A stellar career, a supporting role to the Dalai Lama and a mean-spirited little rumour about a small, furry creature that just won't go away.)

Or is the dream to be like Jessica Simpson? After all, she appears to Have It All: success, riches and a sexy boyfriend, for starters.

But she's paid a price for her fame: a pathologically pushy dad, no childhood to speak of, a failed first marriage, maybe a cosmetic surgery or four. Her intellectual limitations were broadcast on a reality show, making her an international figure of fun. Her every move is scrutinised. Her breasts are drooled over by dirty old men and forensically examined by all. Is that so appealing? I have a secret fondness for the Simpson girls – they're both hardworking troopers – but I'm not sure I'd like to be them. In fact, I'm not so sure about fame in any form.

Of course, some celebrities have masses of money and go to good parties. They live in luxury and go anywhere and do anything, often on private planes. But there's a good reason being famous is such a well-paid job; the reward for sacrificing the stuff that really matters in life has to be high.

The rest of the 'perks' that come along with huge fame (insecurity, competition, starvation, gnawing ambition, sycophants, users, lack of privacy and reality) are not, usually, essential ingredients for a good life.

Aim to be brainy. Happy. Real. That's our dream for you. ]]>
Wed, 10 Jun 2009 12:00 +0200
CH CH CH Changes! (January 2009)
And Murphy's Ex-boyfriend Law states that you will always bump into an ex-boyfriend when emerging from having been dumped by a messy big wave, with snot running down your face. You will come face to face with your past while trying desperately to re-adjust yourself and retain your dignity. (Or does this only happen to me?)

'Ha,' says the LVLT (Louis Vuitton Luggage Thief) as we eye each other up in the waves. 'You haven't changed a bit. You look exactly the same as the last time I saw you!'

'That's because you had just dumped me and I had snot running down my face and was trying to regain my dignity,' I say. 'Where's my luggage?' (Regular readers of this column will remember, perhaps, that my most awful ex packed his stuff into my precious luggage when he left me. I don't need reminding that I have better taste in luggage than in ex-boyfriends.)
'Gone! Gone!' he says. 'About four ex-girlfriends ago!' He looks disgustingly unfazed by both news updates. He is his same old cackly, scaley, confident self.

Nothing changes.

Or does it?

As I stand there – knee deep in the waves, in my JBS one-piece (which, no matter how cute, cannot disguise the fact that I am not the hottie I was when he decided I was not good enough for him) – I have an epiphany. I have changed! I don't care anymore!

I look at him and think: 1) why was I so crazy about you? 2) did all those trees have to die so I could weep tissues full for you? and 3) I actually look quite good considering the amount of white wine and chocolate cake that I have enjoyed since I last wasted time with a guy like you.

In January 2009, this ex isn't the all-powerful heartbreaker he once was. He's just a guy who gave me a metaphorical black eye and a bloody nose a few years ago. He's not good news. But he's not all bad either. And he was an excellent experience – he taught me what was bad for me.

Men. They are useful in many unexpected ways. 'I'm going for a swim,' I tell him. 'See you later.'

Dive in, COSMO gals! Enjoy. It's a New Year and time is a brilliant teacher. ]]>
Wed, 10 Jun 2009 12:00 +0200
Guru on the Sofa (December 2008) One medal at the Olympics, Team SA? Yikes.) Give us strength. And a sense of humour.

'Or, you could get a sense of perspective.' The Man launches into a lecture from the sofa. 'Things could be worse. You could be living in Kazakstan – you wouldn't love that. A huge percentage of the planet lives below the poverty line. Or you could be someone's pet – and have to eat pet food. At least you are not a dog.'

He says the nicest things. 'Some men,' I retort, 'buy their partners diamonds and handbags that are more expensive than diamonds to cheer them up. You tell me that I am not a dog.'
On cue, he smiles his habitually cheery smile and disappears behind his Economist.

He has learnt a lot about managing me over the years and, much as it pains me to admit it, I've learnt a thing or two from him.

The Man believes, among other things:
1) That there is very little point in engaging in conversations with stupid people with fiercely held opinions. ('Who needs the stress? Why not think silent, happy thoughts instead?')
2) It is not guaranteed, in life (or even in South Africa), that everything will get worse. Some things might, will and do get better.
3) That if today was a good day (which could simply mean that nothing life-threatening has happened to anyone we love) we're on to a winner.
4) That if you have your health, a decent roof over your head, good friends and meaningful work, you are privileged.
5) That the way to lose weight is to say no to second helpings.
6) That he is actually of 'medium' height, even though he has been on the short side his entire life. (Gotta love that self-image!)
7) That it's a good thing to have a bit of padding on a girl companion as it's useful and cuddly on a cold, winter night.
8) That Miuccia Prada is the antichrist.
9) But that if a Prada handbag makes me happy, it's worth scraping together the money to buy one.
10) That because he is loved he is a lucky man. 'That's enough for me.'

And I believe 'That's enough for me!' is not a bad thought with which to leave you, our fabulous COSMO crew, at the end of this challenging year.

Don't think for a moment I mean for you to stop working towards success and reward. (You know that all of us at COSMO are behind you all the way as you strive for your dreams.) All I'm suggesting is this: take time to think about, and give thanks for, what you have. Take a break from fretting about what you don't. I promise you, as soon as you do, you'll feel a little more like dancing. It's December. Party month. You've got to dance! Be safe. Enjoy. Here's to 2009. ]]>
Wed, 10 Jun 2009 12:00 +0200
Lioness or Ostrich? (November 2008)
Sometimes I just blurt out whatever bird poop pops into my brain. 'The Ostrich!' I trilled. 'Sticking my head in the sand has enabled me to live a fantastic life in South Africa, no matter how wobbly I've been feeling.'

When I read our feature Make The Bad Times Work For You, I remembered that moment. (The answer to my earlier question – how do you answer an unanswerable question? – is obviously: not very well.)

Right now, many questions are being asked of all of us, many of them unanswerable. Is South Africa going to be okay? Should we stay or should we go? Will a peaceful settlement ever be found for Zimbabwe? What is Julius Malema smoking?

One thing I know now is that adopting the ostrich position never does anyone any good. Older and wiser, I've figured out that I'd rather be a lioness than an ostrich. Denial (although it has its uses) is a dangerous position to adopt. Thinking like a skittish bird with a brain the size of a peanut is just… bird brained. In an uncertain world, optimists do better than pessimists. Success is based on expectations. If you hope, plan for and expect a good life, chances are you will place yourself on the right path towards getting it. Travel hopefully and you'll make sensible choices, work hard and learn to cope with whatever challenges get thrown in your path. Expect the worst, and you choose fear over bravery. You shouldn't be foolish or reckless, nor ignore the scary stuff – you've just got to remember that this is it.

Perfect or not, these are your 20s, in many ways the most pleasurable years of your lives. As the old cliché goes: in life, there are no dress rehearsals. Given that you cannot control the universe, only your response to it, it is better to be brave, alert, aware, well-informed and always on the look-out for a great opportunity than standing in the middle of the veld with your head in the sand and your butt in the… oh, okay. I know you get my point. We hope that COSMO always gives you the inspiration and confidence to live your fun fearless life, no matter how stormy the weather. Read page108 and think like a lioness. Let's hear you roar! ]]>
Wed, 10 Jun 2009 12:00 +0200
Good Girl Gone Bag (October 2008)
But one thing no-one could fault my taste on is handbags. I own some real beauties. Call me superficial, but handbags make me happy. They're overpriced, unnecessary (who needs more than one LBB?) and possibly one of the fashion industry's most successful con tricks, but I would still probably be tempted to choose a new handbag over a final meal.

In fact, I once kissed a new Burberry Butter-chocolate leather Hobo on receiving it as a gift. Then I jumped up and down and squealed. Sad. I'm not usually a complete twit (my mother can take some comfort in that at least) but handbags are my weakness. And in hard times they are in danger of becoming a real moral dilemma too: who can justify such purchases? Is it time for Handbag Rehab?

As someone who aims to make some contribution to making the world a better place, I have to question my principles when I walk around grappling with the realities of, oh, let's say economic hardship, homelessness, xenophobia and Julius Malema while simultaneously panting and salivating in the manner of Pavlov's dog, nose pressed up against the windows of Louis V, Gucci and Harper. To me, handbags are girl porn.

We could have salved my guilty conscience this month by turning COSMO into 280 pages of political analysis, correctness and general do-gooderness… but have no fear! COSMO is about what makes all of us feel stronger, happier, better… and, as we say on the cover, sometimes a few of the not-so-good things in life are not so bad at all. In fact, they're certainly better than guilt (surely one of the most crippling emotions). A glass of wine here, a roast potato there, a cute, patent-leather scarlet Guess clutch… it's a fact that much of what we enjoy isn't exactly good for us. But, in my COSMO opinion, moderation and balance are. A life worth living can't only be good deeds, doom and responsibility. There is space in every woman's life, no matter how tough it is, for reward. What's really idiotic is rewarding yourself and then feeling tatty about it. So, sometime this month, don't forget to raise a glass to celebrate the good things you contribute to the universe, then treat yourself to whatever makes you feel happy. It's okay! You deserve it. ]]>
Wed, 10 Jun 2009 12:00 +0200
A Blonde Moment (September 2008)
My man is suspicious, for as well as committing to my twice-a-week one-hour torture sessions I have also cut a fringe, gone a shade or three blonder, had a mid-winter leg wax and pedicure and spent a couple of badly behaved nights out on the town, without him.

Well, it's been a tough, depressing, expensive and rainy winter. I was in a slump, eating way too much of my favourite food: second helpings. Something had to be done.

'You know,' he says, suddenly the expert in female behaviour, 'when women in long-term relationships start colouring their hair and waxing their legs, especially in midwinter, it can only mean one thing: another man.'

Excuse me while I fall about laughing. Another man? How would I fit another man in, between all this maintenance? Has he not noticed how every one of my 'muscles' (aka rolls) is currently screeching with agony, or that after Pilates I walk like a 100-year-old woman? Do I look like a chick who wants to indulge in sexual gymnastics with someone new? It is horrifying enough to adopt the pretzel position, hidden beneath my baggiest sweats and a COSMO Kicks Butt T-shirt, under the neutral gaze of my Pilates teacher, let alone naked in front of a frisky new guy.

'William says it will take at least another eight sessions before my body looks good enough to be naked in front of someone new,' I say to him, reassuringly. Sometimes, in a grim winter, baiting a jealous guy is the best sport.

But I am touched that, after all this time and all my second helpings, he still believes that I'm attractive to other men. Sweet! Of course, I am not so many men's idea of a dream date, so he is pretty safe and needn't worry I might pole-dance in someone else's playboy pad, but his myopic devotion is nice to have.

He gets me thinking about the best piece of advice we haven't mentioned in our useful '112 COSMO Classics' on page80, and this is it:

When it comes to choosing The One, choose one who is crazy about you. Put this quality above most of the others. Don't chase, or bully or settle for someone who isn't 150% your biggest fan. That way you'll get the kind of enduring, endearing loyalty that real love offers. Make it your non-negotiable. ]]>
Wed, 10 Jun 2009 12:00 +0200
A Bitter Pill (August 2008)
It's Ms Murphy's law that when a girl makes an effort sartorially her blind date turns out to have halitosis and a 3/10 personality. When she makes no effort at all… she bumps into the most polished, well-dressed and scary of her female acquaintances. I try to camouflage myself behind a friendly, non-judgmental trashcan, but fail. Clearly, it's not going to be my day. This chick has never been my favourite but, damn, she looks hot. We are now nose to nose and I have to talk to her. I wrack my brain for something cool and witty. But, as usual when I'm in a stressful social situation, my default setting is Nerd. In a flash I morph back into the geek in glasses I once was at high school. She is the SA equivalent of a US prom queen, just dressed head to toe in Louis or Gucci or something, and, sadly, at least two dress sizes smaller than she was the last time our paths crossed. 'WOW!' I blurt. 'You look hot! Amazing! You've lost tons! You're all… perky. You look gorgeous.'

'Pilates,' she says.

At this point, of course, I should have scurried off as fast as my wobbly, unexercised legs could carry me, but I continue gabbling: 'Oh, you're so motivated. I'm so impressed. I'm so disorganised. I can't get myself off the couch….' She cuts me off. 'Well,' she says, 'you don't look so bad.'

Spurred into action, I find myself, two weeks later, dangling from a Pilates frame, which appears to be a cross between something Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee use for naughtiness in their bedroom and an instrument of mediaeval torture. William, the Pilates teacher, is diplomatically encouraging but, while I am contorted into pretzel positions the like of which I have only ever seen before in COSMO'S 101 Sex Positions booklet, I ask myself (repeatedly) why I am doing this. Research for this month's inventive take on sex positions? Er, no. This August COSMO is having fun and suggesting games in the bedroom. Whatever Pilates is, it's not fun. Yet. Of course, at COSMO we don't usually advocate only fun; most things that are worth getting are somewhat tough and require hard work. ('No-one gets paid to sit on the couch. You won't make a living eating pizza. Blah blah,' my father's voice echoes in my ears.) But you know what? This month, why don't you leave the hard work and pain (ouch, my 'muscles' are aching as I type this) to me – and take page 80 into your bedroom. 2008 is a tough year. You deserve some fun. Enjoy! ]]>
Wed, 10 Jun 2009 12:00 +0200