Dakota Fanning created quite a stir when she, not yet 18, graced the cover of Cosmo. On first glance, I have say that Dakota stood out, but my eyes shifted their focus as the racy cover lines came into clearer view: “His Best Sex Ever: Guys Describe the Mind-Blowing Moves They Can’t Stop Thinking About,” “Too Naughty to Say Here! But you have to try this sex trick” and “Dakota Fanning: The side you’ve never seen.”
Unfortunately, the last cover line definitely comes off as double entendre, and I am not saying that my mind is always in the gutter but it is Cosmo magazine and we do expect most of the topics to be about sex. This issue is not any different. However, the question is this: Was Cosmo wrong for putting Dakota on the cover? According to some critics, they were definitely wrong and Dan Gainor of the Culture and Media Institute in his interview to RadarOnline.com criticized Cosmo for “hitting a new low” with Dakota on the cover and went on to say that Cosmo, “sells teenage girls like a street-corner pimp.”
Really? Are you kidding me? Cosmo pimped out Fanning like a prostitute? — I don’t think so. Have you seen the coming-of-age movie, The Runaways? A 2010 film which starred Dakota Fanning as the sexually charismatic and underage Cherie Currie. Ironically, Fanning would have been even younger when this movie was filmed and when it was released than when she graced the cover of Cosmo. Therefore, I am going out on a limb and assuming that Dan did not see the movie, because if he thought Cosmo was pimping out Dakota, I wonder what he would have thought about the underage star and her sex scene with Kristen Stewart’s character, Joan Jett, provocatively strutting around on stage in corsets, stockings and garters? I think he jumped the gun by being superficial and focusing on Cosmo’s racy headlines and missing the bigger picture.
Personally, I do not think that Cosmo was wrong to have Dakota on the cover and here is why: I have watched The Runaways and in the beginning of the movie, Cherie Currie gets her period for the first time. I think this is crucial to the movie because it indicates a rite of passage. The period scene indicates her character leaving her youth behind and moving into adulthood. We see her going through different experiences with sex, drugs and alcohol. The experiences that Dakota’s character goes through are a part of growing up and finding herself as a person which later defines her in life.
Dakota being on the cover of Cosmo is another rite of passage. Being in the public eye from a very early age, she was always seen as the cute little girl with the two front teeth missing; and then she grows up, but the public eye expects her to stay the little girl that they grew accustomed to. I think her being on the cover tells people that she is growing up and moving into adulthood and is no longer the little girl with the two front teeth missing, but still maintains her innocence by wearing a pink, sparkly dress. I think sometimes when the public eye sees someone like Dakota growing up and moving into not only adulthood, but womanhood, we don’t know how to react because there is a part of us that wants her to remain the little girl that we first saw. Maybe it is a way for us to hold on to childhood and innocence as well.
In the end, I don’t think Cosmo exploits Fanning sexually or exploits any teenager. It is a simple coming-of-age message that simply says, “I am not a kid anymore.” If Dan Gainor wants to call out individuals for child exploitation then he should watch Toddlers and Tiaras, and not be worried about Cosmo’s pimping out underage celebs.