Dear Cosmopolitan: A nation of women brought up on magazines such as Collective Farm Girl now has a taste of Western glamour: Russian Cosmo. A reader is intrigued

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Indy Lifestyle Online
I have a confession to make. (Letters to your magazine often start like this, I am told.) Until I set eyes on Cindy Crawford pouting on your glossy, silky cover, I had never heard of your publication. How intriguing, then, to see 'Cosmopolitan in Russia' emblazoned across Cindy's thighs]

'In Russia at last', your magazine's spine proclaims. 'In Russia' it may be, but I don't know whether it will be in many Russian homes: your cover price is beyond the means (and the comprehension) of most Russian women. One issue costs dollars 3 (5,400 roubles), or about 5 per cent of the average monthly salary in Russia (the equivalent amount in Britain would be about pounds 70); for that, we could buy a kilo of meat. Never mind. Cosmo, it transpires, is an international magazine and everything from the West is, as we all know, super chic and terribly expensive.

You would appear to have few rivals on the Russian market. House Goblin and Reviewer (magazines dealing with home interests) offer some sort of competition, I suppose, but they are 'for all the family', in other words for men. About five years ago Germany's Burda Moden came out in Russian, enclosing dress patterns and causing a revolution in the way we felt and looked. We began to dress and use make-up with much more refinement. Our own brands of make-up were never in short supply, and we used to plaster it on - you know, blusher, false eyelashes, the works. Now it's just a light smear of lipstick, if anything at all.

You may be surprised - and not very flattered - by the comparison, but your magazine has much in common with those of the old Soviet women's press such as Female Worker and Collective Farm Girl. They, too, believe it or not, featured fashion trends, psychologists' tips (I love a married man, I need an abortion, what should I do?), readers' letters, profiles of 'stars', recipes and a horoscope. But I would like to thank you, Cosmo, for making an effort to adapt at least some of your subject matter to the harsh realities of life here.

I refer to pieces such as 'Why do I always feel so tired?' and 'Paradise in a two-room flat'. Prices in Moscow's smarter shops are, of course, way beyond the means of most of us, but it was interesting to learn what they sell and how much it costs. We all realise that your magazine is really targeted at our country's female elite.

But before you get too full of yourselves, let me say this: only after reading Cosmo did I realise how alike the contents of women's publications are. So welcome to Russian soil, Cosmo, but don't kid yourselves into believing that we have been sitting around waiting for you to civilise us.

That said, I have to admit that the most valuable piece of information I gleaned from your magazine was that perfume should be applied behind the knees.

(Photograph omitted)

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