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Atoosa Rubenstein, Cosmo Girl, and the Harsh Reality of Being a Fashion Magazine Editor

by Nkem Emefiele

Envision this, you are a 26 year old woman told to create a new type of fashion magazine. Less than 2 days later, you come up with Cosmo Girl and become renowned for being the youngest editor-in-chief in Hearst's 100 year history. You've made it! 

Despite this being Atoosa Rubenstein’s reality, while most can only dream of such a life, she detached herself from that path just a few years after Cosmo Girl’s creation. 

Rubenstein was born on the 13th of January 1972, having just turned 52, in Iran. At age 3, she moved to the hustle and bustle of New York City, with her family later relocating to Long Island. 

She studied at Barnard College and became a public relations intern at Lang Communications. She juggled a few jobs to be able to pay her bills and worked to get to where she wanted to be. For example, she worked at retail stores and dropped out of her sorority to take on a second magazine internship - talk about determined. 

Rubenstein's career kicked off in 1993, starting with her becoming a fashion assistant for Cosmopolitan, just 5 years later she was promoted to senior fashion editor. 

In 2003, after Hearst bought Seventeen magazine, she was made Editor-in-Chief. In this position, Rubenstein increase their sales, after being on a decline for the prior 5 years, and delivered total growth of 23%. 

By doing so, she was able to only make a name for herself, but also create a show for MTV, Miss Seventeen, and had multiple appearances on America's Next Top Model.

While her career was increasing, her mental health unfortunately was not.

In 2006 Rubenstein announced her departure from seventeen and decided to follow a new path.

In 2023, she took to social media to share her struggles and hardships in relation to the topic of her mental health and how that has altered her life from her highschool life to now. 

During high school, Rubenstein discovered one of Earth's worst cravings. 

She earnestly shared having begun to self harm, and found it to be something that started to relieve her pain and stress. She described the blade as having a “hypnotic quality” and being “addictive” all the way to her senior year. She was trapped and didnt talk about it which caused her harm more. 

Despite being aware she was headed down the wrong path, due to therapy not being free nor affordable she was unable to get the help she was aware she needed. The only source of comfort was a Seventeen magazine, which thankfully covered the reasons why some may turn to self harm, highlighting the important role publications play in helping people and providing information. 

Finally feeling heard, she stopped a year after college. Everything was starting to look up for Rubenstein.

Talking about your mental health issues is imperative, I promise you there is someone out there who will listen and you will find someone that understands your struggles, even if it’s something as simple as a magazine, book, or TikTok account. 

Through everything she endured, she created Cosmo girl; an american fashion and lifestyle magazine. Published until 2008, it was tailored to tennagers and was a great success, having reached 8 million readers during its publication.

After a successful career, in 2006, Rubenstein left Seventeen to launch her own teen-focused website, write a book, and start a youth marketing consulting firm. Now, she is happily focused on being a mother of 3. 

Edited by Emily Duff

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