RIP Helen Gurley Brown, the Original Cosmo Girl
Fact: Cosmopolitan used to be a family magazine.
That’s right: the magazine that is covered up in most grocery store aisles used to feature articles for kids. That is, until Helen Gurley Brown took over in 1965. This lady knew what she was doing. Her bestselling 1962 book, Sex and the Single Girl, was arguably the first public statement that women could “have it all,” a how-to manual not “on how to get married but on how to stay single—in superlative style.” (Another fun fact: Sex and the Single Girl would later inspire the HBO show “Sex and the City,” whose narrator was the alum of a certain sex-positive school…) She popularized the radical notion that women could be more than pin-ups and housewives, that they could be part of the working world, have fun without husbands, and simply that they were—get ready for it—able to enjoy sex. Needless to say, the idea sold itself.
Brown passed away this Monday at the age of 90, and even though she stepped down as editor back in 1997, she was still a regular presence at the Cosmo offices. Here, some advice from the original Cosmo girl to remember her by (jury’s still out on that tip from #7). Okay, so her message is a far cry from that of FemSex or a GNSS seminar—what is “it all,” anyway?—but still, we at Brown share more than a name with the phe who made it cool to talk about orgasms. HGB, we tip our hats to you.