Magazine editors are like fashion directors, fascinating, but often more than a little bit scary (see our previous post on Anna Wintour). We have encountered many high powered women in our careers that make Miranda Priestley in ‘The Devil Wears Prada,’ look positively tame.
Helen Gurely Brown is one such fashion editor and has always strangely fascinated us, although we’re not sure we’d like to work for her!
At the age of 87 she still goes into work as the International editor of Cosmopolitan, exercises for 90 minutes every day and if she eats more 1,800 calories a day, will fast for 36 hours!
Gurley Brown wrote ‘Sex and the Single Girl’ in 1962 at the age of 40 and overnight created a publishing sensation. The book dispelled the myth that girls should be married before having sex and explored the pleasures of flirting, enjoying affairs from beginning to end, finding men in unexpected places and the delights and drawbacks of married men.
In 1965 she became editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan and reversed the fortunes of the failing magazine. She was an outspoken advocate of women’s sexual freedom, sought to provide them with role-models in Cosmo and claimed that women could have it all, “love, sex, and money.”
Her personal life is as fascinating as the effect she had on feminism and the invention of the ‘Cosmo Girl’ generation. Re-inventing herself from humble secretary to one of the highest paid copy writers on the West coast and later a leader of the sexual revolution, Gurely Brown’s story is a real rags to riches tale.
We love her famous quotes and feel a ‘Sex in the city’ type film version of the book coming on. Just imagine the fabulous outfits!!
“Beauty can’t amuse you, but brainwork, reading, writing and thinking can.”
“People think chutzpah is in the genes. It isn’t…it’s in the needing and wanting and being willing to fall on your face. It isn’t fun…who wants all that rejection, but life is sweeter if you make yourself do uncomfortable things.”
“The flirt reacts. She laughs at the jokes, clucks at the sad parts, applauds bravery. I really think it gets easier to flirt as you get older because you learn to listen to any man, employing the same charm and rapt attention you once reserved for seven-year-olds.”
“Money, if it does not bring you happiness, will at least help you be miserable in comfort.”
“Good girls go to heaven; bad girls go everywhere.”