Helen Gurley Brown -- the mere mention of her name inspires me. The legendary magazine editor and publisher died earlier this week, leaving many in the publishing world with heavy hearts, along with the legions of women who admired her. She has undeniably changed the way many young women see themselves (myself included) and has always strived for women to make something of themselves and not depend on anyone else to get ahead -- she took women's lib to an unprecedented level.
When I was a young woman coming into my own, I felt somewhat shy and almost embarrassed when I went to the local smoke shop to get a copy of Cosmpolitan with the risqué titles and racy covers. I felt like a young boy getting an issue of Playboy and always purchased another magazine to go along with it. But I would say to myself: "What would Helen Gurley Brown do in my shoes?" Even at this age, I was well-aware of the doors Brown had opened. So I walked into the smoke shop with my head held high and bought my copy of Cosmopolitan with the suggestive title. Why should I be embarrassed, right? However, the articles in this magazine were maybe not intended for a 14-year-old girl -- perhaps just the stories on fashion and makeup application.
As I got older, however, I started to subscribe to the publication. The magazine did well for many reasons, and women weren't afraid of letting others see them read topics which may have once been seen as taboo. Were women really reading about male-female relations...in public? Yes! There was no need to hide any longer.
These days, I see the magazine on the tables of doctors' waiting rooms everywhere. Although I no longer subscribe to the magazine, I do flip through it when I have the chance in the supermarket line or at the local pharmacy.
Twenty-five years later, it's not as relevant to me -- but I know many younger women who love reading it and can relate to what they're reading.
Brown said some wonderful things during her life, but my favorite quote is: “Nearly every glamorous, wealthy, successful career woman you might envy now started out as some kind of schlep.” Well, I'm still trying, Ms. Brown, and I hope this Cosmo girl has made you just a bit proud.
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