On August 13th the world lost the amazing Helen Gurley Brown. During her 32-year career as editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, she turned the submissive suburban housewife into a sexually liberated go-getter, becoming an inspiration for generations of women.
Walking past a newsstand the other day, I couldn’t help noticing all spicy headlines encouraging women to toss the iron aside, abandon the oven and rock the hottest clubs (even on a working day). The image of that sexy, smart, confident woman who juggles a successful career, saucy love life and a fat bank account was staring at me from every cover.
Believe it or not, that wasn’t the case half a century ago. Helen Gurley Brown was the ultimate prototype of a “Cosmo girl” who told women around the world that we could have it all – “love, sex, and money”.
In her bestseller “Sex and the single girl”, she shocked the 60s world with the disclosure that, while waiting for Mr Perfect, unmarried women were having sex (and enjoying it too!). Gurley Brown had strong belief that her book could be transformed into a magazine and Cosmo glossy pages were the opportunity she received from Hearst.
It is arguable, if her ideas helped the cause of women’s liberation or not, but one thing is undoubtedly a fact – she revolutionised the vision women had for their lives and their role in society. Without her work, you probably wouldn’t be a proud owner of the “Sex and the city” box set and you might still be waiting for that equal pay cheque, not to mention the big O.
However, don’t get fooled that she was one of those feminists who were burning their bras and trashing man (she was happily married to film producer David Brown for 51 years, after all). In fact, she invented “lipstick feminism” - women should fight for their rights while looking at their best.
Gurley Brown followed her own rules passionately until her last breath - a fragile-looking woman with love for big jewels and mini dresses, she died at the age of 90 and will be remembered as a role model from generations of women.
By Eti Tashkova - Fashion Writer for A-SHU.CO.UK.