Helen Gurley Brown

Picture of Helen Gurley Brown

Who: Helen Gurley Brown, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine for three decades; author and publisher

Why She Dazzles: She was the OG Carrie Bradshaw, and played a strong part in America’s sexual revolution, particularly as the EIC of Cosmopolitan magazine. Helen encouraged women to build their careers and be independent during a time when they were urged to be housewives. Her best-selling books Sex and the Single Girl (1962) and Having It All (1982) are still relevant to women today.

Why You Need to Know Her Today: Helen reinvented Cosmopolitan from a once failing magazine to one of the most talked about magazines of her era and today. She invented the sexy and sophisticated content blend that became the magazine’s signature product; her magazine wrote about sex, but also features about abortion and women’s rights. Watch the absolutely inspiring show, The Bold Type, for a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how today’s “Cosmo girls” carry on Helen’s legacy.

What She Would Say—Because She Wrote It Then: “The sexiest women are the achievers, for they are the most interesting and exciting. They challenge a man by being as desirable, sought after and respected as he is.”

Picture of Ana Khouri Gold Martha earrings
“Whatever you feel you look nice in is what you probably ought to be wearing, provided it isn’t slashed to the navel or dripping with lace.”—Helen

What She Would Wear From Day to Night: Spiral earrings in 18-karat yellow gold. Helen reinvented the Cosmopolitan brand from a boring and failing print product written by men, into a magazine targeted for ambitious middle-America females seeking careers and sexual freedom. Born and raised in Arkansas, Helen worked hard for her career to eventually become a very powerful boss lady in a man’s world.

Picture of red and black high heels on a card by ncart on Redbubble
“The most successful women in the world are still totally, crushingly vulnerable. So are most successful men.”—Helen

 

What She Would Send to Her Friend: Helen encouraged women to be whoever they wanted to be, particularly when it came to their careers. Seeking a powerful heel? Christian Louboutin’s signature red soles are one of the world’s most iconic shoe designs and scream success. Speaking of success … Helen was also the OG Peggy Olson and Joan Harris because she became one of the highest-paid ad copywriters in the early 1960s.

Picture of Hearst Tower in New York City
“Cosmopolitan” magazine was first published in 1886 as a family magazine, and later became a literary magazine until Helen transformed it into a modern women’s magazine.

 

Where She Would Instagram: New York City, specifically Hearst Tower, home of Cosmopolitan magazine and the Hearst media conglomerate established by media mogul William Randolph Hearst in the 1920s. The tower was the first “green” high-rise office building in New York City with many impressive environmental practices, and became NYC’s first LEED-certified gold skyscraper.

Tweet This: “Beauty can’t amuse you, but brainwork—reading, writing, thinking—can,” Helen Gurley Brown, iconic former boss/EIC of @Cosmopolitan magazine #anewlady

 

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