R.I.P Helen Gurley Brown, The Original "Cosmo" Girl
Helen Gurley Brown, the legendary Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan magazine passed away August 13, 2012 at the age of 90. Brown is known for transforming the magazine into what it is today. Cosmopolitan owes a lot to Brown for turning the struggling general interest publication into a must-read for its provocative stories on women and sex (heck, they're practically still using her same articles). But we owe her something too for the footprint she's left on the landscape of women's media. She got the conversation going about what it means to be a woman who enjoys sex and independence, making her a pioneer of the sexual revolution, and in some ways, feminism in general. It's a conversation we're still having across the web everyday. You can't read a Cosmo article, or woman-centric blog post for that matter, today without seeing at least a bit of Brown's influence. Of course, not all of Brown's contributions were positive ones. She propagated a whole host of damaging ideas that are still present in the magazine and in women's media in general. For instance, she was a key player in setting the tone that physical perfection—and therefore happiness—is just one kegel exercise or mud masque away for any woman willing to put in the time and effort. (Of course, the work is never done). But can you imagine a Carrie Bradshaw without Brown's then-radical 1962 book Sex and the Single Girl? If it weren't for Helen and her "101 sex tips" and the like, sites like Jezebel wouldn't have anything to deconstruct with their astute commentary. And I probably wouldn't be typing away here today. (I certainly wouldn't have experienced a night as the Cosmo girl of my adolescent dreams if it weren't for Helen's "Fun Fearless Female" ideology.) As Nora Ephron so perfectly put it in her 1970 profile of the icon for Esquire, "she was only trying to help." And help she did. In honor of her trailblazing career, let's take a look at some of the radical covers during her tenure as Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan. They certainly stand the test of time! Here's to you, Helen, the original Lady Blogger.