Helen Gurley Brown published Sex and the Single Girl in 1962, the year I was born. I haven’t read it and wonder if in 2012 it would be a juicy retro delight or a tired cliché? I have, however, like most women, thumbed through my share Cosmo magazines. There is, in fact, a 2" x 3" remnant of one issue that I especially treasure.
I remember my first glimpses of Cosmo when my mom would bring it home and leave it on coffee table…except for that issue with Bert Reynolds, which she made some attempt to keep out of sight. As a young teenager it was titillating; in retrospect, it occurs that I never thought twice that women could have careers, live in the city, dress fabulously, and actively seek men. This was the age of Mary Tyler Moore and That Girl after all!
In college, I bought my own issues of Cosmo, mostly for the quizzes, the Bedside Astrologer, and yes, the sex tips and the men (Tom Selleck! Richard Gere!). Ms. Brown left Cosmopolitan in 1996, and today with cover stories such as “Wow Him Every Time,” “How to Read His Beach Body”, and “30 Things to Do to a Naked Man” I wonder if it is a continuation or an abomination of her “bad girls go everywhere” philosophy? Or, if I must face facts, perhaps simply I am no longer “The Cosmo Girl” demographic – that era having passed me by a quarter of a century ago.
this simple girl’s approach to life.
I also hope you see that #31 on the list of Things to Do to a Naked Man is to be able to walk as confidently away from him as you do toward him. Herewith, the advice from Helen Gurley Brown's tenure as Cosmo editor:
".... it’s time to take realistic action – trade some of that spending for saving, finally write up your resume, take a hard look at your lover – and recognize that you can be responsible for your own happiness and success. Most important, remain aware that reality will never quit match your fantasies, no matter how down-to-earth they are. “We all have to grow up and recognize that life is a blend of positive and negative experiences, relationships, enterprises, projects,” reminds Sally L. Kitch, director of the Center for Women’s Studies at Wichita State University in Kansas. “Whatever you undertake is going to be part headache, part pleasure.”
“To write fiction,” Virginia Woolf said, “a woman needs money and a room of her own.” This is true on a metaphoric level as well. To be the author of your own adventures, to plot your own life, you need to be financially self-supporting and to have a place that you can call your own. Not a house in the country, not a room in the attic, but simply a safe haven for your sense of self-worth and the belief in yourself as the source of your own salvation.”
Rest in Peace Ms. Brown
p.s. I’ve sent a request to Sally Kitch in an effort to identify the year this article was published. I'll update this piece if I get a reply