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by
Kathy Shaidle

Bio

August 20, 2012 - 8:00 am
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Yes, I know:

She advocated for legal abortion and contraception.

She made the world safe for Sex and the City.

Worst of all, she insisted on wearing mini-skirts well after menopause.

Yet I can’t help but admire Helen Gurley Brown, the author of the early 1960s self-help phenomenon Sex & the Single Girl and longtime editor of Cosmopolitan magazine who died last week at age 90.

I’ve always had a soft spot for “outsider” female writers of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. It’s hard to imagine two women more different than Grace Metalious and Jacqueline Susann, yet I inhaled both their biographies.

Helen Gurley Brown was part of the same cohort of fiercely ambitious, sometimes uncouth “literary” females of the era.

But while those novelists created vivid fictional worlds in which to play out their fantasies of beauty, romance, fame, and revenge, Helen Gurley Brown’s accomplishment was far more audacious:

She too imagined, in pointillistic detail, her ideal realm — then set about remaking an entire society to match her personal vision.

The old joke goes, “It’s Sinatra’s world — we just live in it,” but it would be more accurate to say we’re living in Helen Gurley Brown’s.

Not everyone is happy about that.

However, there ARE three things to love about the brash publishing icon.

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