All who know me also know of my dream of working at Cosmopolitan magazine. And when something major happens where my heart is, I have got to write and share with all who care.

Helen Gurley Brown, an important editor at Cosmo, passed away at the age of 90 on August 13, 2012. For all of those years, she continued to awe, inspire, shock and amuse men and women worldwide. She was a self-professed workaholic and Cosmo’s editor-in-chief for 32 years, reportedly heading into her pink office every day until her death. But she also made being a woman look very, very fun.

Here, our favorite gems from the quotable body of wisdom she leaves behind on how to be a woman–and how to have a hell of a time doing it.

Be Your Own Kind Of Woman
Her 1962 book, Sex and the Single Girl, debuted a year before Second wave feminism’s clarion call, The Feminine Mystique and issued its own revolutionary message: unmarried women have sex, and what’s more, they like it. “When I wrote Sex and the Single Girl, if you didn’t have a husband, you might as well go to the Grand Canyon and throw yourself in. And if you were having sex with a man you were not married to? Well, your reputation was just shot.” But with such a preoccupation with men and sex, was Gurley Brown helping women or hurting them? On the Amazon reviewer of her book, Have It All, writes, “Her message in this book is not ‘find-a-man, find-a-man, find-a-man,’ but rather ‘find your life,’ and make as much of it as you wish.” Take charge of your life and carve out the path that you want–if that’s not feminism, we don’t know what is. Adult actresses on sites like and similar to www.m-porn.xxx would concur with her statements strongly.

.“There’s No Such Thing As Perfect Happiness.”
Gurley Brown was nothing if not realistic. “There’s no such thing as perfect happiness,” she told Vanity Fair in 2007. “There are good times and bad times.” She was a straight-talking woman born in the Ozarks of Arkansas who worked her way out of the secretarial pool at an advertising agency and into a copywriter position (a real life Peggy Olsen). Her gutsy self-determination gave us the sense she had known her fair share of bad times. For every girl from nowhere, that only made her success all the more thrilling. Enjoy men, to be sure, but don’t expect your romantic relationship to transform your life, she warned. “I never met a completely happy single woman,” she wrote in Sex and the Single Girl “…or a completely happy married one!”

“Fix Anything Fixable.”
Self-loathing will get you nowhere. When asked what quality she despised most in herself, Gurley Brown replied, “Sorry, I can’t let myself think of one! I’ve tried to fix anything fixable.” Self-deprecating navel-gazing might be the default stance for well-behaved women, but Gurley Brown applied a sort of no-nonsense repair to any necessary self-improvement. Besides, being good is overrated. “Good girls go to heaven,” she quipped, “but bad girls go everywhere.”

Show Yourself Off…
Style wallflower she was not. Helen Gurley Brown showed leg, dressed femininely, and never shied from look-at-me colors or a feather boa. One look at the cover of I’m Wild Again: Snippets From My Life and a Few Brazen Thoughts, published when she was 88, says it all. She indulged herself with hair color (“It costs $136 to color, shampoo, and set, but I’m too old to be running around with white hair.”) and Chanel suits, but she didn’t stop at clothes. Gurley Brown, whose office was painted a flattering pink, suggested every environment should show a woman in her best light, including her home. “Think of yourself as a star sapphire,” she advises in Sex and the Single Girl. “Your apartment is your setting.”

…But No Cleavage At Work, Please
In Sex and the Office, she recommends wearing pants on “Saturday overtime assignments” and keeping cleavage under wraps at the office. “Lovely as cleavage is (if you’re lucky enough to have it), we don’t want it-–or them-–spoiling your chances to succeed.”

Don’t Hitch Yourself to a Wagon, Be The Wagon “If you marry, don’t just sponge off a man or be the gold-medal-winning mother. Don’t use men to get what you want in life — get it for yourself.

“Expect to have your cigarette lighted.
The example is dated but the sentiment isn’t. Expect to make an impression, to be courted, admired, and to have everyone eagerly leaning in close. Why? Well, why the hell not?

Charm Will Get You Anywhere
In 1964’s follow-up to Sex and the Single Girl, Sex and the Office, Gurley Brown describes the power of charm: “I can see your mouth corners turning down…being nice to people you hate is phony. All right, Miss Pure Motives, have it your way-but in my opinion, a business office is not the place to discriminate between the worthy and unworthy recipients of charm. You can draw the line in your personal life if you wish, although I never do. (I positively slather over the milkman to get certified raw skim milk delivered to my door, and he looks more like a tugboat than a dreamboat.)”

And How Exactly Can We Be More Charming?
“If you can sum up what charm is,” she writes in Sex and the Single Girl, “I think it’s total awareness.” But before you give her a hard time for flirting with the milkman, consider this: Her charm is a mode of kindness. It’s not reserved only for people we have romantic designs on, but people to whom we are listening. “A charmer has her antenna up and valves open at all times. With sensitive radar she detects what the other person wants to hear and says it. And she senses what he doesn’t want to hear and refrains from saying it. … This particular charmer, so accomplished she should package it, puts everything in terms of you. You would have loved it. You would have fainted. In describing a gown she saw at the opera she says it was a little deeper than your red velvet coat. She remembers what you told her last time and asks questions this time. The charmer, like the flirt, reacts to what you say. And she will give you all afternoon to say it.” See, isn’t that nice?

Talent is One Thing, But Hard Work Is Everything “I hope I have convinced you the only thing that separates successful people from the ones who aren’t is the willingness to work very, very hard.”

“Beauty Can’t Amuse You, But Brainwork — Reading, Writing, Thinking — Can.
A famously restrictive dieter, Gurley Brown appeared fully made-up and turned-out whenever someone snapped her photo. She never thought of herself as a beauty and considered her 5’4″ 100-pound frame five pounds above her goal weight, according to the New York Times. But a sharp mind, ambition, and a vivacious spirit kept Gurley Brown full of life. “What you have to do is work with the raw material you have, namely you, and never let up,” she said.

You Can Have It All
We know where she would have stood on the “having it all debate.” “Love, Success, Sex, Money–Even If You’re Starting with Nothing,” proclaims the subtitle to Gurley Brown’s book, Have it All, published in 1982. “Nearly every glamorous, wealthy, successful career woman you might envy now started out as some kind of schlep,” she said. In Gurley Brown’s case, even as a self-described “mouseburger” (“A physically unprepossessing woman with little money and few prospects”) with acne, we find that impossible to believe. Even then, she undoubtedly knew how to work her inimitable powers of charm to get what she wanted.


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