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Notorious Women: Helen Gurley Brown

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Cosmopolitan Magazine or The Bible, As Elle Woods so affectionately referred to it, has been a staple read for women since the 1960’s when the notorious Helen Gurley Brown gave the magazine a face lift.

Helen Gurley Brown was born on February 18, 1922 in Green Forest, Arkansas. She was later quoted saying “I never liked the looks of the life that was programmed for me-ordinary, hillbilly, and poor.” Her life would become everything but that.

After her education, Brown worked multiple secretary jobs to support herself and her family, eventually becoming the first female copywriter at the Los Angeles advertising agency Foote, Cone & Belding.

Brown made her mark when she published her first book Sex and the Single Girl in 1962, which became a national best seller. A book like this was out of the ordinary as it promoted the single girl’s sex life, a topic that was highly frowned upon.

The success of her book opened up an opportunity of a lifetime: to take over as editor in chief of Cosmopolitan magazine. The magazine had been around since the late 1800’s but was failing as a general interest magazine. Brown completely took over and changed the style of the magazine.

Under Brown’s jurisdiction Cosmopolitan became a magazine geared towards meeting men, losing weight, sex advice and advice on how to move ahead in women’s careers. Brown used unconventional photographs for her covers saying, “I like skin, I like pretty. I don’t want to photograph the girl next door.”

In 1997 Bonnie Fuller replaced Helen Gurley Brown as Cosmopolitan’s editor but Brown remained at Hearst publishing as Cosmo’s international editor until her death on August 13, 2012.

Under her reign Cosmopolitan was published in 32 different languages and distributed throughout more than 100 countries. Because of Brown, Cosmopolitan is considered the largest-selling young women’s magazine in the world.

Ally | Elite.

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