I remember the very first time I ever heard of Helen Gurley Brown. I was with my mom at Smithbooks (remember them?) and we were both looking through the bargain bin for books to rescue. I think I ended up buying some Babysitter’s Club volumes and my mom brought back a few books of her own – one of which was The Late Show, by Helen Gurley Brown. I had no interest in the book at the time because it was a self proclaimed “….survival plan for women over 50.” My 13 year old self said, no thank you!
A few years later, I was bored at home and looking for something to read, and so I picked up The Late Show. I started reading it..and I got hooked. Who was this amazing woman? Helen Gurley Brown – who grew up in modest circumstances, and worked as a secretary and assistant for decades before working her way up to being Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan for 32 years. The woman who created the idea of the “Cosmo Girl,” and so much more. Controversial, and with a habit of saying whatever was on her mind – Helen Gurley Brown will always be one of my favorite women ever.
Helen Gurley Brown was far from politically correct, but I believe she meant well in everything she wrote (except the random bits of gossip on some pretty famous ladies!). I wanted to share some of my favorite quotes of hers from the two books I own.
From I’m Wild Again:
On money: Money matters. Only a silly goose thinks it doesn’t. Money will be your friend when other friends have left town, will help you keep your dignity and have fun when you’re old.
On photographs for the 50+: Don’t send anybody over fifty a picture of himself or herself that isn’t flattering even if it’s the only picture he or she will ever have of himself on your Lake Minnetonka vacation.
On being chronically late: Unlike mammoth IQ, classic beauty, or athletic skill which one may or may not have been allotted, being on time is the courtesy of winners, something you can control.
On fashion: Clothes must fit. Somewhere, somehow, you must find someone who can sew and alter your clothes. Proper fit takes fifteen years off your age no matter what you wear.
From The Late Show:
On aging: You look quite decent headed for lunch or a party but an hour later, glancing in the mirror, you see you’ve “collapsed”.
On aging and beauty: On the subject of mirrors, you have to treat them, even at home, like alligators: Don’t surprise one.
I’m sure many of you know that Helen passed away on August 13, 2012. She was an inspiration and will be hugely missed. I hope all of you have a chance to read her writing – please do try! Rest in peace to a truly fabulous lady.
Some Helen Gurley Brown titles you may want to try: