First 'Cosmo' Girl Gone -- But Her Influence Lives On
It's fairly obvious that former Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown, who died Monday at the age of 90, was the precursor to "Sex and the City'"s Carrie Bradshaw, as Brown's New York
Times obit notes. She also wrote the revolutionary-for-its-time
book (1962) "Sex and the Single Girl," and her emphasis on "sex, sex, sex" (a word repeated three times in the obit's headline) in Cosmo's pages also "helped reinvent magazines" (as a photo
caption proclaims). "The look of women’s magazines today — a sea of voluptuous models and titillating cover lines — is due in no small part to her influence," writes Margalit Fox.
For a fuller appreciation of how Brown's heritage continues to resonate, the obit might have included a link to another Times piece that ran, perhaps prophetically, less than two weeks before her death, with the subhead "How Cosmo Conquered The World." "Through those 64 [global] editions, the magazine now spreads wild sex stories to 100 million teens and young women (making it closer to the 12th-largest country, actually) in more than 100 nations — including quite a few where any discussion of sex is taboo," writes Edith Zimmerman.
We loved Zimmerman's description of how current Cosmo editor Kate White changed Brown's message slightly: "Brown believed that it was O.K. to sleep with married men (it was their wives’ responsibility to keep them faithful, she argued), but White eliminated that from the formula. ('A total no-no,' she said.)"