Helen Gurley Brown, editor of Cosmopolitan magazine from 1965-1997, died last month at the age of 90. Author of the scandalous 1962 book Sex and the Single Girl, Brown kept a pillow in her office that read "Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere." When critics of her style said her message wasn't feminist, she replied, "How could any woman not be a feminist? The girl I'm editing for wants to be known for herself. If that's not a feminist message, I don't know what is."
As a teen, I remember sneaking copies of Cosmo (forbidden in a Catholic household) under my mattress like some kind of bubble gum Maybelline lip gloss porn. Everything I ever learned about sex either came from the 1969 book Everything You Ever Needed to Know about Sex that my friend had stolen from the library and we'd memorized (pencil illustrations of penises and all) or from the glossy, perfume-spritzed pages of Cosmo.
So the other day at the airport while buying gum and water, I couldn't help but pick up the latest issue of Cosmo. It's hot pink and black cover features Zooey Deschanel, who I've had a girl crush on since Elf, and the headlines screaming "12 Love Moves That Turn Him to Mush!" and "78 Crazy Hot Sex FACTS: they'll Knock Your Panties Off" and "Orgasm Guaranteed: Tricks That Really Work for Women" ensured I at least wouldn't be bored. No mention of the death of Helen Gurley Brown on the cover, although there was a two-page spread on the inside.
So what did I learn from the October issue of Cosmopolitan? Here's a summary.
1. Forget girl crush. I would happily quit being straight, jump the fence, and play for the home team for Zooey Deschanel. She's charming, adorable, and nerdylicious.
2. From the “12 Love Moves That Turn Him to Mush" article: getting readers to contribute things to articles is an overused method of filling the pages of Cosmo for free. Lame.
3. I need new clothes (especially adorable Ralph Lauren plaid shirts). And shoes. Well played, Cosmo advertisers!
4. From the "Ask Him Anything" column: Guys like watching your boobs jiggle during sex. Also girls write to this column to ask how to handle it when their boyfriends want oral while driving, as they are concerned about safety.
5. From the "78 Crazy Hot Sex Facts" knocking our panties off article: a woman's odds of climaxing increase as she ages. Also, having frequent sex can make you feel as happy as earning an extra $100,000 a year. (Define frequent, and we’ll decide.)
6. Holy shit. COACH HAS A NEW FRAGRANCE? It's my one girly brand indulgence. I love Coach everything. The sample of "Poppy Blossom" has been unfolded, rubbed all over my wrists, smells fucking delicious, and will be a Christmas gift to myself this year (1.7 oz. spray $65).
7. I need new shampoo. And face cream for wrinkles. And under eye concealer. Well played, Cosmo advertisers!
8. From the "Orgasm Guaranteed" article: There is a girl fake-named Julie who can only have orgasms with her vacuum cleaner. Jesus.
9. The font you use apparently says a lot about you. Of the selections, I prefer Georgia, which allegedly means I am "practical and take charge." People who still use Comic Sans are assholes.
10. Cosmo is written for women in their 20s, not their 40s (which is why I usually read More magazine, though it has far fewer blowjob tips.)
Showing my age, I probably enjoyed the two-page “10 Commandments of Helen Gurley Brown” piece best. I guess because I’m far past my 20s, and also because she is someone to be remembered.