Not Pretty Enough : The Unlikely Triumph Of Helen Gurley Brown
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A bold and deeply researched biography of a complicated cultural icon When Helen Gurley Brown published Sex and the Single Girl in 1962, it sold more than two million copies in just three weeks, presaging the self-help boom and helping to usher in the unapologetic self-affirmation of second-wave feminism. Brown declared that it was okay, even imperative, to enjoy sex outside of marriage; that equal rights for women should extend to the bedroom; that meaningful work outside the home was essential for a womanÆs security and self-esteem. The book catapulted her into national renown, cementing her status as a complex and divisive feminist personality. And the ripple effects of her outspokenness about sex and her emphasis on friendships between women can still be seen today, on TV shows like Sex and the City and Girls, and in the magazine world as well. When she died in 2012, her obituary appeared on the front page of The New York Times, which noted that ôthe look of womenÆs magazines today . . . is due in no small part to her influence.ö She may not always have been lovedùbut she was always talked about. BrownÆs life storyùa classic American rags-to-riches taleùis just as juicy as her controversial books. In this wonderful new biography, the writer and reporter Gerri Hirshey traces BrownÆs path from deep in the Arkansas Ozarks to her wild single years in Los Angeles, from the New York magazine world to her Hollywood adventures with her film-producer husband. Along the way she became the highest-paid female ad copywriter on the West Coast, and transformed HearstÆs failing literary magazine, Cosmopolitan, into the female-oriented global juggernaut it is today. Full of firsthand accounts of Brown from some of her closest friends, including Liz Smith, Gloria Vanderbilt, Barbara Walters, and others, as well as those whose paths she brushedùher 1939 prom date, a sorority sister from business school, Cosmo cover girls like Beverly Johnson and Brooke Shieldsùand writings from the woman herself, Not Pretty Enough is a vital biography that shines new light on the life of one of the most incomparable and indelible women of the twentieth century.