Helen Gurley Brown Still Alive & Kicking; Still Hates Her Muffin-Top

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Helen Gurley Brown, former Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief and a walking billboard for extended lifespan through calorie restriction, is the latest subject to tackle Vanity Fair magazine's Proust Questionnaire. In the most recent issue of the magazine, the scary-skinny, bobble-headed Cosmo Girl (she reportedly continues to oversee 59 international editions of the magazine) proves that she's still at it with the body-dysmorphia. When asked by Vanity Fair what she most dislikes about her appearance, Brown — whose 1962 bestseller Sex And The Single Girl schooled women on matters pertaining to everything from bedroom romps to beauty ("keep an almost bare cupboard") — answered "My fat tummy".

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And then this, just 4 questions later:

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I'd get my tummy to be flat again.

Ugh - is she really still worrying about a fucking paunch 15 years shy of her centennial? Then again, maybe we're being a little too judgmental. After all, Ms. Brown is said to have freed women sexually, making blowjobs mainstream before they were, well, mainstream... and now all the liberated 13-year-old girls are giving them!

Proust Questionnaire: Helen Gurley Brown [VanityFair]
Related: The Ultra-Extreme Calorie Restriction Diet Test [NYMag]
Helen Gurley Brown [Wikipedia]

DISCUSSION

By
Karen Vaughan

Am I the only one who finds this snarkily classist? Having grown up on both Ms. and Cosmo, I have to applaud Brown for being sex positive (including lesbian sex positive) long before mainstream feminism was. She stressed hard work over the privilege of education and always put career on top. She wielded (and still wields) real power unapologetically. You may disdain big hair and cleavage, but at a time when Twiggy was the anorectic model de jour, she pointed out that men actually liked women who were larger than fashion models and that one should play up whatever assets they had regardless of the fashion. To the tyrants of "good taste" she pointed out that men were more likely to respond to anything a woman did to enhance her looks, regardless of style because it showed the women was interested in attracting men (for fun and power). Sure her style was more pleasing to the working class secretary than the Smith graduate, but that is where she came from.

Brown could not have made the same revolutionary progress that other parts of feminism did, but she laid the groundwork for young women, regardless of class or education, to achieve in the workplace and the bedroom. After the stultifying 50s, that was revolutionary.