Liberating because money gave women the financial independence to live their lives on their own terms. And Helen's experiences as a hardworking, ambitious career woman at a time when most working girls were relegated to low-level secretarial positions, and denied promotions and raises—think Mad Men—made her a relentless advocate for other working women throughout her time at Cosmo.
Despite the many roadblocks in her own career path, Helen kept on persevering, breaking through sexist barriers and finally landing a job as one of the first female copywriters in the advertising industry, before becoming a book author and magazine editor-in-chief.
Along the way, she discovered that "nothing is as much fun as achieving." A philosophy that Michelle Obama's been articulating to the female students she's been inviting to visit the White House since her husband's inauguration.
"The reigning philosophy at the time was that if you were female and not married by the age of 30, you might as well go to the Grand Canyon and throw yourself in," she has said. "If you were having sex and not married, don't bother with the Grand Canyon, just go to the kitchen, put your head in the oven and turn on the gas."
Helen knew "these ideas were cuckoo" and wholeheartedly believed that single women "were the least understood and most maligned minority group of all time."
She decided to change that perception with Cosmo, which she used to celebrate the lives of fun, fearless females. Now you may not think of Cosmo as being a feminist magazine, but Helen made it an advocate for having a life that you're in charge of—career-wise, man-wise and looks-wise.
I caught up with the still busy Helen Gurley Brown who, at 87, goes into her office every day and works diligently as editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan International.