Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Life advice from Helen Gurley Brown


Helen Gurley Brown, the legendary editor of Cosmopolitan and a fearless advocate of sexual empowerment dubbed "the original Carrie Bradshaw," has died at the age of 90 in New York City.

Brown's 32-year tenure at the helm of Cosmopolitan changed the face of women's magazines forever as she drove home the message that women could have whatever they wanted, be it power, success in the workplace or sexual satisfaction.

Her 1962 best-seller Sex and the Single Girl taught women to embrace their desires (married or otherwise) and sold millions of copies worldwide, courting admiration and controversy in equal measure.

While feminists weren't always on-board with her views - especially those regarding how to please men - there's no doubt her aim to show women "how to get everything out of life — the money, recognition, success, men, prestige, authority, dignity," influenced entire generations, as well as popular culture in general.

A forceful champion of the joys of sex who paved the way for open and frank discussions, here are some of Gurley Brown's greatest quotes on all things life, love and empowerment...

Picture credit: Rex Features

"Don't use men to get what you want in life -- get it for yourself."

"Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere."

"I think marriage is insurance for the worst years of your life. During your best years you don't need a husband."

ABOVE: Helen Gurley Brown holding her book Sex And The Single Girl in 1964

"Nearly every glamorous, wealthy, successful career woman you might envy now started out as some kind of schlepp."

"A man likes to sleep with a brainy girl. She’s a challenge. If he makes good with her, he figures he must be good himself."

"Beauty can't amuse you, but brainwork -- reading, writing, thinking -- can."

"Never fail to know that if you are doing all the talking, you are boring somebody."

"Even if sex isn’t great every time, it's a unique form of communication and togetherness that can help you stay together with a good degree of contentment."

ABOVE: The legendary Cosmopolitan editor influenced millions of women

"One of the paramount reasons for staying attractive is so you can have somebody to go to bed with."

"You can have your titular recognition. I'll take money and power."

"Feeling insecure is good for you. It forces you to do something better, use all your talents."

"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."



50 essential feminist books


Revolutionary pioneers


The world's most influential women



“It’s distasteful and offensive”: Katie Piper slams Halloween make-up

The acid attack survivor and TV star spoke out about fake scars and disfigurements

by Moya Crockett
28 Oct 2016

The best A-list Instagrams from the week so far

From Cindy Crawford's Halloween throwback to Alexa Chung's wild adventure

by Nicola Colyer
28 Oct 2016

Is this the Nineties girl band reunion we’ve been waiting for?

We don’t think you can handle this.

by Moya Crockett
28 Oct 2016

Pussy Riot’s new single is pro-vaginas and anti-Trump

“The idea of powerful female sexuality is much bigger than any populist megalomaniac man.”

by Moya Crockett
27 Oct 2016

Mamma Mia! ABBA confirm plans to reunite for “live experience” in 2018

All four of the original Dancing Queens are on board

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Oct 2016

Bake Off’s Mary Berry on her TV reunion with Mel and Sue

The future for these GBBO stars is very bright indeed…

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Oct 2016

Lady Gaga fans, the full Carpool Karaoke video is beyond incredible

James Corden’s face says it all, really

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Oct 2016

Sorry Mel C, Little Mix don't want you to be their mum

You can be ours though

by Anna Pollitt
26 Oct 2016

This Instagram star's honest selfie has gone viral

A glimpse behind the filtered curtain

by Amy Swales
26 Oct 2016

The Alexander McQueen biopic just cast the perfect Hollywood star

Another British bad boy.

by Moya Crockett
26 Oct 2016