Reading Matters

Helen Gurley Brown bio – ‘Aw pippy-poo’

I was still in college in 1962 when, in the space of three weeks, more than two million women bought Helen Gurley Brown’s “Sex and the Single Girl,” which proclaimed that women’s rights should extend to the bedroom and to the workplace.

I doubt I was among those women. Soon after I graduated, I married, and weeks later, I began teaching high school in the deepest of the Spanish moss-hung Deep South, a land where an unmarried woman after the age of 22 lied about her age, and where a married teaching couple could not go home for lunch because “it looked funny.”

Now with journalist Gerri Hirshey’s “Not Pretty Enough: The Unlikely Triumph of Helen Gurley Brown,” I can go back and see exactly what I missed.

I’m not sure I like Hirshey’s too-breezy writing style (”A bad feminist? A traitor to her sex? A retro geisha? Aw, pippy-poo, as Helen would say.”) But I do like the prospect of digging into this 500-page bio of the woman the New York Times said that, though she died at age 90 (in 2012), “parts of her were considerably younger.”