Sex, relationship, career and beauty advice are at the heart of many women's magazines today, but that wasn't always the case. As late as the 1950s, many women's publications focused primarily on home life. Dr. Angelou talks with Helen Gurley Brown, editor in chief of Cosmopolitan magazine from 1965 to 1996, about her part in changing the face of women's magazines. Plus, Dr. Angelou talks with Marcia Ann Gillespie, former editor in chief of Essence and Ms. magazines, about her contribution to the industry.
From the late 1930s to the early 1960s, Helen worked as a secretary and then a writer for advertising agencies. It wasn't until 1962, when Helen was in her 40s, that she wrote the book Sex and the Single Girl and launched her career as a revolutionary in the women's liberation movement. The book encouraged women to be social, have a career and be financially independent. "I never planned to … lead a movement of some kind," she says. "I just simply said what I knew to be true."
After becoming the editor in chief at Cosmopolitan in 1965, Helen says she put beautiful women on the magazine cover and, on occasion, put nude pictures of men in the magazine as well. "The only thing I have ever done is try to use my common sense and I know what we all like to look at," Helen says.
While Helen was integral in bringing sexual issues to women's magazines, Marcia Ann Gillespie brought international women's issues to light when she took over as editor in chief of Essence in 1971. "If you bring a group of women from the world into the room in many different voices and accents, through many different lenses of experiences, we are talking about the same things," Marcia says.
Marcia continued her journalism career, focusing on women's issues, as editor in chief of Ms. from 1993 through 2001. Today she says she continues to work as a speaker and writer. "It's a pleasure when we have been given the opportunity to do the work we love," she says.