These two chapters on ‘Your Face and Body’ and ‘Clothes’ pack a punch (although the black eyes Helen refers to it in are from her plastic surgery.) Helen starts us off on the topic of beauty by beating us down, but she’s going to build us back up right? Well. . . let’s not get our expectations up.
“It starts early, our getting the idea – possibly because it’s true! – that we aren’t pretty.” Buckle up, by the end of this chapter you’ll feel that same way you used to after watching an episode of America’s Next Top model; confused, sad, and full from binging on chocolate. Read More
After Helen’s last chapter on diet, I expected this one on exercise to be full of unhealthy and near-neurotic advice and anecdotes – and it was, but I was also surprised to find how much I agree with some of the things Helen had to say on the topic. And given that we share similar childhood experiences when it comes to sports and fitness, I even felt a little bond growing between us as I turned the brittle, yellowed pages of ‘Having It All’ (which incidentally I still don’t). Read More
Helen tells us that “It is unthinkable that a woman bent on “having it all” would want to be fat, or even plump.” Helen and I are both 5'4 and according to her, I am 31 pounds overweight. By her definition, I'm not cute or sexy. I disagree. Now prepare yourselves, because this chapter only gets worse - “Do you like fat men? Of course not. . . [and] you ought to be suspicious of men who say they like fat women. Those men want mothers, at least a comfy, cushiony, sofa-pillow girl to sink into and hide out in.” And worse. Read More
“Why, really, should you listen to or do what I say?” It's as though Helen is reading my mind. As a response she tells us about the time that she was visiting Martha’s Vineyard with her husband back in the late 70’s when she “saw a rather pretty girl – twenty-two perhaps,” sun tanning on a dock. “She had a nice body, long legs. . . I studied her – the face isn’t as good as the body, I decided. . . nose a little big, eyes a little small, mouth a bit thin. Nice girl, nothing special.” Helen wondered if this poor disadvantaged girl would have a chance with any of the rich and famous men who frequented Martha’s Vineyard. “She would have a chance as a hanger-on, I decided . . . a little cookieburger that one of these men might take on for an evening.” But Helen knew that if she had her chance to impart her wisdom that this girl could “have her man – a good and “heavy” one . . . as well as a place in the sunshine which will make people listen to her and not reject her because she looks only okay but not great.” Read More
Last spring, I was perusing a selection of books at a thrift store when the word Mouseburger caught my eye on the back cover of Having It All – written Helen Gurley Brown and published in 1983. I wondered what the fuck a Mouseburger was – is it something that Tigers eat or is it a tiny burger that mice eat? Moreover, I was intrigued by what ‘having it all’ meant over thirty years ago and what women were willing to do to get it. The fact that someone had already expelled it from their personal library made me wonder if they had achieved the promise the title made or been horribly lead astray by it. So, I spent the $0.99 – a bargain from the original $4.99 cover price – and took it home. Read More