First published in 1886, Cosmopolitan was known as bland and boring with a slipping circulation. And then Helen Gurley Brown (author of the 1962 book Sex and the Single Girl) became chief editor in 1965 and reinvented the magazine as a magazine for modern single career women.
The new Cosmo was bold enough to put sex and the single girl firmly on the agenda. It reflected the times and discussed subjects people hadn’t publicly discussed before – such as how to achieve the perfect orgasm. It made women think and men blush.
In 1972, a British version was released with Joyce Hopkirk as the first editor. It was heralded as a female version of Playboy, cost 20p and was an instant hit with British women. They had never seen anything like it before.
Liberated and glamorous, the Cosmo cover girl made a statement to its readers.
The magazine deliberately avoided famous faces, believing that with unknowns on the cover every girl reading would look at the picture and mentally visualise themselves as the ‘Cosmo Girl’
Today, there are 64 worldwide editions of Cosmopolitan, and the magazine is published in 35 languages, with distribution in more than 100 countries making it the largest-selling young women’s magazine in the world.