On this day last year, I learned that my imaginary fairy godmother Helen Gurley Brown passed away. Though she's departed this world for the great editor's suite in the sky, her words of wisdom still live on. In fact, I keep two of her best-selling advice guides -- 1962's "Sex And The Single Girl" and 1982's "Having It All" -- on my nightstand. And I'm not even single anymore.
Though some bits of advice are, shall we say, a bit retro (putting one's age on a resume, or the suggestion that Alcoholics Anonymous is a great place to meet men), the bulk of her wisdom still rings true. Especially regarding one's apartment, which Gurley Brown considers a combination of a stage, boudoir and gymnasium.
First, let's just admire Gurley Brown's apartment, which was located in The Beresford, a tony building on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
Flickr photo by Devyn Caldwell
Of course, we trust anyone who makes it into such luxurious surroundings.
Here's Gurley Brown's advice/argument for turning your apartment into a gorgeous place, from "Sex And The Single Girl."
A chic apartment can tell the world that you, for one, are not one of those miserable, pitiful single creatures. When your name comes up in the conversation, people will say with far more glowing admiration, 'That girl has the most divine apartment!' than they will ever say, 'That girl has the most divine husband!' One is something she created. You must value yourself in order to be successfully single, however, and you must sincerely believe you deserve beautiful surroundings, otherwise you're apt to put up with something dreary.
Think of yourself as a star sapphire. Your apartment is your setting.
Yes, Gurley Brown is speaking to a single "girl." But I feel like this quote, at its heart, is the perfect summation of why many don't bother to even paint a wall, much less decorate. Subconsciously, we might feel that we don't deserve much more than particleboard and shoddy construction. Or, we feel transient, that whatever life stage you're in doesn't need to be surrounded by lovely things. Beauty matters, though. There's nothing more life-affirming than seeing a glimpse of a gorgeous flower, a framed photo of loved ones, or even a deliciously cushy pillow.
As a tribute to Gurley Brown, let's start valuing ourselves enough to indulge in something nice.
For the legendary Cosmo editor, everything had subtext. Get ready to have a breakthrough.