Helen Andelin

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Helen Andelin
Helen Andelin.jpg
BornHelen Lucille Berry
(1920-05-22)May 22, 1920
Mesa, Arizona
DiedJune 7, 2009(2009-06-07) (aged 89)
Pierce City, Missouri
Alma materBrigham Young University (home economics)
University of Utah
SubjectFeminine enchantment
Notable worksFascinating Womanhood, 1963
SpouseAubrey Passey Andelin (1918–1999, m. 1942)

Helen Berry Andelin (May 22, 1920 – June 7, 2009)[1] was the founder of the Fascinating Womanhood Movement, beginning with the women's marriage classes she taught in the early 1960s. Controversial among feminists for its advice toward women's fulfilling traditional marriage roles, her writings are still supported and re-discovered as recently as 2016, with classes still being taught online and in seminars.


Early life[edit]

The year 1920 saw the birth of daughter Helen to Dr. Herbert and Mrs. Anna May Berry of Mesa, Arizona. Helen was the youngest of seven children in this Latter-day Saint (LDS) household. In her teens, she worked in a malt shop and at her parents' hotel. She graduated from Phoenix Union High School and attended Brigham Young University, where she majored in Home Economics.[2]


At Brigham Young University, she met and married Aubrey Passey Andelin, son of Aubrey Olof and Gladys Passey Andelin.[3] Aubrey graduated from the University of Southern California School of Dentistry and practiced dentistry in Central California for many years. The Andelins became the parents of eight children, four sons and four daughters. Their names are: Lane Berry Andelin, Brian Berry Andelin (deceased), Dixie Andelin Forsyth, Kristine Andelin Hales, John Berry Andelin, Virginia Andelin Leavitt, Paul Berry Andelin and Merilee Andelin Saunders.

Fascinating Womanhood[edit]

Andelin wrote the book Fascinating Womanhood in 1963 to correspond with the marriage enrichment classes she taught in Central California. She sold approximately 300,000 copies from her garage through a publishing firm she and her husband founded, Pacific Press. She based the classes and her book on a set of pamphlets that had been published in the 1920s, called "Fascinating Womanhood." The classes started with an enrollment of eight women and grew to the point that around 1,500 women taught Fascinating Womanhood classes worldwide.

Fascinating Womanhood spawned a grassroots movement. Going against the "second wave" feminist tide of the 1960s and beyond, the classes and book focused on women being traditional wives and mothers. The classes continue to this day in countries including the United States, Japan, Australia, Mexico, South Africa, and the Philippines.

The first online Fascinating Womanhood class was held in 2000-2001[4] by a woman from Kansas, Mrs. Franky. Additional online teachers have served over the years. Discussion groups exist on the Internet and in live venues.

Eventually reissued in several editions, Fascinating Womanhood (also known as "The Book the Feminists Love to Hate") has sold over four million copies, and has been translated into Spanish, French, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Polish and Russian. Random House issued the latest edition of the book in February 2007.[5]

Andelin hosted a website where she gave advice on marriage and motherhood.[6]

Other books by Andelin include The Fascinating Girl, a book addressed to single women, which was originally published in 1969 and remained in print as of 2007; and All About Raising Children, published in 1980. Andelin also designed The Domestic Goddess Planning Notebook to help women keep their busy lives organized.

Andelin made many media appearances over the years. She was interviewed by Michael Douglas, Larry King, Phil Donahue, Hugh Downs, and Barbara Walters. She appeared in the March 10, 1975, issue of Time magazine, in an article called "Total Fascination".[7]


Although many women believe that Fascinating Womanhood has helped their lives, the book's teachings remain controversial. It emphasizes traditional femininity and a wife's conditional obedience to her husband. It also teaches women to embrace a feminine appearance and mannerisms, which some feel is strange behavior in todays' world. Some conservative Christians who generally support Andelin's teachings disagree with her ideas concerning sexuality in marriage and the behavior of wives. More than one author has indicated that Andelin wrote her book in response to Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique,[8][9] though that would have been impossible, since Fascinating Womanhood took four years to write and came out the same year that Friedan's book was published.

Later life[edit]

Andelin began her online presence in 1998. It appeared that the death of her husband in 1999 took a significant emotional toll on her, causing a conspicuous absence from interaction with the public.[citation needed] However, she returned to the world of Fascinating Womanhood about a year later, convinced of the necessity of her message.

In 2006, the Helen B. Andelin Papers were donated to the University of Utah, where they remain housed in the Marriott Library Special Collections.[2]

Andelin died at her daughter Virginia Leavitt's home on June 7, 2009, in Pierce City, Missouri. She was survived by eight children.[10]

Fascinating Womanhood is now led by Helen Andelin's daughter, Dixie Andelin Forsyth. Dixie has written a sequel to her mother's book "Fascinating Womanhood for the Timeless Woman", due out in the fall of 2018. In addition, she has updated her mother's original books, as per her request before her death, with Vintage editions of each.


External links[edit]