When a friend messaged me with the news of the death of Cindy Joseph, I was shocked and saddened.
The New York Times reported this week that Joseph, 67 and more recently living in Cold Spring, had passed away July 12 from soft-tissue sarcoma.
I had spent time with Joseph back in 2012 at her then-Yonkers home for a WAG profile, a memorable interview with a kind, funny and spirited woman.
Photographer Bob Rozycki and I were invited to Joseph’s home, which was a rambling 19th-century building in Yonkers on a hill above the Hudson River.
Joseph, a longtime makeup artist in the fashion industry, became a model herself when “discovered” at age 49 on a Manhattan street. She was, certainly, living a life that defied expectations.
She was outspoken. She forged her own way – from being a self-described “total, absolute, by-the-book California flower child” to becoming a true beacon for anyone who struggled with the concept of aging.
As she blurted out, unasked at the time, “I am 61-and-three-quarters years old. Every moment of my life has been important.”
Her modeling career paid homage to her physical beauty, including her striking silver hair. But it also made many pause to consider the very concept of beauty – and the long-held belief that it had to fade with age.
Age, she told us, was simply a part of the glorious life she was living.
“It’s not time to accept it,” she said. “It’s time to celebrate it.”
And she did that through national ad campaigns for companies such as Dolce & Gabbana; work for clients such as Banana Republic and Macy’s; and the launch of BOOM! By Cindy Joseph, a cosmetics line focusing on highlighting a woman’s natural beauty.
All, she said, reflected a lifetime of observations in the fashion industry – and beyond.
“I realized being photogenic was really about feeling good in your skin, not being self-conscious. …By the time I was 49, I was like, ‘This is me. Take it or leave it.’”
Back when we first spoke, she was about to do one of her local appearances and explained what she wanted to share with other women.
“I want women to realize their own value, because that’s when others will value us,” Joseph told me.
Words to remember from a woman who lived a life that continues to inspire.
– Mary Shustack