The timeless beauty of Cindy Joseph
Photographs by Bob Rozycki and courtesy Cindy Joseph
It’s still generally considered impolite to ask any woman her age.
But then Cindy Joseph isn’t just any woman, which you quickly realize about the laid-back, personable and, yes, beautiful, fashion model.
During a visit to her artfully eclectic 1898 Yonkers home perched above the Hudson River, Cindy offers up her age without even being asked.
“I am 61-and-three-quarters years old,” she proclaims. “Every moment of my life has been important.”
Cindy’s perspective is downright refreshing to anyone struggling with the concept of aging.
“It’s not time to accept it,” she says. “It’s time to celebrate it.”
She is a shining example of second – and third – acts that offer a renewed sense of life’s possibilities.
After more than 25 years as a makeup artist for the fashion industry, Cindy was “discovered” at age 49 on a Manhattan street, the start of a modeling career that not only capitalizes on her gloriously silver hair but continues to defy long-held beliefs about beauty being confined to youth.
And if that weren’t enough, Cindy translated that high profile into a third career by launching BOOM! By Cindy Joseph, a cosmetics line that focuses on highlighting a woman’s natural beauty.
Not bad for “a total, absolute, by-the-book California flower child,” as Joseph describes her younger self.
THE EARLY YEARS
Growing up outside San Francisco – where she and her girlfriends would catch a bus to attend shows featuring Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane and Cream – Joseph was a cosmetics junkie until a dramatic turn in 1969.
“I was addicted to makeup when I was in high school,” she says. “I would wear two pairs of eyelashes. …Once I let go of that I was totally the other way. I was anti-beauty and fashion. …How I ended smack in the middle of the fashion industry in New York City is amazing.”
Over time, Cindy realized that she could celebrate beauty, individual and natural, by doing makeup for local photographers. A pivotal assignment with photographer Oliviero Toscani, in San Francisco to work with Esprit de Corps, provided all the advice and inspiration she needed.
“The way to get to New York from a small town in America, to have credibility, was to go to Europe and work for a year or two,” Cindy says. A three-year stint in Paris allowed her to settle in New York where her signature – a natural style that capitalized on a woman’s individual strengths – earned her steady work with celebrities and supermodels such as Cindy Crawford.
Next came what Cindy casually calls “the modeling thing.” Being approached by a scout for Dolce & Gabbana led to a campaign with a renowned photographer that would launch countless assignments.
“It was a tearsheet from Steven Meisel,” she says. “It was a ticket.”
Still, she was shocked that as a 5-foot-7 49-year-old, she was even considered, since she long thought models had to be “18 years old, 18 feet tall and be 18 pounds.”
But Cindy indeed was model material, signed by Ford Models Inc., which led to work with clients ranging from Macy’s to Sundance, Banana Republic to J. Crew and so many more.
At first bemused, one day she says she realized, “Oh, duh, boomers want to see themselves in ads.”
By that point in her life, she had the confidence to pull it off.
“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.’”
PRO (STYLE) CHOICE
Along with modeling, she was able to realize a longtime dream when she launched her own cosmetics line, BOOM! By Cindy Joseph, some two years ago.
“They sell a lot of makeup because of our fear of aging,” she says of the industry.
BOOM! would be different, something that “didn’t tell women they had to fix anything. …You’re right exactly the way you are. What cosmetic line does that?”
Cindy says she’s supports a woman’s choice to do whatever she wants to herself – to color her hair, for example, if she does it for herself, not to please others.
“When it comes from fun and pleasure, I’m all for it,” she says.
Her makeup, she adds, is designed to bring out the beauty that women show when they are enjoying life. “I always say if you’re working out or making out, if you’re dancing or romancing.”
In brief, her line features natural ingredients and her signature BOOMSTICKS, in Color, Glo and Glimmer, and BOOMSILK moisturizer offer women of all ages products that bring out a natural color, moisture and sparkle.
As Cindy juggles new BOOM! products, modeling assignments, a weekly video blog and travel, she finds herself called on more and more to talk about what she calls the “pro-age revolution.”
She takes part in activities involving an organization called Silver Sisters – “to show the world how gorgeous silver can be” – and was interviewed by Jane Pauley at AARP’s Life@50+ convention in New Orleans in September.
Cindy, mother of two grown children, is often accompanied by her fiancé, Bruce Kocher, as they promote the cosmetics line across the country.
“BOOM! is our baby. BOOM! is the hungry baby,” she says with a laugh. “When are we going to get around to having a wedding when the baby is screaming all the time?”
ON THE ROAD
This month, she will be speaking and showcasing her cosmetics at Terri Optics in Dobbs Ferry, where she is also a customer.
Optician Teresa Gelsi says she first recognized Cindy from Eileen Fisher ads. The women got to chatting, with Gelsi now a BOOM! devotee.
She’s expecting a great turnout since whenever Cindy stops by, it causes a bit of a stir.
“Whatever middle-aged woman is in here, all the time, they get a girl-crush on her,” Gelsi says with a laugh.
It is Cindy’s accomplishments and her message that resonate with her and other women, Gelsi says.
“I need role models. I’m 55. She’s a little bit older than I am. She can be my role model.”
But Gelsi notes that two of her team members, both in their 20s, are equally excited about Cindy’s appearance, “so it’s that ‘trickle down.’”
And that’s exactly what Cindy is all about – getting women of all ages to acknowledge, address and embrace aging.
“I want them to keep that conversation alive. I want to keep it going. I want women to realize their own value, because that’s when others will value us,” Cindy says.
And she says the next generation can be inspired as well.
“What great news for young people to hear: ‘Guess what? It gets better.’”
Cindy Joseph will be speaking and showcasing BOOM! By Cindy Joseph from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Nov. 8 at Terri Optics, 468 Broadway in Dobbs Ferry. For more details, call (914) 693-0035. For more on Cindy Joseph and BOOM!, visit boombycindyjoseph.com