This week, I’m talking to makeup artist, model and entrepreneur, Cindy Joseph.
At 49, Cindy decided to stop dyeing her silver hair because she wanted to show women that aging wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. The day after the last of her dyed hair was chopped off, she was approached on the streets of NYC to do an international modeling campaign for Dolce & Gabanna. No biggie. She’s been modeling ever since, and even launched her own what she’s dubbed a pro-age makeup line called Boom by Cindy Joseph. I talk to her about why she actually loves getting older, why women need to stop combatting their fear with makeup, plus how to be beautiful at any age.
You can listen to our conversation on above media player or iTunes, or read a transcription below. Options!
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Thanks for joining me on the podcast, Cindy! I wanted to talk to you today about a lot of things, but mostly about this dirty little word called aging. I think it’s a thing a lot of people, especially women, fear.
Cindy: Oh, no you said the word! You said the word!
I know. I’m sorry. I said the word. Tell me a little bit about how you became like a pro-aging guru.
Cindy: I started enjoying my age and telling people about it.
I’m allowed to ask you how old you are, correct?
Cindy: Absolutely. I am 64 and a half years old.
Cindy: Thank you, thank you. And I say that obviously a little tongue in cheek, you know, just to make people aware the fact that — or remember how we used to celebrate our age. I’m 7 and three quarters. I’m gonna be 13. We were so excited and we counted the days until we became 21. And then we just started rockin’ and rollin’ and having a blast, and somewhere around 29 we stop telling our age.
Oh, yeah. I sobbed on my 30th birthday. It was just sort of like, “Wow. I am a real adult.”
Cindy: Yeah. Being a grown up means responsibility. And we all like to shirk our responsibilities from time to time.
Oh, definitely.You have kind of interesting story of how you came to age acceptance. You’ve been in the beauty industry for a very long time, and you’ve even done a lot of modeling. I feel like those are two industries that seem very anti-age.
Cindy: Right. Well, it’s our entire society. And, you know, there is history to it. For women, it really goes all the way back about a hundred years when we were valued only for child bearing. We were sold to our husbands by our fathers. We couldn’t vote. We couldn’t work. We were around to have children that could serve the family.
Well, that all changed. A hundred years ago can seem like a short time away and it can seem like a long time away. And we are now valued for many, many things far beyond childbirth. Yet, we still have this piece that tells us if we look like we’re in our child bearing years, that’s when we are the most valuable. Women’s currency is base on their looks.
That’s all make believe. It’s something that society created and we’re moving out of, slowly but surely… You don’t need to go marching the streets and yelling and screaming and saying, “We are valuable our whole lives.” It’s a matter of realizing and valuing ourselves for our entire life.
When women that start valuing themselves at every age and wearing their age proudly and showing how passionate and fun sexy and exciting life continues to be, people notice. They start seeing that gray hair as silver. They start seeing those crow’s feet as beautiful age lines that reveal the vulnerability and the beauty of a woman.
I decided to enjoy my life for the rest of my life. And so, I was seeking and looking for more positive view points about [aging]. And having gone through different personal growth workshops and schools etcetera, I collected a lot of information about living life.
At one point, I bumped into a group who were not only celebrating their age, but the women were being celebrated. It’s like, okay what that about?
Was this in the United States?
Cindy: Yeah. This is — this is in the US and I am now living with all of those people.
Cindy: Yeah. So, they just did a bunch of research. They’re a bunch of young hippies back in the 60s and decided to live in a commune [and still do!]. They met the changes that came with group living after growing up in a society that was all about two in a box, the nuclear family of the 50s. They had to confront a lot of things that you don’t have to confront when you’re living alone. And through that, they learned a lot about themselves and each other and what being human is all about. And one of the things that they discovered is that women are pleasure-oriented creatures living in a success and production-oriented society.
Interesting. So, what does that mean exactly?
Cindy: Well, a production, success and goal oriented is more on the trajectory of the way a man functions. Men are more linear and women are more random. We have hormonal cycles and men have stable hormones. They described all these differences [between men & women] and said we’re more alike than we are different. But those differences do make a difference and the way we’re socialized is hugely different. So when I heard pleasure-oriented I just — I started thinking about what it felt like to grow up as a female in a male-oriented society. I always felt like I was a square pig trying to be push into a round hole.
I didn’t feel good about myself because I didn’t think I was disciplined enough. I wasn’t focused enough. I could never decide what I wanted to be when I grow up. I just wanted to play and have fun… Now, that can sound a little frivolous and kind of superficial on one level. But it pleasures me to care for people. It pleasures me to live in a happy society and, you know, things that are more important bring pleasure as well as things that are, you know, more mindless and frivolous and…
Right. You’re not living like a Jay Gatsby party goer everyday for the rest of your life.
Cindy: Yeah. And, you know, whenever anybody chooses is the right thing. I really think that people are perfect just the way they are, and that how different as part of what’s so entertaining about relating with others.
The more I approved of myself, and the more righteous I felt about who I was as an individual, as Cindy Joseph as well as a woman. I started playing and thought, “You know what, this makeup and fashion stuff is actually fun.”
That’s what I think — I was looking on your website and you had something on there about the thinking of makeup is fun and instead of thinking of makeup is a way to deal with your fear and insecurity.
Cindy Joseph: Exactly. So, you see the girl walking down the street. She’s dress to the nines, perfect makeup, perfect hair and she looks miserable. She looks uncomfortable. She’s having a hard time walking in those five inches heels, and you know she’s doing everything she can to be attractive and it’s not working.
And then the next one walks by. Her hair was greasy, you know, maybe she got a couple of pimples on her face and she’s certainly not dress to go to a party, but she is just attract along and smiling. Maybe listen to an ipod and singing along and you can’t take your eyes off of her. Because the joy she’s experiencing makes her attractive… if you are enjoying yourself and being true to yourself, you emanate the pleasure you’re experiencing. And that’s what’s attractive.
Absolutely. And I think that does lend itself really well to a different way of thinking about beauty as we age, because, you know — what do you think it is joy like the best form of makeup there is?
Cindy: I found this quote and it was like it popped out of the universe and said exactly what I was realizing and that is, “Taking joy in living is a woman’s best cosmetic.” And, you know, having been a makeup artist– I just wanted to give a little bit more history that– I got back into makeup and all that because it was fun, and that’s what was motivating me rather than the fear that was motivating me previously. I decided to get in the game, the very game that I had rebuild against. It’s kind of like working underground.
So here I am this — you know, legitimate experienced makeup artist. I had the credibility. So people listen to me more readily. So when I told them the truth about beauty and attractiveness, etcetera, they listen to me because I had the credentials.
When I was ready to leave the business I had to have this, you know, discovery about my pleasure oriented essence and was enjoying that. And just really rockin’ and rollin’ and enjoying my life and I was approached my a casting agent and asked model at age 49 with silver hair, cross feet and a whole ball of wax, and to me that was absolute proof that what I was discovering was really true.
And I’ve been modeling ever since and that was 15 years ago.
Later, I decided to launch the cosmetic line. That was all sparked by a question from a young man who said, “Why don’t you create a makeup line? I mean you’re this makeup artist for so long, 25 years and now you’ve been modeling doesn’t make sense?” And my first response is, “We do not another tube of lipstick. Not in this world!” But then I started thinking about it and it was days later I popped out with this idea of a pro age cosmetic line. Because every other cosmetic line since the beginning of time has always been anti age.
What’s different about what you’re creating than most things on the market?
Cindy: Most cosmetics are design to fix things that are wrong. We are convinced that we have flaws. If your face is square it must be shaded and highlighted and contoured to be oval. If your face is — any other shape as is in oval, you got to get it to oval because oval is the perfect shape face… We are just bombarded with products to alter the way we came out.
When I started my blog, I did a challenge where I went a week without makeup and…
Cindy: Okay. Okay, wait a minute. Before you go on we have to talk about that. That is brilliant. What inspired you to do that?
I mean, it just sounded scary to me quite honestly. And I’m not even a big makeup person, you know, but I would wear definitely mascara and like some sort of bronzer or blush or something. So I decided to see what happen if I went a week without makeup and I think — and nobody noticed. Nobody cared.
Cindy: Because everybody has their attention on themselves. They’re so worried about their own eyelashes and makeup.
Exactly. It’s so funny. And then, what’s funny is by the end of the week I started seeing my face differently. I started becoming more used to what I looked like without makeup. Ever since, I pretty much only curl my eyelashes now. And sometimes I put on some blush or fill in my eyebrows a little bit, but my skin looks so much nicer. I mean noticeably nicer.
Cindy: Yeah. Isn’t something — you know, skin is alive. Powder is deadening. It — there’s no life there. There’s no circulation there and foundation, people always want to make their skin evenly toned. Well, when you put it on you make your skin an even color, but you kind of kill the life that’s in your skin.
I think so often people think, “Oh, if I don’t put on my face I’m letting themselves go.” It’s not like you also have to not shower or look your best. You don’t need to also wear sweatpants.
Cindy: Yes. Well, being healthy and — is — being well groomed is a part of being healthy. Getting your nails, you know, buffed and polish and, you know, taking that little extra effort primping is really celebrating yourself and what you look like. Taking care of your hair, taking care of your skin, it’s a different category that actually adding on and making up etcetera and that can be really fun too. I mean if I’m going to a party to a really fun, celebratory party, I’m gonna throw on a little more color and a little more posses just because it’s fun.
Cindy I have one last question for you. A lot of the messaging in our world is about all the things that get worst as you get older. But what gets better?
Cindy: Everything! Okay. So, let’s just look at the signs of it and the logic of it.
And, you know, this graph of life we’re given looks like a mountain and we’re told that we have a prime of life. Well, if we have a prime and we have a peak that means everything goes down hill from there. And I and all of my peers have proven that it’s not true that the largest percentage of your life after you peak at 30 or 35 is downhill from there.
We have proven that it gets better and more. So take that mountain and turn it upside down into a V. We’re born at the base of V and life expands. We become more. You cannot take away educations, skills, wisdom, experience, soft knowledge, you can only add to that. So you become better as you age rather than worst.
I am healthier now than I was when I was 18. I am now 64. I can climb 14,000 foot mountains. I can run. I can play tennis. I can do all of those things. And we’ve just got this idea in our heads. It’s been drilled into us so heavily that we go out to pasture after we’ve hit our prime. And it’s all make believe we can just toss it in the garbage.
We are living longer and we want to know that our future that there’s hope, and that we’re going towards something positive rather than something negative. And we knew that when we were 13. We knew that life was gonna get more positive by the time we got to be 21. Well, ask people that look happy, that look like they’re living passionate, healthy, happy lives who are in their 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond. And you will discover that there is so much to look forward to.
And in terms of women and beauty, at every age comes another kind of beautiful. We don’t have the beauty that we have when were new born. We don’t have the beauty that we had when we were toddlers or adolescents. That goes away, that disappears. You let it go and you grab on to the new beauty that comes with every age. And I guarantee you that attitude going forth with enthusiasm and passion, and knowing that you are right and life is right.
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