Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2011. After a spirited battle with cancer, Cindy Joseph, visionary founder of BOOM, a pro-aging cosmetic line, and a former Experience Life columnist, passed away on Thursday, July 12, 2018.
I come from a lineage of women who hardened themselves to survive in a man’s world. My mother was practical. She kept me safe, clean, fed and busy with fun things. I grew up, however, without the feminine exchange I longed for from her. Looking back, I see that I made sure I always had many girlfriends — that’s how I quenched my thirst for the feminine connection I did not get at home.
When I was a teenager, I was painfully self-conscious and focused mostly on my appearance. I held my bangs down in the wind for fear that people would see my forehead, which I judged as too big. I sat on my hands because I was once told I had masculine fingers. I spent hours on my hair and makeup before school. I did whatever it took to look like the models on the magazine covers, wearing foundation, powder, blush, eyeshadow and two pairs of fake eyelashes every day. I helped my girlfriends do the same thing. We were all hiding behind a facade of beauty products, and I often wondered how I would keep my future husband from seeing the real me if I ever got married.
Little did I know, I was developing skills for my future career.
During the summer of 1968, I went through a huge transformation. I was living in the heart of San Francisco and my peers and I began recognizing the hypocrisy of society’s dictates. We searched for new ideas and lifestyles that we could relate to. I threw away all my makeup and beauty products, most of my wardrobe, and anything that was not natural, authentic and honest. I even stopped shaving my legs and underarms.
A few years later, my rebellion softened and I found a happy medium. I realized I could honor my interest in beauty, and still be genuine and natural.
But once I started working with professional models, my self-esteem was confronted once again: I still had heavy negative judgment about my appearance (though it was far from the extreme I went through during puberty). It was difficult to spend days with these girls and feel good about myself, though I definitely enjoyed many aspects of working with a team to create a beautiful image. I knew deep down, however, that there was more to attractiveness than shiny hair and big eyes.
I realized that models did not come through the door looking like they did once we spent hours transforming them. So as I became more familiar with the concept of ideal beauty and worked closely with the girls who the world deemed the most gorgeous, I could see that surface beauty was only fleeting. Once I got to know the models, I could see that they were only attractive when they were happy, kind and loving themselves. I saw they were the most beautiful when they were truly enjoying their lives. I was no longer intimidated by their “package.”
I was a makeup artist for over 25 years, and during that time I married, raised children, traveled the world, and learned more and more about myself. After years of taking myriad transformational workshops, psychology courses, and classes on human nature, I started living my life according to what pleasured me.
And once again I recognized that when a woman is taking joy in her life, she is her most radiant and attractive. Her beauty has nothing to do with the size of her nose, her height or the shape of her body. A woman’s beauty is in her ability to experience pleasure.
So it was not until I was in my 40s that I started discovering all that being a woman is about. When I started living according to what pleasured me, my persona changed. When I started feeling “right” for who I was rather than thinking I had to fix something, or change in some way, others took notice. That is when I was recognized on the street and asked to model at age 49.
Honoring that most innate part of my feminine nature is what makes me most attractive.
I am now 60. I have found that the riches in life are all around me if I allow myself to notice and appreciate them by following my spirit. There is no external place to find what I carry right inside.
Aging is really just another word for living. Life continues to be a magical and fascinating adventure. My passion, my feelings, and all that I am are intact and functioning. The concept that aging is becoming less in some way is really the antithesis of what happens. One becomes more and more as life continues.
I am always and forever in the “prime of my life.”