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Lynn's Story:

I was an overweight kid, from the time I hit puberty until around 20. Rather than get taller, I grew, well, horizontally lol. BUT I was an avid fan of Marvel comics. I loved reading about the superheros, in particular, I LOVED the way the women looked. I didn’t realize it until my late teens, but I wanted MUSCLE.

My mom’s uncle knew how I felt and ordered me a Charles Atlas book from the newspapers*(you have to be ancient to know this, but he started the muscle trend before Arnold). And so, I’d play around with different exercises. I weighed 220 at my highest, as a senior in high school, and after having my daughter, Stephanie, my friend’s brother, who ran track, introduced me to vegetarianism. I started writing everything I ate down, cut out sugar, only ate natural foods*(my folks helped as everything we ate was made from scratch), cut out red meats (which I didn’t like) and started walking. I lost 100 lbs in 9 months.

Flash forward 8 years and now I’m in Houston and really got the bodybuilding bug. I started training in earnest and did my first show at 30 (taking 5th) and stayed in the sport til this day. I returned to Ohio in 95, met my late husband, Steve Davis, who had won his IFBB Pro card as a bodybuilder the year before. After a blind date, we married 6 weeks later. We had an incredible almost 20 years until I lost him to cancer.

I threw myself into training even more after he died, had my r. hip replaced, and 8 months later got back into competing again for him- as he never did get to compete in his ‘last’ show. In 2016, I did 4 shows, took 1st in May, 5th at the Kent show (Northcoast), and took the overall in the last show that year (Great Lakes Championships)- in an open division, against girls in their 20s on up. I was 56 at that time. Since then, my goal has been even more pronounced- to make women see that you don’t HAVE to settle- for anything. A relationship, a job, your lot in life…you can make changes but it has to start with your HEAD.

It’s taken me years to learn to like myself, and after finally being in a relationship where someone not only supported me but loved me unconditionally, I realized that. I took over some of his clients in personal training after he died, got recertified and now do training part time in addition to my ‘real’ (as in, pays my bills) job as a claims specialist. I love teaching women how to love themselves, to learn and hone their talents, to ENJOY life in spite of the nay-sayers, and to be healthy- physically and emotionally. If I’ve learned nothing else in life- it’s way too short to let other people determine how we feel. Age means nothing and God didn’t make garbage- you ARE worth it.

What makes me nervous about getting portrait taken:

Nothing, really. I have nothing to prove, I’ll be 58 in a few weeks, and if I have to be here without my soulmate, there’s obviously something I’m here to do. I’m kind of like Popeye, “I ams what I ams”. Pictures don’t lie. You are MORE than welcome to share my images

What do I love to do that makes me feel kick ass?

Several things- picking up heavy things and putting them down – I LOVE training. It’s freeing mentally and physically demanding. It gives me some sense of control in a world where you control nothing. My 2nd favorite thing is when I can make someone see something in themselves that they did not know they had or could do. THAT’S the most rewarding thing I can think of.

Inspired my portraits? I

’ve been shooting with Jen for a few years now, mostly related to bodybuilding. Always wanted to do a portrait shoot, and want to do an outdoor one – preferably near the lake. I loved the widow’s shoot we did and this one was more free for all fun.

What badass women inspire me?

First two, my maternal grandmother & my mom. Grandma was a force unto herself and mom is pretty much the same. Strong women. Got things done, great fashion sense (on a budget too!) and overall nice people. The second would be shout outs to some of the women in my sport – Tammy Mauceri- (wife of my coach)- who competes herself in figure, yet has the time to work full time, be an incredible mom, and wife to a very busy pro competitor. THAT takes talent & patience; Caitlyn Jaras- who just turned pro herself a few years ago. Not only an incredible athlete but an incredible person as well- she represents the sport in a very positive way.

Lastly, the other widows I’ve met who lost loved ones early on – the way they continue on a path that no one can fully understand until you’re there.

Any other comments?

When it seems the darkest, always remember there is light somewhere, and that light is meant for you. Never give up on yourself

Jen's thoughts:

I met Lynn after her husband passed away. She was getting ready for her first big body building competition and she wanted pics. Before she told me her story, I knew something was up. She seemed so vulnerable, but also fighting to be strong. If that makes sense...

We took her portrait in various body building poses while we talked. She told me about her husband and why she was getting ready to compete.

Over the next year or so we took more pics. Mostly for body building purposes, but we'd occasionally throw in something artsy. Every time we took pics, it was less body building and more Lynn expressing herself. Which I loved.

Our "bad ass" portrait shoot had no body building poses. I didn't even think about it until I started editing the pics. I realized how excited I was to take pictures of Lynn. Not just her muscles, but all of her.

When I started thinking about this project and body positivity, I thought of Lynn right away. Because body positivty isn't just for fat girls like me. It's for thin women, muscluar women, all the body types!

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