Body Talk

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Eddie DeVaughn, 45

Publications analyst, Wells fargo securities/fitness instructor, mac harbor east

The first time I really noticed I had a great body was around the age of 17. I had these strong, chiseled abs—and one day I looked in the mirror and thought, ‘Damn, I look good!’ But as you get older, it gets harder to maintain. Life can get messy. I went through a rough patch about 20 years ago when I gained 70 pounds and my doctor told me I was at risk for having a stroke. I was so nervous to go back to the gym, I didn’t even remember how to work the machines. Now look at me. I can teach two or three classes in a row and have the privilege of inspiring people every day. But I always remind my students, I’m not superhuman. I’ve been where they are—and there are still days my body lets me down. But if you operate from your heart—loving yourself and others—you can always get your groove back. I’m living proof of that.

Kim Manfredi, 49

co-founder, charm city yoga

When I was 18 years old, I fell out of a window and broke my back. From my very first class five years later, I recognized the potential for healing that yoga offered. It is working with balance, strength and flexibility. All of those things are so integrated with healing the whole self.

My first teacher taught me meditation techniques, too, which turned out to be incredibly valuable. Because, let’s face it, once you can fold your body in half, if it’s just about getting to the place where you can do that, what’s going to keep you there? The mind needs to be part of the process, too. You can’t talk about the body without talking about the mind—as well as the spirit. … It’s been said you can only go so far in knowing yourself when you explore through the body, and you can only go so far when you explore through the mind. But together, there’s this great back and forth.

Jen Seidel, 44

body painter/ makeup artist and daughter claudia walsh, 16, high school student

Claudia: When you’re in high school there’s so much pressure to look the way you think everyone else thinks you should look. And even if people think you’re perfect, there’s always something about yourself that bothers you.

b>Jen: What bothers you? Be honest.

Claudia: I don’t know.

Jen: I do. Your boobs! They’re all going after the padded bras, and then they see me, who’s had her breasts done twice [after my kids]. It makes them think, ‘Mom has that. Maybe that’s what I should have, too.’

Claudia: Some of my friends my age want a boob job. I’d probably do it. Maybe in my 20s.

Jen: She also wants a tattoo and a belly button ring.

Claudia: Maybe I’ll wait until after kids because that’s when you start to go downhill. Lately I’m like, I’d like to accept it the way I am. People think there are more things wrong with them than there actually are. My friends will tell me, ‘My legs look funny.’ Or, ‘My butt looks funny.’ It really doesn’t. Things stand out to you more than to other people.

Jen: That’s the first time I’ve heard this! To hear her say that is great. But a belly button ring? You’re only 16. I say wait until you’re older, get to know who you are and then do it.  … I don’t judge her, but I’ll say no to things. But if she can give me a damn good reason of why I should say yes, I might consider it.

Claudia: So, what would be a damn good reason for a belly button ring?

Jade Greer, 32

owner, K Staton, plus-size boutique, Hampden

I like to joke and say I came out of the womb plus-sized. By third grade, I was a size 12. Around middle school, I noticed that I wasn’t as popular with the boys as the smaller girls. The boys would come over to my house and play all day—but they’d only hold my hand in private, not in front of their friends. It didn’t make me mad or sad. It was just puzzling to me because I knew
I was cuter and way more fun than the other girls! By high school, I really started to own my curves. I knew how to dress my body—and every time I walked into a party, I rocked it. I’ve carried that spirit into my 20s and 30s. And I actually met my husband on the dance floor of a club. That takes confidence! My philosophy is: If you’re going to be the biggest girl in the room, you might as well be the brightest. And I love helping other women find that inner light.

Gideon Connelly, 23

aircraft technician, air national guard

It was July 5, 2011. A car cut me off and I swerved around it. My motorcycle went down. Then it hit the curb and flipped and landed on top of my leg. I ended up breaking my arm, my right knee, fractured my pelvis and lost my left leg below the knee.

It took me six months to fully recover and walk. I decided I wanted to start running. I ran long distance in high school, but I thought I’d try sprinting since it’s a lot easier. I started jogging, then running. I got a coach and now I’m trying to qualify for the Paralympics. 

Since the accident, I’m more compelled to drive people, inspire them. I’ve been mentoring people at Kernan (Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation) Hospital, trying to get their hopes up, telling them how I came through. I want to go to Walter Reed and rehab fallen veterans. Just get out there and show people that just because you lost a leg or lost an arm or are paralyzed or whatever it is, you can’t give up. You gotta keep going. Like what happened with me. I was only 21. What was I going to do, give up the rest of my life?

Lindy Lord, 67

retired pediatric nurse

Probably in my late 40s or so, life was busy with everything else and I wasn’t getting the exercise I wanted to. I was a mom with four kids and I felt kind of frumpy. My youngest son was a runner, and one day on my walk, I started to run. So I ran a block. And the next day, I said, ‘I’m going to run to the mailbox. And then the maple tree.’ I started doing it every day and it felt good. By the time I was in my 50s, I ran the Baltimore marathon. Now I run 4½ miles three or four days a week, swim laps and work out with a personal trainer. 

These days, I feel really good about my body. I guess I don’t feel like I’m 67—whatever that’s supposed to feel like. I don’t feel the way people used to look at 67-year-olds as being those ‘old, sitting-grandmother types.’ I do remind myself that that day will come, but not yet!

Jill Mull, 40

fundraiser, Tyanna Foundation, breast cancer survivor

Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was like most women and was very insecure with my body. I couldn’t have picked a favorite body part, but I could easily list the parts I didn’t like—hips, butt, you name it. Somehow, fighting cancer gave me a sense of humor about it all. Partly I was inspired by my twin boys, who were 5 at the time I was diagnosed. They naturally struggled with the changes I was going through—trying to understand why the ‘medicine’ made me sicker and lose my hair. I had to laugh when my one son announced before my mastectomy, ‘My mommy is throwing away her cancer boobies and getting new ones!’ Today I do fundraising for the Tyanna Foundation, whose cheeky slogans (like ‘Save the Girls’) remind people that good health and good humor go hand in hand. Trust me, cancer is not funny—and it’s certainly not a magic cure for body issues. But I’ve learned to appreciate that having a healthy, functioning body is what’s most important in life, not whether I look good in a pair of jeans.

Athletic wear courtesy CITY SPORTS, Harbor East
Hair and makeup by Jill Turnbull, assisted by Kira Dolan, for No Worries Salon & Cosmetics, Towson

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