Saturday, October 12, 2013

You Need a Great Big Woman

That is the name of the first song I ever heard by the blues singer, Candye Kane. (Here's a link to that song ...okay, you just heard it for the first time, how great was that?) It was her mantra, I believe, because she was, at that time, a great big woman. She helped me a lot in my quest for body acceptance. I also liked the fact that she said to "work what you've got, whether it's a little, or a lot", because that, of course, is the message of body acceptance--to work what you've got and love what you've got. I loved all of her music, including the very raunchy songs. This is partly because I am, in fact, very raunchy myself, and also because she was very clear on the facts that 1. big woman can be sexy 2. big women can like sex and 3. big women deserve as much sex as anyone else. Which was always my attitude, along with, all you need to be sexy is to believe you're sexy. So I believed. And loved her music. Then something happened....around five years ago, Candye Kane was diagnosed with a form of pancreatic cancer. It's clearly not the death sentence kind, because I just saw her live last night, but one of the affects of that cancer was that she lost about half of her body weight, in what I think was a very short time. Last night when I saw her, and let me just say right now that her voice is magnificent (and even that sells it short) and her spirit is indomitable, but physically, she's just a little bit of a thing. She fits more closely into the stereotype of the attractive woman, being thin, slight, a bit fragile. But I have read things she's written and she's quite vocal about a few things that are decidedly not conventional wisdom. First thing she says is (and I paraphrase greatly here) damned good thing I was so fat. Because if I hadn't been so fat, I probably wouldn't have survived at all--I needed all the resources (fat) my body had to offer. The second thing is, I don't like being thin! I liked being fat. I liked how my body felt and I liked how my skin felt...and I was healthy then and I'm not now. So that's interesting, right? That someone who lost one half of her body weight (wow, they could put her on the cover of "People", in one of those articles, because hey, she lost half of her body weight, without surgery) can be NOT HAPPY about it. That someone who used to be FAT (like fat, fat, the water rat fat) can miss that. And that she can attribute her very survival to that fat. Interesting because NO ONE (maybe outside of Africa) is supposed to think that way. Thin is better, and hey, if it took cancer, then it took cancer. Interesting because you're not supposed to miss the fat when it's gone. As I said to my trainer, after another one of our "why aren't you losing weight" conversations (yes, we have them) I know we're all supposed to be throwing confetti and blowing up balloons when we lose weight, but...maybe not. Maybe not. I actually like the changes in my body that are coming about because of my working out. I like that I can tense up my leg and it's muscle, from the top to the bottom, almost without exception. I never minded being bigger, but I minded being jiggly and the jiggly is going away. I like the way I can feel my muscles when I move, I mean feel them under my skin, sliding away, contracting and relaxing...I like that. I like feeling stronger and I like feeling though more of what constitutes me is muscle--but my goal is not necessarily to be either light, or thin. The first notes of "Great Big Woman" settled into my soul that night, and stayed there. Her words settled into my soul and stayed there. I suppose the take-away from her music, but also her life, is that you do indeed need to love what you've got, no matter what it is, because it is there to serve you. Love yourself. Everything else flows from that.

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