Charlie Chaplin said that the basis of all comedy is truth.
I was warming up with other adult dance class students when in walked THIS VISION! She was drop-dead gorgeous! All heads turned; gasps of awe rippled through the room followed by worshipful silence as she took her place amongst us. I reflected upon my physical shortcomings as I gazed into the mirror. The music started and I couldn't help but look at her, just to catch a glimpse of beauty in motion. And...she moved like a clod! A smirk burst across my face, my heart was light and my toes twinkled. I was a virtual Karen Kain in comparison. I felt beautiful.
At that time I was drawing bodies in motion for my portfolio to submit to Sheridan College's International Animation Program as part of the application process. I had drawn yogis in postures of all kinds, fencers, tai chi students and decided to go to the local swiming pool as they had a viewing window below the water line and I thought that would give an interesting vantage point.
I was surprised to see a very obese woman teaching children swimming. I admired her courage to be seen in a bathing suit. As I drew her I began to appreciate that her proportions were model perfect. And, when she demonstrated on the deck she moved with grace, precision and clarity. The children oblivious to her size, adored her and responded enthusiastically to her love of swimming. In the water her 300 pounds seemed to dissolve away as she swam mermaid-like - fluid and lyrical and when she surfaced the children clung to her and bobbed around her like eager little ducklings. She was absolutely BEAUTIFUL.
After some time of incubation just the right words came to me for the cartoon and it was time to draw it. When I put pencil to paper it was her image that flowed onto the page. Though I am a small person, she was the perfect embodiment of how I felt and also the best body to depict grace and joy of movement.
(Cartoon copyright Nance Thacker 1985. All rights reserved.)