February 2, 2014

Love Your Body: Featuring Neza Calderon

Chicana Heavyweights & Their Allies, a Panza Pictorial of Panza Positive Women

This February we turn our focus to the body - Love Your Body month. We will feature a Panza Pictorial highlighting some women we consider Panza Positive Role Models. This week we turn the spotlight on musician Vaneza Calderon. We chose Neza because there is something pretty bad ass about a Chicana that plays the guitarrón, don't you think?

Neza reading The Panza Monologues, 
Second Edition in Los Angeles

Vaneza Calderón began her musical journey at the age of 11 in her hometown of La Puente, California. Since joining the professional mariachi circuit at the age of 19, Vaneza has played in celebrated venues throughout the United States. She has participated in prestigious theatre performances as well as playing the mariachi bass, the guitarrón, in an eclectic mix of worldly genres. When she is not playing music, she is making strings.  As a team member of Guadalupe Custom Strings, she is one of the only women string makers in the US who produces and plays her own strings.


Vaneza Calderon
Los Angeles, CA

I am Vaneza Calderon. One Z, no Ss. A product of Aqua Net, dirt roads and Juan Gabriel records. Put me in a room with everyone, include their mom, and I guarantee we’ll all get along. I believe that life is too short to not see the positive in the darkest of days. I envision a bountiful future for those who believe in goodness. Music is my fuel. Being a folk musician nurtures my soul’s desire to carry the musical roots of my heritage. The simple action of bringing a sweet musical memory into someone’s life is the reason I feel blessed to call myself mariachi. I’m a chick, and I play the guitarrón. Big, loud, bass guitar. The vibrations of each note on my panza make me feel one with the music. I feel my music, literally. 

I come from a long line of women who don’t conform to fit expectations. I’ve had great role models who have taught me that gender plays no role in your destiny. If you want something, work hard and you’ll get it.

I believe that dreams do come true and that love really exists. 

What do you love most about your body and why?
I love the fact that my body does not fit a mold.

What is one piece of Panza Positive advice you wish someone would have given you when you were growing up? 
I wish that someone would have told me that we are not all created physically equal. It's okay to be who you are. People don’t always look like the people in your community. The world is huge. What may be beautiful to one person could be the complete opposite for another. You create your own beauty; don’t let others decide what is beautiful for you. Shine the beauty that feels right from inside. When you do that, you’ll please yourself. Which is the most important thing.

What Panza Positive advice do you have to share? 
Panza Power is special. Don't use it a lo pendejo. 

What is your favorite quote from The Panza Monologues book?
“You see, well ya I guess you see, I am a big woman.  That’s why I spell Panza with a “z” not a “s” cuz it takes up more space.  I’m a big woman goddammit.”

When I read this, my life made sense. My name has been spelled with a single Z since I was born. My sister named me and chose a Z instead so that I’d be different. Different than the Cabbage Patch Kid named Vanessa. A big woman, goddammit, indeed, that is what I am. It is me, this is me. Take it or leave it!

BUY your copy of The Panza Monologues book.

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