Given a continuous map $f:S^1\to \mathbb{C}$ from the unit circle to the complex numbers, one can form its Fourier series $\sum_{n=-\infty}^\infty a_n\exp(in\theta)$. I want to stick with those $f$ that give simple closed curves, bounding a closed topological disk, going round the disk in a counter-clockwise direction, and parametrized proportional to arclength. I am happy to add the hypothesis that $f'(t)$ is a continuous function of $t$ and that, for $t\in S^1$, $|f'(t)| = 1$.

Is it then true that $a_1\neq 0$?

If this is true, is $|a_1|$ bounded away from zero as $f$ varies? It may be that some other normalization might make the second question more tractable: for example, instead of normalizing the length to be $2\pi$ by a change of scale, as I have done above, one could require that a disk of unit radius be contained in the disk bounded by $f$. Any such normalization of $f$ would be highly acceptable.

I'm motivated by trying to describe the ``space of shapes'' in the plane, by using Fourier descriptors, a topic of interest both in machine vision and in microscopy in biology.