Fairy Tales and Fat Jokes
I promise, this blog isn’t going to turn into HatredForAnyoneWhoEverCalledAnyoneFatInPrint.com. But I couldn’t let Alastair Macaulay’s sour take on the New York City Ballet’s current Sugar Plum Fairy pass without opening it up for discussion.
A little background: Macaulay, a ballet critic for The New York Times, reviewed City Ballet’s current production of The Nutcracker at the end of last month. He liked it, but pointed out that Sugar Plum Fairy Jennifer Ringer “looked as if she’d eaten one sugar plum too many.” The body critique extended to Jared Angle, who dances the part of the Cavalier; Macaulay wrote, Angle “seems to have been sampling half the Sweet realm.”
When readers wrote in to complain, Macaulay penned another piece defending his position. Ballet is all about bodies, he argued. If you can’t handle the scrutiny, toss your toeshoes in the trash for good.
Then, Ringer appeared on Today on Monday, talking about the controversy. The ballerina, who has previously discussed her history of anorexia and compulsive eating, handled questions gracefully.
“As a dancer, I do put myself out there to be criticized, and my body is part of my art form. At the same time, I’m not overweight. I do have, I guess, a more womanly body type than the stereotypical ballerina. But that’s one of the wonderful things about, actually, the New York City Ballet is we have every body type you can imagine. We have tall, we have petite, we have athletic, we have womanly, we have waiflike. I mean, we have every body type out there, and they can all dance like crazy, they’re all gorgeous. And I think dance should be more of a celebration of that, of seeing these beautiful women with these different bodies all dancing to this gorgeous music, and that’s what should be celebrated.”
She added that she doesn’t want an apology from Macaulay. I’d add that she shouldn’t get one; what he said, though silly, is well within his realm. Critics often write things artists don’t like, and then everyone moves on.
But I’m interested in hearing what you out there in Haul nation have to say on the matter. I’m probably a little biased. As a “bigger” group fitness instructor, I have often run into people who can’t believe that I have the physical ability to lead a class in a challenging workout. Then we spend a sweaty hour together, and minds are changed. Given my experience, it took very little time for me to wholeheartedly jete onto Team Ringer. And I’m also wondering why no one’s up in arms about the comments made about Angle, a question Macaulay also raises in his rebuttal. Is it because Angle’s a dude? Do weight cracks not matter, or are they more easily dismissed, when they’re made about men? I’m all over the place, faithful Haulers. Leave comments and give me some guidance. What say you?