NY Times critic Alistair Macaulay took Internet flak recently for a catty comment about dancer Jennifer Ringer’s size in his recent review of The Nutcracker. Ringer, who suffered from anorexia earlier in her career, danced the role of the Sugarplum Fairy in the Christmas ballet classic. Macaulay noted in his review that she “looked as if she eaten one sugarplum too many.”
The jab was meant to highlight the fact that Ringer is not the customary pipe-reed thin that ballerinas are expected to be. She is, in fact, a healthy weight for her height.
Ringer herself is not angry with Macaulay and hasn’t asked for an apology, and he hasn’t given one. However, Macaulay’s criticism of Ringer, who chooses not to exemplify what some see as the scary-skinny expectations women in entertaiment professions are expected to maintain, ignited a firestorm of comments condemning him.
Macaulay attempted to defend himself in a follow-up column, citing his own weight struggles and the fact that dance is a physical medium where appearance is relevant and fair game for critics.
But should it be?
Average is the New Fat
Ringer herself notes, correctly, that she is by no means fat and that the athletic nature of her art requires her to be healthy and fit, which is something she found she couldn’t do when she was extremely thin.
Her dilemma is an extreme example of what it is to be female when unrealistic standards of weight and beauty are increasingly considered “average.” When unhealthy is promoted subtly–or not–as normal, than what is truly healthy is distorted for everyone.
What Do You Think?
What should, or even can, be done about the unrealistic weight and physical attractiveness expectations that are required of women – and increasingly men? Let’s hear your stories and ideas.
Photo credit: The Nutcracker by Jan Smith