NY Times Critic Says The Sugar Plum Fairy Is Too Fat

As we know, Natalie Portman, who was nominated for a Golden Globe this morning for her role in “Black Swan,” was tasked with losing 20 pounds to play the role of a prima ballerina. Well, according to the Times dance critic, Alastair Macaulay, there’s another ballerina who should embrace a similar weight loss regimen. In a recent review of the New York City Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” Macaulay had this to say of Jenifer Ringer, who played the Sugar Plum Fairy: “[She] looked as if she’d eaten one sugar plum too many.” Ringer, now 37 years old (and much, much smaller than an average woman of her age, for what it’s worth), has been public about her battle with anorexia and bulimia early in her career, and appeared on the “Today” show yesterday to discuss Macaulay’s stinging remarks.“I’m not overweight,” she said. “I do have, I guess, a more womanly type than the stereotypical ballerina.” Of Macaulay’s comment, for which she has declined an apology, she said: “It’s his opinion. He is a critic and he’s paid to put his opinion in the paper.”

Not everyone has been as diplomatic as Ringer. Wendy Whelan, a principal dancer with the NYCB, said:

“It’s just unfair when somebody criticizes a part of you that you can’t change. Jenifer has always looked like that. I think she’s absolutely gorgeous! She’s one of my favorite dancers in the world. And when I watch her dance, my eye doesn’t see anything wrong with it.”

And readers of the New York Times have been highly critical of Macaulay’s comments, too. But in response to one reader who called his remarks “appalling, heartbreaking, childish, hurtful and incompetent all at once,” Macaulay wrote in a follow-up column:

“If you want to make your appearance irrelevant to criticism, do not choose ballet as a career. The body in ballet becomes a subject of the keenest observation and the most intense discussion. I am severe — but ballet, as dancers know, is more so.”

Yikes. I’ve never been so happy I “retired” my ballet shoes in fifth grade, after four years of dance class. [via New York Times]