The art of criticism
Defending the "fat" ballerina critic
The 37-year-old dancer has battled anorexia and compulsive eating throughout her career and initially declined the role in the Christmas ballet due to weight gain.
Ringer took the blow with grace, saying the comment hurt initially, but that it is part of being a professional in a field that demands perfection.
She told MSNBC, “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 am not overweight.”
An equally articulate Macaulay defended his article, “Some correspondents have argued that the body in ballet is ‘irrelevant.’ Sorry, but the opposite is true. If you want to make your appearance irrelevant to criticism, do not choose ballet as a career,” Macaulay wrote in a piece published Dec. 3.
“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,” Macaulay continued.
He also mentioned that no one took offense to his criticism of a male dancer’s weight, and few readers had a problem with his attack that Ringer lacked brilliance and danced “without adult depth or complexity,” a much more scathing insult in his opinion.
So who’s in the right — the performer with the damaged ego or the journalist? According to the American public, Macaulay should be crucified. Angry readers hurled insults at the writer, calling him a “misogynous arrogant parasite” and telling Macaulay to try to dance half as well as Ringer. While calling a girl with food issues fat deserves an eyebrow raise, insisting that the critic attempt the ballet himself is ludicrous.
Critics criticize. They’re employed not for their riveting performances but for their ability to analyze and judge a performance’s merits.
I’m reminded of a much ruder instance: Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift’s VMA acceptance speech. While his words stung, they ultimately furthered the starlet’s career and made her appear calm and resilient in the face of a cutting criticism.
Maybe Ringer's ballet career will receive a boost from her own grace under sugarplum fire.