How would you like to be called fat in front of the entire readership of The New York Times? Doesn't sound fun, does it? But that's exactly what happened to Jenifer Ringer (at left), who dances the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in the New York City Ballet production of The Nutcracker. Dance critic Alistair Macaulay said she "looked as if she'd eaten one sugar plum too many."
Horrible, right? Especially since Ringer has talked openly about her battle with anorexia and compulsive eating, and was actually forced to leave the NYC Ballet after she gained some weight. If her video promoting The Nutcracker is any indication of what she looks like, she's gorgeous and not fat even by dance standards.
But amidst all the rampant douchbaggery of this story, there's one very sweet part: It was Ringer's now-husband, fellow dancer James Fayette, who brought her back to the dance world. He asked her to appear with him in an upstate New York production of The Nutcracker.
She was very overweight at that point, and tried to beg off. But he encouraged her to do it, so she got back in shape and performed.
Ringer told Working Mother magazine that "James sweetly looked at me with eyes that were not the eyes of the dance world. He was a real friend to me."
I love this. Women drive themselves crazy trying to appeal to men. But the right man, someone who truly loves you, sees your beauty no matter what. When the outside world picks women apart for the tiniest flaws -- and especially when that world is the dance world, where achieving the fluid and graceful line of a dancer's body pushes women into eating disorders and worse -- being seen for who you truly are instead of just as a particular size body is incredibly empowering. For Ringer, that meant accepting her body, rediscovering her love of dancing, and then finally losing the weight ... and her triumphant return to the NYC Ballet after having a daughter with Fayette.
All the snippy dance critics in the world can't take away that kind of confidence ... and it's something that will last far beyond a dance career.
Was the dance critic out of line for calling a very slim dancer fat? Jumping on all the Black Swan chatter about women and weight, should ballet dancers be held to a different criteria?
Image via New York City Ballet