You Find "Fat Talk" in the Darndest Places…Even the New York Times

After reading this post on Jezebel this morning, I was moved to write a letter to the editor of the New York Times. Man, people are ignorant and thoughtless sometimes. The letter:

Dear editors,

I am a survivor of binge eating disorder and a long-time women’s health editor—I’m currently a deputy editor at Redbook, and have served as the health editor for both Glamour magazine and Seventeen. As such, I was incredibly saddened, and yes, a little angered, by Alistair Macaulay’s comment about dancer Jenifer Ringer’s weight in his November 28 review of the Nutcracker. It is widely known that anorexia and other disordered eating behaviors are rampant in the ballet world, as young women starve to be as thin as “necessary” to be acceptable on stage. (Even actress Mila Kunis recently commented on how much weight she had to lose from her already slim actress frame to play the role of a dancer in “Black Swan.”) Macaulay says that Singer, who danced the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy, looked as if she’d eaten one too many of the treats. Yet he goes on to say that she was one of the few City Ballet principals who danced like “a grown-up.” Perhaps that’s because she has the healthy, strong, well-trained body of a grown woman, rather than that of an adolescent?

The timing of his comment is made even more egregious and unfortunate in the light of Ms. Singer’s recent open and honest admission in Working Mother Magazine of her own struggles with compulsive eating and disordered behaviors that led to her leaving the stage for a few years. As the founder of a support site for girls and young women with disordered eating and weight obsession, I get emails and comments every day from young women all over the world stuck in a desperate cycle of starving and bingeing. And it makes me sad—so sad—that a respected art critic in a respected newspaper would stoop to a critique of a talented and able dancer’s shape rather than her obvious skill. I’m disappointed in Mr. Macaulay for making comments that only serve to further the depth of what has become a terrible scourge on dance, and on our society as a whole: eating disorders and weight obsession. And I’m disappointed in the Times for printing it.

Sunny Sea Gold

If you’d like to send a letter, the email address is [email protected] And as always you can share your thoughts below.

For help getting over hurtful things you read about weight, you might want to check out this post.

17 Responses to You Find "Fat Talk" in the Darndest Places…Even the New York Times

  1. Bravo! I missed that post on Jezebel.

    I have a love hate relationship with ballet. I love the art-how graceful and strong the bodies are. However, I hate watching shows knowing how much pressure dancers are to stay thin. I applaud Ringer with her dedication and wish I could go see her perform the Nutcracker.

  2. Wendy Pavlus says:

    Way to go Sunny! I had read a book about a ballerina(whose name escapes me now as I read it many years ago) who ate 1 apple a day. She cut it into 4 pieces and would stretch it out over a day. It’s criminal the expectations of an art form that brings it’s artists within a hairs breath of death. Good for you for telling this “critic” off!

  3. samantha says:

    thank you sunny—for sticking up for all of us. “f’ing ridiculous” are the words that escaped my mouth after reading the review. what is wrong with people? it’s been said you truly can change the world one step at a time (or something to the effect)….i hope your voice is heard loud and clear. i will write a letter too. it’s THAT important.

  4. courtney says:

    proud to be your friend sun

  5. Trish says:

    Sunny — good for you for writing!! That’s so hurtful. You know that girl was dying to read the review in the Times, and who knows what that did to her self-esteem. She should be proud of herself for dancing so well, though. I hope she somehow comes across this website and sees the positivity and the support, and that it helps if she is hurting.

  6. Chandra says:

    well said, Sunny.

  7. Hope says:

    Wow, thank you. There are some horrid things I would like to say to that man, so I’m glad you had the courage to write this, and even more glad that you have such a wonderful way with words :)

  8. Outrageous… I didn’t see the piece in Jezebel. What a well-written letter Sunny…I hope they print this.

  9. […] New York times. How would you feel? Thankfully Healthy Girl and many other blogs are writing great letters to the editor to advocate for Jennifer and the cruelty of […]

  10. I’m glad you wrote a letter. That comment was so mean and unnecessary. Also, I just can’t stand how much it trivializes the struggle with weight - she ate one too many of the treats? Like it’s that simple? That feeds right back into the idea that if only people’s willpower was a little stronger they would just “get over it” and that is such crap.

  11. Personally , as a ballet dancer myself who has struggled with numerous eating issues, I was disgusted by his insensitive remark. People have been saying that he just did his job, because ballerinas “don’t come in different sizes.” Have they ever heard of Misty Copeland? She’s got big boobs for a ballerina, as does Polina Semionova. Sara Michelle Murawski? She is “stereotypically” WAY too tall by traditional ballerina standards. Margot Fonteyn was not made like a ballet dancer in any sense. Misha himself was unusually short for a male dancer. To say dancers don’t come in different sizes is not only ridiculous , it’s incorrect. They are, after all, humans at the end of the day.
    Even if you have the same training and diet, your body could adapt and look differently than someone else’s, because YOU ARE DIFFERENT. Ballet dancers are not cookie-cutter plastic figures, or shouldn’t be. Individuality in performance and movement are two things that make this art so impressive . I actually wrote about this from a dancer’s perspective on my blog: It’s a little more intense than what I’ve written here, and I’d love to get some responses to it!
    Please read and comment, because an issue like this deserves to be noticed!”

  12. Wonderful letter! Thank you for sending such an intelligent and eloquent letter to address the problem of fat talk. It is so inspiring and educational as I work to become a health advocate myself. Thank you for being such a great role model!

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Sunny Sea Gold

About the Author

Sunny Sea Gold is a media-savvy advocate and commentator specializing in binge eating disorder, cultural obsessions around food and weight, and raising children who have a healthy body image.