Body issues among ballerinas were brought into sharp focus by the movie “Black Swan,” which is playing in theaters.
The movie’s stars, Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman both said they lost a lot of weight to play their roles and fit the stereotype of a ballerina.
Ringer says she doesn’t want an apology from the writer, but underscored, “I’m not overweight,” in an interview with the “Today Show” today (Dec. 13).
“My body is part of my art form,” says Jenifer, 37. “At the same time, I am not overweight. I do have I guess a more womanly body type than the stereotypical ballerina.”
She added: “It made me feel bad. It is embarrassing to see something bad written about yourself in print.
“I had to tell myself that was one person’s opinion out of 2,000 people who were there. The outpouring of people who leapt to my defense was wonderful.”
Times critic Alastair Macaulay ignited a firestorm with his review of the New York City Ballet’s performance of the Nutcracker Nov. 28.
“Jenifer Ringer, as the Sugar Plum Fairy, looked as if she’d eaten one sugar plum too many; and Jared Angle, as the Cavalier, seems to have been sampling half the Sweet realm.”
Fans and bloggers slamming Macaulay for being an insensitive and size-ist, especially in light of Ringer’s previous admission that she had struggled for years with anorexia and compulsive overeating.
In response, Macaulay wrote a follow-up column Dec. 3, revealing his own weight loss story and defending his original comments:
“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.”
Ringer, has previously spoken out about her battles with anorexia and overeating, says she learned over the years that while being skinny is a job requirement for a ballerina, being healthy is just as important.
“I was 16 when I became professional and I think I wasn’t prepared to cope with just being in an adult performing world, and so I think my coping mechanisms kind of turned into eating disorders and body image issues,” she recounts.
“[But] if you’re too thin, you really can’t do the job. You’re weak and you can’t perform well.”