In his review of the New York City Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker, leading ballet critic Alastair MaCaulay stated that Jenifer Ringer, the Sugar Plum Fairy, “looked as if she’d eaten one sugar plum too many.”
Ringer, 37, has battled various eating disorders in the past, including anorexia and compulsive eating. After reading his review, and his remarks about her size, Ringer admitted that “it made me feel bad, it’s embarrassing. I really had to tell myself it’s one person’s opinion.” She explained that she understood that MaCaulay is paid to put his opinion in the newspaper, and she hopes that the 2,000 other people who were present at the show “had a different opinion.” On the Today Show, Ringer stated that her body is part of her “art form,” and is there to be criticized.
Natalie Portman, who recently lost 20 pounds for her role as a ballerina in The Black Swan, came to Ringer’s defense when asked for her opinion on the matter. “In what other field is it acceptable to judge artists by how big they are? It is just amazing, all the pressure on dancers to starve themselves.” MaCaulay, in response to the dispute, wrote “If you want to make your appearance irrelevant to criticism, do not choose ballet as a career.”