Shrand says this is why we rally around a woman when she's criticized about her weight, but when the same barbs are thrown at a man we often dismiss them. "We perpetuate the myth that somehow men are tougher, but it's time to be as protective of men as we have been about women. Just because guys don't talk about it as much doesn't mean they don't have a [distorted view] of their bodies," he said.
So in a weird way, Macaulay gets points for being an equal opportunity offender. His petty, peculiar remarks were aimed at both dancers alike. For him, it's not a woman thing or man thing -- it's a dance thing. We are the ones who made fat a feminist issue.
In a follow-up column, Macaulay admitted to having self-esteem problems of his own but said dancers should expect to hear this sort of critique. If you don't want your body criticized, don't choose ballet as a career, he seemed to imply. This argument sounds somewhat out of tune to me, especially since Macaulay's opinion is so important in the dance community. He's so powerful that almost no one in the dance world is willing to stand up to him on the record.
"Even though it was beyond the pale, everyone is scared to death to say anything because a good review from The New York Times is the difference between getting a lot of work or no work," Xavier told me when he explained why I can't reveal his identity.
And precisely because Macaulay's judgment does (ironically) hold so much weight, he has a singular opportunity to change the dialogue going forward. While the body is undeniably part of ballet's aesthetic, and it's understandable that appearance is relevant to its performance, unless the 1 percent extra body fat he observed on the dancers affects their performance, he shouldn't have mentioned it. Until we all refrain from this kind of bullying disparagement, such hurtful and pointless beliefs will continue to trickle all the way to children's dance classes and beyond.