Tara Erraught, a young Irish opera singer, recently made her debut as Octavian in the Glyndebourne production of Strauss’ comedic opera Der Rosenkavalier.
Here's a glimpse of some of the reviews she got:
The Telegraph described her as "dumpy."
The Financial Times said how her character is a "chubby bundle of puppy fat."
In the words of the Guardian’s Andrew Clements, “It’s hard to imagine this stocky Octavian as this willowy women’s plausible lover.”
The Independent’s Michael Church said she had "the demeanor of a scullery maid."
The demeaning criticism has fired up opera fans and Erraught supporters.
Forget the fact that the critics fat-shamed an opera star, obviously overlooking practical implications of size and shape in an operatic performance. Writers also failed to consider the sentiments of the person at the receiving end of such criticism.
Oh, the critics are all men. That should explain it, but really doesn’t. No amount of wit, humor or looking the other way can justify their comments.
Erraught is taking the high road and has yet to comment. Her spokesman did say, "Tara is focused on the music and preparing for her upcoming performances. There will be no further statement at this time."
Fortunately, she has a lot of support and people have reacted strongly to the fat-shaming by critics.
Alice Coote, a leading mezzo-soprano, said, “We cannot people our operatic stages with singers that above all are believable visually or sexually attractive to our critics — that way lies the death of opera . . . opera is all about the voice.”
"Being underweight is far more damaging to a singer's well-being and performance than being overweight. Similarly I can tell you that if our stomachs are toned anywhere near a six-pack our sound will suffer. The relaxation needed for low breathing is not aided in any sense by an over worked out body," she added.
Others also slammed the critics for their comments.
Tara Erraught has a tremendous voice, but critics only talked about her weight. The Opera world is ANGRY. (good) http://t.co/Yao2ycA6hi— The Winter Soldier (@MarieMJS) May 21, 2014
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I hope the audience at Rosenkavalier tmrw give Tara Erraught lots of support. Unbearable to imagine doing a show after all this media crap— Nicholas Collon (@nicholascollon) May 20, 2014
Fat shaming is quickly becoming an epidemic. According to a recent study, fat-shaming is more harmful than even racism and sexism.
In everything around us, from movies to magazines and billboards, beauty is equated with skinny and toned people. It comes as no surprise then that 87 percent of girls aged 11-21 feel that women are judged more on their appearance than their abilities.
It’s indeed a shame and one would expect a change in attitudes in this day and age, but apparently people still have a long way to go.