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Et tu, Opera?

Et tu, Opera?

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Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and we who speak the English language have an arsenal of adjectives to describe them at our disposal. For example, there’s short, tall, lanky, squat, hourglass and athletic. If we’re feeling extra creative, we can even compare women to food – “apple-shaped” or “pear shaped.” Yet, despite the breadth of words we’ve got, there’s one word that reigns supreme when we go to describe women’s bodies: fat.

Women of all sizes are guilty of calling women of all sizes fat. Men of all sizes are guilty of calling women of all sizes fat. Most days it seems like anyone above a size two can be labeled the f-word, and perhaps even the size two if she’s wearing what certain tabloids would call a particularly unflattering micro-mini.

Fat-shaming is pervasive in our society, popping up everywhere from Instagram to Opera. Yup, seriously, opera, where it ain’t supposed to be over until the fat lady sings. You can get the full deets on that story here, but suffice it to say that up and coming Irish singer Tara Erraught gave a beautiful performance and all the chorus of male critics saw was how she looked:

As reported by NPR:

  • Andrew Clark, writing for the Financial Times: “Tara Erraught’s Octavian is a chubby bundle of puppy-fat.” He adds, as an afterthought, that her performance was “gloriously sung.”
  • In The Guardian, Andrew Clements: “It’s hard to imagine this stocky Octavian as this willowy woman’s plausible lover.” (Because relationships between people of different sizes is, of course, unimaginable.)
  • Michael Church, writing in The Independent: “This Octavian (Tara Erraught) has the demeanor of a scullery-maid.” (He didn’t bother to remark on her singing at all, though she was one of the two leads in the opera. One of London’s foremost critics couldn’t possibly have squeezed even a glancing mention within the roughly 250-word confines that the paper assigned him. Tough to write short, I guess.)

Erraught will undoubtedly continue giving great performances and forcing critics to pay attention to what truly matters (ahem, her voice!). If that doesn’t work, she could follow the lead of Meghan Tonjes – a plus-size, body-positive blogger who recently had a butt selfie removed from Instagram and used the moment to strike up a conversation. Below, a video which details the incident and Megan’s response:

Personally, I think Tonjes and Erraught should team up and pen some kind of body-positive opera. Probably about male opera reviewers on Instagram.

Posted by Erin K.