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I’m pretty sure that everyone in the known universe agrees that Maria Callas, ‘La Divina’, was pretty much the best singer in the history of time.  Sure, sometimes

it is really hard to love her, and she actually had a pretty ugly voice.  But she could sing anything, and make it sound like she was half asleep and singing in the bath or something.  Nobody could do what she did.  She had the craziest range, and every tessitura she sang in seemed like the perfect fit.  Honestly, who can sing Carmen’s Habanera and then the Bell Song and have them each sound as though they were written for her.  Surely it could be argued that so-and-so’s is better, but even still, Callas’ versions are always amazing. Whether you like her or hate her, you cannot deny that she was an incredible technical singer, and will always be remembered as such.

But did you know she used to be fat? Quel horreur, right? Would she even be remembered at all outside of classical music circles if she had been forever cursed by fatness?  My guess is no.

She was always fat (if you consider this picture on the right—> to be fat),  ever since she was a kid, you know, just like most fat people.  And she always felt like shit about it, thinking even her mother didn’t like her as much as her skinny sister.  Yet despite her crippling fatness she studied music and became incredibly famous and loved.  Many uninitiated into the classical music world maybe think that a fat woman is totally awesome in that field, but guess what, you’re wrong again.  Everybody, everywhere, hates a fat lady.  Plenty of dicks called her disgusting and gross and other imaginative things, but she didn’t let it affect her, she was the most highly regarded singer in the world!  O wait, never mind she did! Even though she had been “fat” her whole life and had never had any health problems, and had always had the stamina to sing, midway through her illustrious career she claimed that she was just too fat and needed to lose weight.  All her critics were right.  She then proceeded to lose 80 pounds over 1 summer-that’s all- and kept it off for essentially the rest of her life.

Consequently, of course, her voice suffered and her singing career was DRAMATICALLY shortened.  An opera singer’s career starts late (usually when they are in their 30’s) and can last at least 100 years as long as they are using good technique.  But, as we all are aware, once a fatty becomes thin, it takes a mountain of effort to maintain that svelte appearance.  I can’t imagine how hungry she was every time she sang. It may look like a singer is just standing there, but it is hard work and physically demanding.

But, as hungry and miserable as she probably was, she was really, REALLY pretty now.  She gained the confidence she never had before (well, the remainder I suppose.  It takes a lot of confidence to sing in front of people at all) and could now do all the sexy roles she wanted.  Her audience was bigger than ever.

In the end I wish that she had never lost weight.  I can’t possibly understand the pressure that she must have been under, and I can’t even remotely blame her.  There is no way that she would have been so universally loved if she were fat, because as previously noted, everybody hates fat chicks.  But I imagine what else she could have done with her divine voice if she continued training in the same body she had always had.


Comments on: "On Maria Callas and Being Fat" (16)

  1. This article is pathetic. Extremely poor writing by an obviously closed minded individual. Why is there an article about Maria Callas’s weight when her voice is astounding, as is her career. And your introductory statement implying she was the best is immediately contradicted by her voice is ugly??? I respect opinion but make up your mind. Have respect for the arts. A painting isnt more or less beautiful because the artist is as you say “fat” and neither is a song. Lucianno Pavarotti was a large man but I do not recall this effecting his outstanding career whatsoever. This is a huge waist of internet space and extremely juvenile. Grow up. You are shaming yourself and making yourself look like the asshole you are

    • Hi Thanks for responding sorry that I took so long to reply. No need to be rude, you could have easily commented without calling me names or anything- but to your point; Maybe I am a bad writer, so I apologize if I didn’t make my opinion clear. Maria Callas is my favorite singer and I think she is immensely talented. Many experts often agree that her tone is ugly, but that she if a beautiful singer- this does not detract from her singing, it only proves how much more talent she has. Many singers can get away with have a sweet sounding tone, but poor technique and that doesn’t make a good singer, or even someone that you would want to listen to ever. For example, many paintings that are some of the most brilliant and moving, powerful, meaningful etc, are not beautiful- beauty is not what makes art art, it is the meaning behind, the technique, the story, the mirror put up to society so to speak- any number of those things. If purely “beauty” was a marker for how good art is, then everything would be a lot more shallow in this world.
      As for the being fat part- again sorry I did not make myself clear, but the point of the blog is that she was probably even better when she was fatter- I think it is sad that she likely felt pressured by her burgeoning fame to lose weight to appeal more to her audiences and critics, because it is possible that she lost something more than weight in the process. (of course that is arguable, some people seem sure that extreme weight loss does not affect the voice) She is already one of the greatest performers and singers of recent history, imagine if she could have been accepted at her vocal peak? Why was her being so beautiful such an important part of her singing career? The 2 should not necessarily be entwined.

    • wow Beth..your language is atrocious and you are not a kind person

  2. Just a note on Maria’s losing weight: I have read practically every book ever published on Maria and I suspect she lost weight using the Atkins program, even though she didn’t realize it. She would make reference to “eating hard boiled eggs and green salads for lunch” and would have a cup of beef broth and a big steak for dinner. No pasta for her, although she made it for her husband. I think her body went into ketosis and it was that process that allowed her to become so slender. I don’t believe the story about the tapeworm. However, there are ramifications to eliminating all carbs and she may have suffered both mentally & physically later in her life, even if she did look wonderful and thin.

    • I tend to agree with you, the tapeworm thing would be way too perfectly coincidental, seeing as how she was pressured to lose weight. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  3. I just would never call her fat, especially judging by the picture. I’d mention that others who pressured her talked to her that way, but she was beautiful. You are right about the conflicted nature of people’s opinions of her voice. It is a “hard” voice, but she worked very, very hard, and her success was the result. As to her decline, well… just another example of the effect of crazy, mass-media ideas on people’s perceptions of weight on an individual’s life. It’s a shame.

    On some of the comments above… good for you for standing up, respectfully. Ride above the emotional abuse, take the better advice, and carry on. Beth, you are the one who should be ashamed of yourself. Take a step back, and a deep breath, before you let your vitriol come out your fingers to the keyboard, and the net. The only thing you’ve done is establish yourself as rude and abusive, even if the kernel of some of your criticism was justified.

    auralfixations, I’m sure you know your writing could use some work, but that’s just practice, and lots of reading. Keep on and Chive On!

    • Thanks! I also don’t really think she was very big, and beautiful no matter what, but certainly at her bigger size she would have been (and was) called fat by her critics all the time. I definitely need to practice, I appreciate your comment! Keep on rockin’ in the free world 😉

  4. ‘Everybody’ hates skinny chicks, too, from my experience. Some of us are born with that wiry set of genes. Why do we wind up being accused of engaging in anorexic behaviour? To slap the icing on the cake, if one’s features happen to accord with the contemporary standard of beauty, one is shat on for that as well (‘So I’m an empty-headed whore, too. Nice,’ I thought. All this whilst struggling through the many years of adolescence and young adulthood–as EVERYONE does–struggle, I mean, regardless of appearance.).
    I’ve been called beautiful and ugly in equal measure, but no one, it seems, ever forgives a girl for being naturally skinny. Your mileage may vary. BUT PLEASE… CAN WE ALL JUST GET ALONG? EH?

    • Hey thanks for your comment. I totally agree with you that a lot of people also hate skinny chicks and it’s totally unfair and just another symptom of misogynist attitudes, and this hurts all women. However, a naturally skinny woman is not likely to be shamed into gaining weight in order to further her career. Her biggest issue will likely be jealousy from other women, whereas fat women are actively told to change parts of themselves and focus on that first before anything else they do receives recognition. Unfortunately this really does make it harder for thin women, fat women, medium sized or whatever to live their lives without being constantly bothered about their appearance. My blog wasn’t meant to say that thin women are bad, or anything, just that it sucks that the world couldn’t recognize Maria for her talent alone, she had to be beautiful too.

      • No, no, I didn’t think you were saying thin women were bad at all! I’m really enjoying your blog. I believe I was rather too worked up when I’d read this, but definitely in agreement regarding figure ambiguity. How odd bodies are. And well, sociological studies aside, how happy we can be with these lovely things. 🙂

  5. Hay/Why r u so jealous?U have no right to write these ugly comments about such Diva.U want to be famous by writing all of these bullshit?Wrong way.Pls,culture urself.

    • Hello, of course I am jealous of Maria Callas, as I’m sure everyone else who loves music is. I am in no way insulting her, I made no ugly comments. In fact, she is one of my biggest inspirations and I love her music.
      I obviously do not want to be famous I am just practicing my writing.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Beverly Freeman said:

    Sophia is the greatest. May she forever rest in Goddesses loving arms.

  7. Callas was not fat when she was a child; there are pictures! Some say that she was dumpy as a child. How can one be dumpy at 5’7, (on her first passport). It seems that she started getting chubby in Greece, and most definitely in Italy.
    As it turns out, when she lost all that weight, which took about a year and a half, it had nothing to do with the decline of her voice. Some doctors in Milan diagnosed her as having dermatomyositis, a disease where one looses muscle tone, especially in the larynx. So give her a break!

  8. Well i think the author is just trying to be funny (and I think she is) with the seemingly outrageous language, but between the lines there’s a deep love and respect for Callas and her art. I don’t understand what other comments get so worked up about. As for the weight loss, the author points out something that others seem to have ignored: not only the weight loss itself is tremendously hard, to maintain it, on top of all her travelling and heavy schedule, is totally unthinkable, and it is something only THE Callas could make happen, and apparently she did exceptionally great a job as she did in singing. Whether it is worth it, it is her own choice. She made the choice, and stuck to it. My respect, that’s all. It has been 40 years and we all miss her.

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