sheraton caldwell orchestra

Toronto orchestra shut down over fat-shaming controversy

A performing arts company in Toronto was effectively shuttered this week after an email blew up online in which singers were told they needed to be "fit and slim" (or, at the very least, to hide their "dietary indulgences" with clothing.)

The management of Sheraton Cadwell Orchestra sent out the now-viral message on Monday, writing that "although almost all of our vocalists are fit and slim – the way our boutique orchestras would like our front line performing artists to be – two of our singers would not."

The message goes on to say that these singers should "refrain from using tight fitting dresses and use loose (less physically-revealing, less physically—accentuating) dresses instead."

"Your image is our image," reads the email. "If you look good, we do too."

Perhaps even more troubling was their statement that "for all future shows," singers who didn't meet the appearance guidelines would no longer get to perform.

Like pretty much everyone else who's read it, volunteer vocalist Sydney Dunitz was shocked by the email's contents. 

She posted a screenshot of the message to Facebook on Tuesday night and wrote in the caption that she was"absolutely disgusted."

Within a day, the story was trending on Twitter, and has since made headlines around the world.

On Thursday, amidst growing controversy, Sheraton Cadwell's managment sent out another email to volunteer vocalists – this time, with an apology and a resignation.

"With our resignation, our financial funding for the Sheraton Cadwell community service project & training program will also be terminated forthwith with much regret, and as such, the entire organization will cease to exist in due course," reads the email.

"We sincerely apologize for any embarrassment/harassment that you may experience from media representatives or other individuals/parties as a result of misconstrued/malicious allegations and extremely negative/destructive/evil intent."

It goes on to thank its musicians and vocalists for 14 years of “good work” and asks them if they could help dispose of the sheet music folders they no longer need.

Former Sheraton Cadwell vocalist Victoria Leone told the Toronto Star today that she was disappointed to learn of the organization's closure.

"Shutting down the organization was never the intent from any of the girls who’ve spoken out on the body-shaming email," she said, adding that the women had simply been looking for an apology.

Lead photo by

Sheraton Cadwell Orchestra


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