Cheryl Burke Opens Up About Fat-Shaming During Her “Dancing with the Stars” Years. Cheryl Burke, the former “Dancing with the Stars” pro, has spoken candidly about the body-shaming she faced during her 26 seasons on the show, particularly during the time when it enjoyed Super Bowl-level ratings.
In 2022, at the height of the show’s popularity, Burke decided to exit the ballroom dancing competition. Throughout her tenure on the show, she endured hurtful comments about her body from both viewers and fellow professionals, including Maks Chmerkovskiy.
“[Maks] apologized years ago when this whole thing happened. He apologized to me and my mother, actually, which was nice of him,” Burke shared with the New York Post. “But look, is there closure? I don’t know if there’s closure. I mean, it’s not just because of him saying anything. It goes back to my dancing and competition career.”
She continued, “This has always been an issue because I am a curvy girl, and that’s just the way it is. And I can’t change where my bones are or my hips. And it’s just – it is what it is. And either I accept it, or I don’t. And obviously, when all your whole life it’s been centered around basically that, it’s hard to accept it.”
Burke emphasized the need for self-acceptance, saying, “So, I think, at the end of the day, I [need] closure with myself. And in order for that to happen, I have to love me and the body that God blessed me with, really.”
Burke’s journey on the show began at just 21 years old when she partnered with Drew Lachey during the time of his brother Nick Lachey’s divorce from Jessica Simpson. Their win that season drew considerable media attention and scrutiny of Burke’s appearance.
“I think that was when people started coming in a way after me, and you can’t really – it’s hard because I was growing up in front of people’s eyes on TV. I started when I was 21, and your hormones change, and I did gain some weight,” Burke explained. “I base my life off of seasons here, but I think it was like season 7 or 8, right before I danced with Gilles Marini. And I’ll never forget being the center of the tabloids, just like, ‘Is she too fat for TV?’ All of these horrible comments.”
“And it wasn’t just me. It was also Lacey Schwimmer at the time,” Burke noted. “And then some of these pro dancers agreeing with it.”
Despite the challenges, Burke sees a gradual improvement in the body positivity message in the industry. “I think we’re slowly getting better,” she said. “But it is important to still represent that by action and not just by words.”
A representative for Burke did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
Despite the difficulties she faced, Burke acknowledges that “Dancing with the Stars” played a significant role in her life, providing a lifeline during tough times. “I guess it always goes back to how dancing in a way has saved my life in many ways,” she previously explained to Fox News Digital after the season 31 premiere in 2022.
Burke added, “Whether that is my sobriety or my divorce or when it was really rough last year … dancing has really, this show especially, helped me take my mind off the stuff that has been really hard to deal with emotionally.”