Cheryl Burke is opening up about her experience with body image as a professional dancer.
“Now that I’m sober, I have body dysmorphia because I’m a dancer,” Burke admitted on the show. “I mean, tell me one dancer that doesn’t.”
“So when I look at myself in the mirror and someone says, ‘Oh, you look amazing,’ I see someone who is overweight and, in my eyes and in my way of judging myself, not amazing,” she explained. “It’s like no matter what I look like.”
Body dysmorphia is described as a mental health disorder in which a person can’t stop thinking about a perceived defect or flaw in their appearance, according to the Mayo Clinic. The disorder can cause anxiety and distress, making it difficult to function in social situations and daily life.
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“I knew I had a problem when I was going back through old seasons and I was pretty skinny and yet I was still giving wardrobe hassle in our fittings,” Burke said. “Not hassling them but more like, ‘Oh, I feel like s—’ or ‘Oh my God, look at my fat roll.’ And it’s just so ridiculous, right?”
Burke told Hayes and Wali that her “tipping point” with body dysmorphia was when her weight became a topic of discussion among others.
“Not only was my dance coach just harder on me, but because I’m naturally curvy, like I have hip bones, it is what it is. But also, the nation decided to call me fat about season seven or eight when I got off my birth control and I retained 15 lbs. of water weight, which I thought was going to obviously be the opposite — normally people lose weight when they get off birth control,” she said.
“So I decided to get off of it right at the beginning of the season and I gained weight like in less than a week, literally 15 lbs. of water weight. And then it was a big deal, like ‘Cheryl’s too fat for TV,’ ” Burke continued. “Ever since then, it’s been really nonstop. I have to be very conscious and kind of take a step back and to see that happen. So, you know, it will ruin my mood. So let’s say I have a fitting and it doesn’t fit the way [I want]. Or if I feel bloated, like what normal humans go through, it will affect my mood for the rest of the day.”
The star added that as a competitive ballroom dancer, she’s been judged her whole life, spending hours of rehearsals staring at mirrors and comparing herself to others. Though she loves dancing, Burke said on the podcast that she thinks she’ll struggle with her body image until the day she decides to retire.