"The nation decided to call me fat about Season 7 or 8 when I actually got off my birth control and I retained 15 pounds of water weight," says the two-time Mirrorball champion.
Cheryl Burke became a "Dancing with the Stars" champion in her first season, repeating the feat the following year. She was the first female champion and the first two-time champ, and yet she still struggled.
During a recent appearance on Sean Hayes' "HypochondriActor" podcast with Dr. Priyanka Wali, Burke said that she's discovered now that she's sober she suffers from body dysmorphia.
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She credits the fact that she dances for this fact. "I mean, tell me one dancer that doesn't," she said of the mental disorder that has her seeing a distorted image of her body.
"When I look at myself in the mirror and someone says, 'Oh, you look amazing,'" she explained. "I see someone who is overweight and, in my eyes and in my way of judging myself, not amazing. It's like, no matter what I look like."
She went so far as to call her past behavior "ridiculous," recalling that she "was still giving wardrobe hassle" during fittings then, clarifying that she more meant she was saying things like, "Oh, I feel like s---" or "look at my fat roll."
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She said she can now look back and see that she wasn't fat at all. "It's just so ridiculous, right?" she mused. But it wasn't just coming from her, either. Those unhealthy perspectives were being reinforced by her dancing coach and even the viewing public.
"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," she said. "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."
She said she dropped the pill at the beginning of the season thinking she would even lose weight, but instead quickly put on the extra pounds, leading to comments like, "Cheryl's too fat for TV" from the public, and even allegedly a couple of co-workers, per the dancer. She even recalled news stories about her weight gain.
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"Ever since then, it's been really nonstop," she said of her mental struggles with her own body. "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."
Burke even suggested that her body dysmorphia is impacting her desire to have children, per The Daily Mail. Despite wanting to take that step, she admitted she still hasn't even frozen eggs toward that effort.
"Maybe this is why it's hard for me to even say that I'm ready for a kid, because the last thing I'd want is to blame my kid for the way I look at myself," she said. "That is just not ideal. You have to heal first before we do that."
"Dancing with the Stars" moves to Disney+ this fall, become the first live streaming series on the service.
If you or someone you know needs help with mental health text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.