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Former 'DWTS' Pro Says Weight-Shaming Comments From Fellow Male Pros 'Broke Her Spirit'

Lacey Schwimmer, who competed on 'Dancing with the Stars' as a pro, opened up about how damaging the comments from Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Louis van Amstel were.

Lacey Schwimmer
Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic/Getty Images

It's always hurtful to hear someone criticize or even ridicule our appearance. Whether it's our weight, our face, or how we wear our hair, how we present ourselves and how others perceive us is a touchy subject.

Plus, it's the final quarter of 2023. We should know better by now.

But there are some industries in which body-shaming seems to be worse than ever, and more female celebrities have been coming forward to spill the tea about how things operate behind the scenes.

This includes what goes on behind the curtains at Dancing with the Stars. In such a high-pressure, fast-paced, and competitive environment, it's easy to understand why fitness and health are paramount. But it would be lovely to know that all body types are being celebrated.

Former DWTS performer Lacey Schwimmer made it clear that inclusivity was far from the minds of many on the show, even for someone like Schwimmer, who had a body that everyone seemed to want.

As a guest on former competitor Cheryl Burke's new podcast Sex, Lies, and Spray Tans, Schwimmer gave an absolute tell-all of the weight-shaming on the show and how it broke her spirit.

Most of her story centered around her time performing with Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Louis van Amstel, both of whom frequently criticized her weight and body shape on the show.

Schwimmer reflected:

"When I'm 19 years old and I'm excited to do this brand new venture and be celebrated for something I've worked my whole life to do, to hear people I've looked up to [speak that way]... it literally broke my spirit."
"Oh my god, it ruined me. I remember crying and crying and crying."

Chmerkovskiy hardly kept his opinions private, either. In a 2008 interview with TV Guide, he said:

"When I first saw these women this season, I said, 'Guys, you know the camera adds 10 pounds. You have to do something about this."

Van Amstel came at the subject from a different, equally horrifying angle.

"People look at this show and think, 'If I just work hard enough, I can look like that.'"
"If they watch someone who's dancing her butt off and she's still heavy, they can be discouraged. You have to take that responsibility [and lose the weight]."

You can see more about the men's comments here:

DWTS alum Lacey Schwimmer: Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Louis van Amstel’s comments about weight ‘ruined me’

Schwimmer admitted on the podcast that when she started out at 19, she thought criticism was a part of the growing pains of making a place for herself in the industry. She said she wanted to carry herself gracefully, and worried about sounding negative.

Ultimately, Schwimmer decided it was time to speak out.

"I don't care if you're skinny, fat, whatever, ugly-faced, busted teeth, I don't care what you look like! It has nothing to do with your talent or your ability to do what you were hired to do."

You can listen to the full interview with Schwimmer on Sex, Lies, and Spray Tans here:

"Bad Girl" of Ballroom with Lacey Schwimmer | Sex, Lies, and Spray

Listeners were disgusted by Van Amstel and Chmerkovskiy's comments, and showed their support for Schwimmer.

Fans also shouted out the podcast, citing it as an important addition to the industry.

Body-shaming is harmful, and the best way to combat it is to talk more openly about our experiences, like Cheryl Burke is doing on her podcast. And the more that harm is brought to light, the more likely we are to find a healthier and more positive approach.