Fit, Not Fat
November 29, 2001

“All for one and one for all.” That’s a motto dancers should live by in today’s harsh world—and it seems to be working for the stars of the current season of “Dancing with the Stars.” The contestants have been rallying in support of Cheryl Burke after several bloggers referred to her as “fat.” Clearly, anyone in his or her right mind can see that Burke—a size four—is anything but overweight. She’s healthy and content with her size, which is what’s important.
    “Cheryl is a very level-headed girl. Obviously, the comments were hurtful, but she can rise above that stuff. She’s a very classy, strong woman and ultimately she didn’t let it get to her,” says fellow DWTS dancer Kym Johnson in an interview for People Magazine. “Cheryl’s body is incredible. Everybody comments on how she looks and how beautiful her body is. I found it really bizarre [that] people were saying stuff like that.”
Actor Cristian de la Fuente, Burke’s season six partner, also commented in the People article: “We live in a very plastic society where everybody needs to be a size zero. If somebody gains five or 10 pounds it’s not a crime,” de la Fuente says. “It’s life.”
Comments like these are nice to see after such scathing remarks, and even non-dancers are defending Burke. Irene Rubaum-Keller, a columnist for The Huffington Post, penned an open letter to the star. “With everything that is going on in the world today,” she wrote, “it is hard to believe that your five pounds are making such a big splash.”
    I couldn’t agree more with Rubaum-Keller. Dance educators take note: You have a special responsibility to encourage a healthy diet and exercise to students, rather than having perfect abs and being a size zero. Consider talking to students about the media’s obsession with weight and use Burke as a positive example of someone willing to take a stand. I wouldn’t be surprised if Burke used these comments to fuel her passion for dance and win this season of the show!

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