The Dancing With the Stars pro opened up about having a complicated relationship with her body while appearing on the Hypochondriactor podcast hosted by Sean Hayes and Dr. Priyanka Wali.
"I suffer from social anxiety now that I’m sober, I have body dysmorphia because I’m a dancer," she shared. "I mean, tell me one dancer that doesn’t."
Burke shared a piece of her story on YouTube in November 2020 with a video titled "My Struggles with Body Image," where she said that she had long had a difficult time feeling comfortable in her skin. While on the podcast, she shared more detail about what that means to her.
"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. So it’s like no matter what I look like," she said.
Although the experience is one she's relatively used to, Burke explained that she realized it was a problem when she was revisiting old seasons of DWTS.
"I was pretty skinny and yet I was still giving wardrobe hassle in our fittings. Like meaning not hassling them, more like, ‘Ugh I feel like shit’ or ‘Oh my god look at my fat roll.’ It's so ridiculous," she said.
Ultimately, she said it got to the point where she couldn't stop thinking about it. Her negative thoughts were also reinforced by a conversation happening publicly about her body.
"The nation decided to call me fat about season seven or eight when I actually got off my birth control and I retained 15 pounds of water weight, which I thought was obviously going to 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 pounds of water weight. And then it was like a big deal, like 'Cheryl’s too fat for TV' and then I had a couple of my coworkers blasting my ass too and then I would wake up to like KTLA 'Cheryl’s too fat.' I was like, this is crazy."
Some of the headlines appeared in the 2020 video that Burke had put together, as they are a contributing factor to her feelings. Still, she told Hayes and Wali that body negativity is something she suffered from long before being in the public eye. Her experience on television has only exacerbated it.
"I am a dancer, right, so at the end of the day I’ve only known my coach to do weigh-ins with me. It was always a thing. Like my mom, she’s very health conscious, she was always on the South Beach Diet or when the Atkins was popular. So as a young girl that’s what I was exposed to and then obviously having to look at yourself in the mirror when you dance, that is just constant. There’s no way that we’d ever go into a studio without mirrors, so we’re constantly looking," she shared. "And then on comparison because I’ve been judged my whole life, let’s not forget, as a ballroom competitor dancer and now from these three weirdos on the show holding up panels one through ten. And then the press of it or when you see that one comment on Instagram like, 'Are you pregnant?' Stuff like that. So that doesn’t stop."
Burke said that she believes "it will help when I'm done with Dancing With the Stars," and no longer on a public stage in tiny outfits alongside gorgeous celebrity dancers. And while she's "doing the work" to get to a better place in her relationship with her body, she'll deal with the intrusive thoughts forever.
"I do believe that it will always be a problem," she said. "Maybe this is why I haven’t frozen my eggs, maybe this is why it’s hard for me to even say that I’m ready for a kid is because the last thing I’d want is to blame my kid for the way I look at myself. That is just not ideal. You have to heal first before we do that."
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