Cheryl Burke’s Dancing Pals Speak Out in Support
10/12/2008 AT 12:00 AM EDT
Now, her friends and colleagues are speaking out in support of the two-time Dancing champ.
"That's the one part of the Internet that I find at times to be very unsettling. It encourages this sort of cowardly unkindness," DWTS judge Carrie Ann Inaba says. "It takes a lot of courage for to stand tall just as they are. She is a beautiful talented girl who is a role model to many girls out there for just being who she is." Fellow dancer and close friend Kym Johnson says Burke, a size four, decided to draw attention to the issue to encourage to love themselves as they are.
"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 Johnson, noting that neither Burke nor any of the dancers have been pressured to look a certain way. "The show's producers like the healthy bodies all of us dancers have. Cheryl's body is incredible. Everybody comments on how she looks and how beautiful her body is. I found it really bizarre were saying stuff like that."
Burke's season six partner, actor Cristian de la Fuente agrees.
"We live in a very plastic society where everybody needs to be a size zero. If somebody gains five pounds or ten pounds it's not a crime," de la Fuente says. "It's life." -- Monica Rizzo
For the complete interview with Burke, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.Will Binns/Pacific Coast News