Speaking on fellow DWTS alum Cheryl Burke's podcast, Lacey Schwimmer accused Louis van Amstel and Maksim Chmerkovskiy of making comments about their weight in a 2008 TV Guide interview.
Dancing with the Stars alum Louis van Amstel is trying to set the record straight after Lacey Schwimmer called him out. She claims he and Maksim Chmerkovskiy body-shamed her and Cheryl Burke while he insists he did nothing of the sort.
In a video shared to his Instagram page, van Amstel said plainly, “I never even spoke about Lacey or Cheryl or their weight.”
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“I really feel bad for them that they were made to feel so bad by that journalism,” he continued, “but I am here to tell you on the health of my sons, my family, I never said anything about their weight.”
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Van Amstel returned to the DWTS ballroom last season alongside Burke. He was partnered with Cheryl Ladd while she paired with Sam Champion. Both have a long and storied history with the franchise and van Amstel said of his former colleague, “I love Cheryl Burke.”
As for Schwimmer, who was on the show from Seasons 7 to 13, van Amstel said that he “never really connected” with her. Nevertheless, he also insisted, “I would never shame her on her body.”
In a 2008 interview with TV Guide, per Los Angeles Times, Chmerkovskiy and van Amstel shared their opinion about the appearance of the female professional dancers on the show.
“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,'” Chmerkovskiy said at the time.
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Van Amstel, meanwhile, told the outlet that viewers “look at this show to be inspired 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 responsibility.”
In his new video, van Amstel said that the interviewer had previously apologized to him, saying she’d “twisted” his words and that they were taken out of context.
Despite his denial, and standing by it, van Amstel offered an apology to Schwimmer. Speaking directly to her in the video, he said, “I apologize to you that you were made to feel bad by that piece, it was just not ever coming from my mouth.”
“I respect you as a dancer and you were great on Dancing With the Stars,” he continued. “I really don’t know what else to say. I never said those words. If I did, I would’ve owned up to it.”
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He then said that that he will always stand up for anyone who “feels shamed by their body.” He concluded his message by again insisting he’d never said anything about the Schwimmer or Burke’s bodies.
During her conversation on Burke’s Sex, Lies, and Spray Tans podcast, Schwimmer said that the comments at the time devastated her from people she admired. “It literally broke my spirit,” she said. “Oh, my God, it ruined me. I remember crying and crying and crying.”
She did acknowledge that standards and expectations in the dance community have evolved over the past decade, with the focus more than a decade ago being on thinness.
Schwimmer went on to share that she believes the previous standards were “not healthy,” “not realistic,” and was “not sustainable.” The “biggest weight” she reached during her time on DWTS was 138 pounds and a size 6.
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The dancer said that “no one should ever, ever discredit somebody based off of their appearance. I don’t care if you’re skinny, fat, whatever. Ugly face, busted teeth — I don’t care what you look like. It has nothing to do with your talent or ability or what you are hired to do.”
Despite how much the words hurt her, Schwimmer also said that she doesn’t hold van Amstel or Chmerkovskiy at fault. Instead, she says the culture at the show was extremely tough for female body images.
“We are forced to be put in bras and panties with a couple pieces of fringe on the butt. And just, you’re standing next to these girls who are naturally skinny and you have to take extreme measures,” she said. Those measures for her included diet pills.
She said that she slipped down to a size 2 and 115 pounds, at which point she suddenly found herself appearing in more special numbers and photoshoots. “I do find, and hear me out again, this is my personal opinion, the thinner you are, the more attention you end up getting on that show,” she said.
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