Two-time "Dancing With the Stars" champion Cheryl Burke has found herself the subject of tabloids and bloggers -- not all for her ballroom prowess, though; some of the chatter concerns her weight.
The 24-year-old says she has endured often vicious comments about the few extra pounds she gained during the summer.
"It was a huge shock for me," Burke said on "Good Morning America" today. "The worst thing I'd have to say is that people thought I was a few months pregnant when I started the show."
Burke admitted she had gotten curvier, but added her weight only had increased by five pounds. The dancer said she still fits into her size 4 costumes and clothes, but the criticism has taken an emotional toll on her.
"I know I'm not fat, but when people keep telling you that you have to think about it," said Burke, who added she had cried at times over the harsh words. "It is hard. I've always had that naturally curvy body since I was 11 years old."
The San Francisco native attributed her additional pounds to having time off for the first time in years. Burke said she wasn't dancing for seven hours daily as she normally does and primarily was focused on opening her dance studio in her hometown. She also didn't travel with the "DWS" tour, as she has done in the past -- all of which she thinks probably contributed to her weight gain.
The initial fervor about Burke's weight began this summer when a picture of her in a bikini appeared in several magazines. Some posters said the ballroom beauty needed to join a weight loss program and one blogger wrote Burke was "approaching hogzilla proportions."
Though Burke said she tried to avoid the coverage of her body and weight, she said it was difficult.
"It's been in my face. It's kind of hard to avoid that," she said.
When she began her sixth season with "DWS," she was self-conscious about her body. She's already dropped some of the weight she picked up, Burke said.
"I'm naturally losing it because I'm dancing seven hours a day," said Burke who is paired with Olympic gold medalist Maurice Green on this season's "DWS."
But Burke said she isn't going on a diet and wants to emphasize to women that they should embrace their bodies.
"I just want everyone to know you are beautiful in your own skin. You don't have to be anorexic," Burke said.