The Mighty Logo

Reality TV Star Under Fire for Meme of Girl With Down Syndrome

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Valentin Chmerkovskiy, a dancer on the reality show “Dancing With the Stars,” has come under fire after posting a meme on his public Facebook page.

The meme read, “Letting your kid become obese should be considered child abuse,” and it showed a picture of a child who turns out to have Down syndrome.

Meme showing over-weight child drinking a soda.

Her name is Skylar and she’s from Robertson County, Tennessee. Her family found out about the meme after her sister Harley Eden saw it online and realized it was Skyler, WKRN News reported.

I couldn’t believe it when I saw it,” Harley Eden, Skyler’s sister, told the outlet. “[It]makes me wonder what kind of people are out there. It makes me sick.”

Adults with Down syndrome are more likely to be obese than those without the condition, according to the National Down Syndrome Society. It’s often the result of untreated hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone.

Chmerkovskiy’s post doesn’t mention Down syndrome at all. His caption read:

I am truly sorry for the lack of sensitivity… but on some level I have to agree. Raising a child is the hardest thing in the world, I know, but being negligent when it comes to their nutrition is a crime. The lifelong obstacles and health issues you place on your child because of it can be devastating moving forward in their life. You’re handicapping your kid, and they’re defenseless, they don’t know better, that’s why you’re there… anyway I’m just a childless preacher, but here’s some food for thought. #‎nopunintended

The Facebook post garnered hundreds of likes and shares but has since been removed.

The family doesn’t know who took the original picture of Skylar, but they believe it is from years ago when Skylar, who is now 16, was around nine or 10, WKRN News reported. Mitchell said her daughter has battled with her weight since the age of four and now attends a weight management clinic at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Get more on the story from the video below: 


The Mighty reached out to Chmerkovskiy for comment but are yet to hear back. 

Originally published: January 15, 2016
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home