Dancing with the Stars pro Val Chmerkovskiy seems to have put his foot in his mouth after comments he made on social media in response to a picture of a heavy-set teen drinking a soda went viral. According to a report by Gossip Cop Skylar Eden, 16, of Tennessee, who has Downs Syndrome, claims that she is now suffering emotional distress and her family is suing the dancer for $6 million as a result of his unsolicited remarks.
The problem started after the dancer posted a meme* on Instagram that featured Eden’s photo with text over it that read, “Letting your child become obese should be considered child abuse.” He then wrote in the caption (himself), “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 post was also published on Chmerkovskiy’s Twitter and Facebook pages, but was eventually taken down after garnering negative reaction from his followers, who condemned him for not only using the photo of an underage individual he did not know without consent, but for also making judgments without knowing anything about her condition. In fact, Eden’s parents stated in their suit that Skylar’s weight issues are directly related to her Downs Syndrome. They also contend that the photo was originally taken by someone at a baseball game in 2008, and posted online with the caption, “Everything that’s wrong with America.” It eventually ended up as the meme, seen by the dance pro.
Although Chmerkovskiy’s posts were eventually removed, the action came after they had already been made available to his more than 700,000 Instagram followers, as well as 365,000 people on Facebook and 277,000 on Twitter,
In addition TMZ said that the Eden family is also seeking $6 million from CBS News for also re-posting the meme, as well as $600,000 from the man who originally shot and uploaded the photograph.