Victoria Arlen Reveals She Was Bullied in High School But Uses Painful Past as Inspiration for DWTS Performance
'I would go through the hallways and be pointed at and laughed at because I was the new kid in a wheelchair,' Victoria Arlen said on Monday's DWTS
On Monday’s guilty pleasure night, the paralympian — who spent four years in a vegetative state after being diagnosed with transverse myelitis and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis— shared that she was bullied for being the new kid in a wheelchair. That’s why she picked her pump up song, Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” to dance to with pro Val Chmerkovskiy.
“Even throughout the last like decade, there’s been so many times I’ve been knocked down,” Arlen, 23, told her Dancing with the Stars partner.
Though Chmerkovskiy, 31, wasn’t a fan of the selection, he understood why it means so much to the EPSN personality.
“I was bullied in high school,” Arlen explained. “I would go through the hallways and be pointed at and laughed at because I was the new kid in a wheelchair. And so I would listen to this song and it kind of motivated me.”
She continued, “This week we’re going back to high school, and this time around it is getting knocked down, getting back up again and overcoming those bullies.”
After Team ViVa, as the pair named themselves, earned a 22/30 from the judges, Arlen reflected on dancing the quickstep just one year after relearning to walk.
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“My legs haven’t moved that quick in almost 12 years,” she told host Tom Bergeron, who revealed to the audience that Arlen has been bandaging her legs for support. “They’re definitely supports because my leg muscles definitely aren’t 100 percent. So it keeps them locked and loaded to do the quickstep.”
Arlen also shared one other element that she’s relied on for support throughout the competition: her partner. “There’s nothing greater than just having people that pick you up when you get knocked down,” she said. “And Val is that person.”
Bergeron offered some more pointed final words: “If I could just address kids watching. If you’re going to school and you see somebody who’s different, don’t be an ass.”
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.