Whitmore, 32, has just written a blog for the Huffington Post detailing her time on the BBC reality show back in 2016 and how it left it upset on a daily basis.
‘I’m still not ready to talk in depth about my experience on the show,’ she said, after being paired up with professional dancer Giovanni Pernice, 27. ‘I love dancing – I topped the leaderboard twice – but before it even began, I was thrown into the lion’s den and into the middle of someone’s break-up that had nothing to do with me,’ which she says severely affected her.
‘I was placed with a dance partner I was extremely uncomfortable with – and in the end I felt broken,’ she said after the strain of being thrust into the spotlight and into centre of a messy break-up between Giovanni and previous contestant (and former Corrie actress) Georgia May Foote, 27.
‘Once again, I was a “rumoured love interest”,’ Laura recalled – which was through no fault of her own.
‘How have we sunk to this level, where women are routinely reduced, and demeaned, in this way? It is impossible to understand, when everything about it is so wrong, so misguided and so vile,’ she said of the negative coverage she received and the unfair manner in which she was gossiped about in the papers.
‘I cried every day. And I really was broken, both mentally and physically, by the end,’ she revealed.
But Laura says how she had to put on a brave face and not let media pressure get to her: ‘To the outside world I tried to suck it up and smile, and I did that to the best of my ability, but it affected me deeply.’
To audiences at home, they were able to see a confident women dancing on their televisions each weekend, but had no idea of the emotional and physical strain she was under: ‘My friends and family knew that I was struggling. And they were there for me. The media, however, saw me as blonde bait in a sequinned dress.’
‘I know that compared to many people I have been fortunate,’ she believes.
‘I love this life and I’ve been blessed with wonderful opportunities – but I’ve had enough of being trivialised and gossiped about. Women are not playthings, either of men or of the media, and should not be treated as such,’ she warned.
Laura also praised the strong women in her life, while again calling out media representation when it comes to objectification: ‘As women, we need to start celebrating ourselves and asserting our true worth. We are not meat. We are beautiful, complex creatures. We should not have to feel like we are constantly on guard.
‘I am lucky to have such strong and inspiring women in my life, as well as men, who appreciate and respect women. I’ve always found it easier to speak up for others – but I now also acknowledge the importance of speaking up for myself.’