Girl, 19, gets body-shamed at church: 'Fat girls don't wear shorts'

Jenna, 19, got fat-shamed for wearing shorts at church. (Photo: Twitter)
Jenna, 19, got fat-shamed for wearing shorts at church. (Photo: Twitter)

A 19-year-old girl from Swansboro, N.C. was fat-shamed at church on Sunday, when a congregation leader followed her to the bathroom and told her, “Fat girls don’t wear shorts.”

The teen, who goes by Jenna on Twitter, took to her social media to share a video that she captured when a woman named Bonnie Sue confronted her in the bathroom of Swansboro United Methodist Church. When the clip starts, Sue is seemingly referring to another churchgoer when she says, “She’s a chubby girl. She’s got a dress on that’s appropriate.”

When Jenna responds, “So you’re sitting here calling me fat?” Sue counters, “Oh, you don’t think you are?”

Jenna is heard breaking down into tears, while Sue continues to taunt and threaten her.

“Don’t come back on that stage with those shorts,” Sue said. “I’m warning you.”

According to an explanation included in Jenna’s Twitter thread, the teen is a member of the contemporary band at her church, but writes “I will never get back up on the stage to sing again.”

“I’m honestly shocked and upset that this happened at church,” she wrote. “I should feel accepted and loved and now I don’t want to go back to that church.”

The pastor of Swansboro United Methodist Church, G. Kevin Baker, provided Yahoo Lifestyle with a statement that was sent to the community on Tuesday. Jenna also added the letter as an update to her thread.

“It has come to our attention that great harm has been done in an incident that occurred this past Sunday where a faithful and very gifted young lady and worship leader was body shaming for her appearance,” the statement reads. “We are shocked and saddened by this act. The Church is supposed to be a place of safety, love and acceptance.”

According to Jenna’s thread, the pastor told her that Sue won’t be working in any sort of committee or in any leadership role at the church ever again. In an email to Yahoo Lifestyle, Baker also noted that Sue and is a church member and not an employee.

Beyond the pastor’s support, however, Jenna has received an outpouring of love from thousands of Twitter users — including actress and body positive activist Jameela Jamil.

Jamil also retweeted the video onto her own page where she made a statement about the “daily harassment people receive over their size.”

“Even at the hands of people old enough to know better. Even in sacred places. Even in their own doctor’s practices,” she wrote. “Our hypernormalization of policing and ridiculing fat bodies is what leads to this brazen bullying.”

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