This Woman Went Viral For Revealing She Changed Into Large Sweats After A Guy Took Photos Of Her At The Gym, And It's Starting An Important Conversation

This is Stephanie Lim, a 22-year-old nursing student in California who was washing her hands after a workout in her local gym when another woman rushed into the bathroom to offer a warning: There was a guy sneaking pictures of her.

In a now-viral video after the incident — which has been viewed over 2.6 million times — Stephanie stitched together a pre-workout clip of her admiring her gym fit before covering her body in an oversized sweatshirt in reaction to finding out about the unwanted photos:

@vniel

please be safe out here ladies.. i would have never thought this would ever happen to me but it did.. #fyp #citysports #foryoupage

♬ ANOTHER DAY - PARTYNEXTDOOR

"Here's what I first wore to the gym," she said.

  TikTok: @vniel / Via tiktok.com
TikTok: @vniel / Via tiktok.com

"And this is why I had to change..." she continued before the camera switches to show Stephanie as she approached gym staff and shared her story.

  TikTok: @vniel / Via tiktok.com
TikTok: @vniel / Via tiktok.com

"So, I went to the bathroom and this girl came inside and she told me that a guy, who's wearing an orange sweater, she was behind him and he was taking pictures of me," Stephanie explained before beginning to choke up. "I'm going to cry."

  TikTok: @vniel / Via tiktok.com
TikTok: @vniel / Via tiktok.com

Stephanie goes on to explain that she doesn't want to confront the man directly out of fear of retaliation, but offers a description. "If he took a picture, we need to get his phone and delete it," a staff member can be heard saying. "So I'm going to talk to management right now."

The group of voices can be heard reassuring Stephanie and promising to protect her.

The group of voices can be heard reassuring Stephanie and promising to protect her. "If this happens again, let us know. Front desk or whoever is here will help you out," one person says before hugging Stephanie and expressing a sense of connection with the worried young woman. "You're like my daughter!"

TikTok: @vniel / Via tiktok.com

Thinking back on the experience, Stephanie told BuzzFeed that she felt a combination of shock, sadness, and disgust. "I never thought it would happen to me," she said. "I feel comfortable working out in a sports bra and spandex because it's what makes me feel good in the gym. I feel confident in my body and I wear that outfit for myself. To find out a guy had pictures or videos of me doing a workout without my consent just made me uncomfortable — knowing that he was looking at me a certain way in an outfit that was supposed to make me feel good."

Originally, the 22-year-old said she wasn't going to inform staff members. "I honestly was just going to go home and pretend like nothing happened because I was really scared," she said. "But I thought about something more than myself... if I didn't say or do something, this guy could continue to do it to other females in my gym and I was not OK with that, no matter how shy or scared I was. I wanted to ensure that no other female had to go through with what I went through there."

Dumbbell, water bottle, towel on the bench in the gym.

After offering a description to staff, they told Stephanie they would provide an update, but the man left and has not been seen back since, she said.

Amnajkhetsamtip / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Thousands of commenters commended both Stephanie for speaking up and the staff for listening. Unfortunately, many also shared their own experiences with different men taking photos or videos of them at the gym without permission, showing that this is far from uncommon...

  TikTok: @vniel / Via tiktok.com
TikTok: @vniel / Via tiktok.com
An old man took pics of my sister while we were hanging outside of a restaurant. When I noticed. I LOST IT. Guy was so embarrassed he me his whole family leave the restaurant. I honestly don't event remember what I said because I blacked out in anger
TikTok: @vniel / Via tiktok.com
Exact thing happened to my friend and I at the gym. An old man was taking pics of us and a guy friend of mine saw and told us right away
TikTok: @vniel / Via tiktok.com
  TikTok: @vniel / Via tiktok.com
TikTok: @vniel / Via tiktok.com

...and the discomfort that accompanies the thought of returning to the same gym after this happens led one user to express a need for women-only gyms.

WE NEED MORE ONLY GIRL GYMS!!

The concept isn't new, and all-women gyms have caused quite a controversy in the past when their openings left some men feeling as though the facilities represented a form of segregation that "went against equality."

TikTok: @vniel / Via tiktok.com

When speaking to Stephanie about her experience, she said, "It's sad that women have to face something like this when a gym is supposed to be a safe space for them to do something they love. ... I do love the idea of women-only gyms, but I have friends that are male that have been a part of my gym journey and are genuinely encouraging and mean well."

"I love going to gyms that are inclusive because I feel like there is so much that we can learn from each other and be able to support one another. I believe that ANYONE, whether male or female, who is unable to come to the gym with respect for other people and their privacy and gym journey should be reprimanded," she said.

"I think gyms should make a 'No photos or videos of other people without their permission' policy and incorporate it into their contracts when people sign up for their gyms," Stephanie concluded. "I want more consequences and preventive measures because this is a problem that occurs way too often."

In the meantime, Stephanie said she will continue wearing whatever she wants to the gym. "Although it took me a minute to feel comfortable in my gym again, I still continue to wear my sports bra and spandex outfits because I wasn't going to let anyone change what I like and feel confident in. Wear what you want! The whole purpose of the gym is to encourage you to feel good about yourself and your body, and if wearing revealing gym clothes is part of it, so be it!"

If you'd like to keep up with Stephanie, you can follow her on TikTok.