Jenna went to church to sing and celebrate as a worship leader in the contemporary band at her Methodist Church. But then Sister Bonnie-Better-Than-You of the Church of Fatphobia went to work.
Bonnie somehow believed that being a “Church Leader” involved following a 19 year old into the bathroom (where the girl had gone to see if there were any updates on a hospitalized family member,) to wag a fatphobic finger at her and tell her things like “Don’t come back on that stage with those shorts. I’m warning you.”
People are going to want to see the shorts and I’ll leave a picture, secure in the knowledge that we all understand that any argument that contains “she’s not even that fat” is harmful and fatphobic.
Bonnie’s behavior would never, ever be ok, but is even more inappropriate in this situation because, as another church member pointed out, this is a “contemporary service” that is youth-focused and “guests are encouraged to come as they are.”
But this story takes a turn for the better – quick-thinking Jenna turned on her cellphone video to capture the abuse, and gave herself and her body a full-throated defense. It was emotional, and profanity-laced, and absolutely beautiful (if you’re thinking about tone-policing, rethink, and then don’t.) Despite the power and age differential that Bonnie Busy Body was trying to exploit, through tears and sobs, in a situation that should NEVER have happened to her, Jenna defended herself fiercely and fearlessly. The video can be found here, trigger warnings for fatphobia and abuse of a position of power.
For a horrible story that should never have happened, it has the happiest possible ending. The church issued a letter of apology that was crystal clear that Bonnie was wrong and did “great harm,” Jenna said that her pastor promised her that Bonnie “will never be able to be on any sort of committee/any leadership role in our church ever again. (Jenna has asked that people not attack her church, as they are working to fix the problem.)
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