Church Leader Fat-Shames Teen, Who Fights Back Beautifully

fat shaming naturalJenna 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.)

Remember that no matter what size someone is, and no matter what they are wearing (looking at you, People of Walmart apologists), fat-shaming is never ok, and being fat is always ok.

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8 thoughts on “Church Leader Fat-Shames Teen, Who Fights Back Beautifully

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this story! I am so incredibly proud and moved by this person coming out so loudly and clearly in their own defense, even especially with their voice shaking and full of tears. That is one glorious, powerful voice she is using to show self-love and self-respect with!

  2. Poor girl. It’s really terrible what some people can do. But she was brave and stood for herself, that’s amazing.

  3. Jenna’s Mom and Stepdad are wonderful people who happened to be groomspeople in our wedding! I’m going to send this to them, if you don’t mind. Her mom and I were devastated to hear the pain in Jenna’s voice, but I know all of the support has meant the world to them.

  4. What an amazing young woman. Not just standing up for herself in a moment of pain, but then being willing to reconcile and heal. Thanks for sharing this.

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