Church offers apology after teen 'fat-shamed' by congregation leader

A teenager claims she was fat-shamed at church when a congregation leader followed her into the bathroom on Sunday.

Jenna, 19, from the US state of North Carolina, shared a video on Twitter capturing the moment a woman named Bonnie Sue confronted her in the bathroom of Swansboro United Methodist Church and said, Fat girls don’t wear shorts”.

Jenna was approached by another churchgoer and harassed for wearing shorts. Source: Twitter.

When the clip starts, Ms 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?” Ms Sue counters, “Oh, you don’t think you are?”

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

“Don’t come back on that stage with those shorts,” Ms 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 with a statement that was sent to the community on Tuesday.

Jenna also added the letter as an update to her thread.

The Pastor of the church said he was "shocked and saddened" by the ordeal. Source Twitter.

“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 shamed 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 Ms 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, Mr Baker also noted that Ms Sue and is a church member and not an employee.

Jenna shared the photos and video to Twitter after the incident. Source: Twitter

Beyond the pastor’s support, however, Jenna has received an outpouring of love from thousands on Twitter — 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 hypernormalisation of policing and ridiculing fat bodies is what leads to this brazen bullying.”

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