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A video shows a 19-year-old being followed into the bathroom at her church and berated for wearing jean shorts. An older woman suggested she was too fat to wear the shorts and told her she shouldn't come back on the stage in them. The teen, Jenna, tried to explain through tears that she loved herself and repeatedly told the woman to leave. "I'm honestly shocked and upset that this happened at church," Jenna wrote in a note posted on Twitter. "I should feel accepted and loved and now I don't want to go back to that church." The Swansboro United Methodist Church, in Swansboro, North Carolina, said in a statement that it was "shocked and saddened by this act."
Jenna, 19, from Swansboro, North Carolina, was in the bathroom of her church when a woman body-shamed her.
Jenna shared a video she recorded of the exchange at the Swansboro United Methodist Church on Twitter over the weekend, saying in the tweet that the woman followed her into the bathroom to say she "couldn't wear jean shorts because I was too fat."
At the beginning of the video, the woman could be heard saying, "She's a chubby girl, she's got a dress on that's appropriate," apparently referring to another member of the church.
Jenna responds, "So you're sitting here calling me fat?" to which the woman says, "Oh, you don't think you are?"
Jenna, through tears, repeatedly tells the woman to leave her alone. But rather than leave, the woman doubles down on her criticism.
"Don't come back on that stage with those shorts," she says. "I'm warning you."
Getting more upset, Jenna asks the woman who she thinks she is to tell her what to do, but the woman just repeatedly tells her not to swear.
In follow-up posts, Jenna explained the situation further and added some photos of the outfit she was wearing.
"I'm honestly shocked and upset that this happened at church," she wrote in a note. "I should feel accepted and loved and now I don't want to go back to that church."
She added: "I'm absolutely astonished that someone can have this much hate in their heart."
Jenna said she told her pastor, who told her the woman would never be allowed to be part of any church committee or in a leadership role again.
The church said in a statement shared on Twitter and Facebook that while one of its principles is to "do no harm," it had come to its attention that "great harm has been done."
"A faithful and very gifted young lady and worship leader was body shamed for her appearance," it said. "We are shocked and saddened by this act. The Church is supposed to be a place of safety, love and acceptance."
The statement continued: "We are currently working to assure that nothing like this will happen again and will update the church on specific next steps we are taking soon."
On Tuesday, Jenna uploaded a video in a tweet that said "Be kind just love," where she thanked people for their love and support and asked them to stop searching for the woman on social media and sending hateful comments.
"I want everyone to understand I do not hate her," she said. "I do not hate that woman in the video, and I will never hate her, because that's not what God told us to do. Instead, I forgive her."
Thousands of people responded to Jenna's first post, which had about 145,000 likes on Twitter as of Wednesday. Some replied to the tweet with photos of themselves in shorts to show their support.
"Can't wait to be back on stage with you this weekend, rocking those jean shorts," Jenna's friend Molly wrote. "For anyone that has been following Jenna's story, our church services are live streamed on the church facebook page.
Hope you all can tune in and show your support. Maybe even wear some jean shorts."
Jameela Jamil, an actress known for her body-positivity activism, also shared the video, adding that people receive this kind of harassment daily.
"Even at the hands of people old enough to know better," she wrote. "Even in sacred places. Even in their own doctor's practices.
Our hypernormalization of policing and ridiculing fat bodies is what leads to this brazen bullying."