Two panel image. Left panel shows an older white woman wearing a red dress pointing a finger while holding open a wooden door. On the right is an ethnic woman smiling at the camera.

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Video of teen being body-shamed by church leader resurfaces, prompting an update 2 years later

'I stopped going to church, really.'

 

Jennifer Xia

Internet Culture

Published Sep 9, 2021   Updated Sep 9, 2021, 9:00 am CDT

A viral video of a church member body-shaming a teenager in North Carolina is once again making the rounds online, two years after it was initially posted. The resurfacing of the video has prompted a video update from the girl who was body-shamed in it.

Jenna Munger, 19 years old at the time, posted the video being body-shamed to Twitter on June 30, 2019, with the caption: “This woman followed me into the bathroom and attacked me, calling me fat and that I couldn’t wear jean shorts because I was too fat.”

The woman, Bonnie Sue Bihary, a past delegate to the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, later resigned from any leadership roles within the church, according to a statement released by the Swansboro United Methodist Church. When the video went viral once again via Reddit, Munger posted an update Wednesday sharing how she was doing years later.

“I haven’t really seen Bonnie Sue since then,” Munger said in her latest video. “I stopped going to church really, kind of discovering myself right now.”

The original video Munger shared two years ago showed Bihary telling Munger not to come back on stage in the jean shorts she was wearing. 

“That’s your problem,” Bihary said. “I do give a shit. But you don’t. Obviously.”

Munger shared photos of her outfit that day, which included jean shorts that ended mid-thigh and a long-sleeve maroon shirt with the definition of agape on the back: “God’s unconditional and unending love.”

“She was telling everyone that this was my fault and that I will never get back up on stage to sing again,” Munger wrote on Twitter back in 2019. “I should feel accepted and loved and now I don’t want to go back to that church. I love singing in the contemporary band with my friends and being up onstage and praising God with other people.”

In Munger’s update, she said the church did everything they could at the time. She even warned the church about the second wave of people discovering the video. 

“I’m still in contact with my pastors,” Munger said. “They are still absolutely wonderful, and if I ever needed to go to them, they always have their door open for me.”

Munger was flooded with comments from people who saw her video on Reddit, offering words of solidarity and support. 

“You’re amazing,” one user commented. “You showed such courage in standing up for yourself in the middle of an outrageous moment.”

Others shared their own experiences within their churches and commented on the dangers of church leaders abusing their power. 

“Unfortunately, my friend’s child DIED BY SUICIDE from this exact type of position of authority, church leadership abuse,” one user commented. “This abusive woman isolated you in the bathroom to inflict her abuse onto you in private. This is WRONG and she KNOWS it. You are SO BRAVE to fight back with affirming words, to tell her she has NNOO right to abuse you.”

Munger shared in her update that Bihary had actually “tried to push (her) family’s buttons” and “get close to them” over the past few years but finally stopped. 

“I just want to say welcome and thank you to the people who are coming from Reddit and discovering my video right now,” Munger said. “Thank you for reaching out to me and sharing the love because I really appreciate that.”

The Daily Dot has reached out to Munger and Swansboro United Methodist Church.


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*First Published: Sep 9, 2021, 8:59 am CDT