Dana Carvey's classic SNL character "The Church Lady" was meant to be a scathing caricature of judgemental holier-than-thou church elders.
It was never intended to be an example to aspire to.
Apparently Miss Bonnie Sue of the Swansboro United Methodist Church didn't get that memo.
See, Miss Bonnie Sue believes it's appropriate to follow young women into the restroom and tell them they're too fat to wear shorts. We have no idea how many times she's done this in the past. But we know she won't be doing it again thanks to her latest victim, Jenna.
Bonnie Sue picked the wrong one when she messed with Jenna.
The story starts on a Sunday that seemed to be going just like any other. Jenna was up on stage singing with the praise and worship team when she stepped off to go to the bathroom.
Behind her came Bonnie Sue, a church leader/elder who has often spoken on the church's behalf at conferences and speaking engagements. Bonnie Sue cornered Jenna by following her into the bathroom to tell her:
"Fat girls don't wear shorts."
Jenna was caught off guard, but had the presence of mind to whip out her phone and start recording the interaction from there.
The video starts as Bonnie begins describing what another "chubby" person is wearing and how it's more appropriate. Jenna clarifies her meaning by asking Bonnie if she is calling her fat.
Bonnie Sue infuriatingly responds by putting her hands on her hips, sassily bending her knee and quipping:
"Oh, you don't think you are?!?"
Jenna is clearly upset, but through a cracking voice she defends herself and tells Bonnie Sue all about how much she loves herself and how Bonnie has no right to try and tell her what she can and cannot wear. There were a few well-earned f bombs in Jenna's retort.
Bonnie completely ignores the content of what Jenna has said and instead tries to police her language, wagging her finger at Jenna and telling her not to swear at her.
Jenna replies with a powerful:
"I don't give a sh!t"
Bonnie fires back:
"I do. That's your problem. I do give a sh*t, but you don't - obviously. Don't come back on that stage with those shorts. I'm warning you."
Jenna questions who Bonnie is (Bonnie defiantly points to her chest and says "you can read my name tag.") that she thinks she can dictate the wardrobe of another adult. Through tears Jenna reminds her that she's an adult and can wear what she wants. Bonnie dares her "try it."
And then Bonnie pulls the most quintessential faux-victim move ever. After clearly hurting Jenna, body shaming her, threatening her with "warnings" and daring her to "try it," Bonnie walks out of the bathroom, straight up to two other elders who were standing in the hallway and reports Jenna for using foul language towards her.
Somehow Bonnie Sue has decided that she is the victim here.
Or at least that she didn't like being stood up to and was going to make sure Jenna was punished for it.
Jenna, however, wasn't going down without a fight. She met with church leaders, showed them (and her family) the video and posted it on Twitter just to make sure it didn't get swept under the rug.
Here's Jenna's tweet.
That tweet blew up, so she made sure to share some follow-up thoughts as well as the church's response.
She started with a typed message to further explain the situation.
"This woman followed me into the bathroom and attacked me because I was wearing jean shorts... she told me 'fat girls don't wear shorts' and continued to call me fat. I want you to realize that THIS WAS AT CHURCH!!!!"
"She cornered me in the bathroom to say that I was too fat... she was telling everyone that this was my fault and that I will never get back up on stage to sing again.. IS THIS WHAT CHRISTIANS ARE DOING NOW ADAYS!!! GOD LOVES EVERYONE NO MATTER WHO THEY ARE!"
"Luckily I started recording her so that my pastor can see the real side of her because she loves to be two faced and act all holy. I'm honestly shocked and upset that this happened at church... 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 on stage and praising God with other people. ALSO I FORGOT TO MENTION THAT SHE IS A LEADER IN OUR CHURCH AND ACTUALLY SPEAKS ON THE BEHALF OF OUR CHURCH AT DIFFERENT CONFERENCES!!!!!"
"My pastor said that she will never be able to be on any sort of committee/ any leadership role in our church ever again. Also my mother bought me these shorts and she would never let me walk out of the house, let alone go to church, with booty shorts."
"I'll post a picture of my outfit too... I'm absolutely astonished that someone can have this much hate in their heart..."
As promised, she posted pictures of the outfit, serving up multiple angles and then continuing to share her thoughts and updates.:
People were furious and rallied around Jenna with tons of support.
Young women receive a lot of messages about who they and what they should be and do. The book Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be, available here, offers tips for tuning out the noise.
One person had a message for Bonnie Sue: