Girl body shamed at church

chansen

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This is a rather heartbreaking story about judgment and adult intimidation in church. A 19-year-old choir member was accosted in the ladies washroom at church by an older female member of the church and told not to show up in shorts again, as she was a "bigger girl". The girl, rightly, lost it on the woman. And, thankfully, she recorded the whole thing, while the older woman seemed unable to process how inappropriate she was being, nor able to predict the fallout from any such video posted online. It went only a tad viral, but viral enough.



The woman, Bonnie Sue Bihary, has "voluntarily" stepped down from all church leadership positions and offered an apology to the young woman, who has accepted. But the episode has brought out some comments online where it is posted about this type of behaviour being a common catalyst for leaving the church.
 

BetteTheRed

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I don't understand this obsession with what one looks like, or dresses like. I honestly see no correlation between chosen attire/"look" and personal integrity, not even a negative correlation. Some lucky people seem compelled to do a good job at the "best face forward" thing; most of us are less successful. I have a sister who would look put together in a flour sack. Put me in a $10 000 dress and I'll look disheveled in a heartbeat.
 

chansen

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I think it's unfortunate that there is so much attention on Bonnie Sue Bihary and not enough on all the other Bonnie Sue Biharys out there. People are talking about them, but Bonnie Sue would not be singled out here if it wasn't for the young woman's quick thinking to record the encounter. Without that recording and it going viral, this becomes a small internal matter. Instead, it has a chance of making a difference by putting all the other Bonnie Sues on notice.
 
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My mother said something similar the other day. I'm a good 20 lbs at least overweight right now. Some of it packed on or settled in when I broke my knee. And also my walker slowed down my cardio exercise. There wasn't much to do for 8-9 weeks and even after then I had to be careful. I also could've watched my diet better.

Anyway...my mom told me she was concerned I was overweight. I shot back with "Well, I'm still not as big as you." To which she was taken aback for a second. She was probably holding back on slapping me across the face. That's what she would've done when I was a teen.

I've gone from size 10 to size 13 in 3 years. She's been size 15 for many years. She dresses well and doesn't look "fat"...but her comment just pissed me off.

When I was 16, heading out into the backyard in my bathing suit, she said, "looks like you're getting a fat ass just like your father." Yup.

The older generation seems to feel entitled to make such judgments like they are normal.

In my experience, "church lady"culture is like this. That woman is an extreme example. But the busy body gossip, criticisms over superficial things, and bossiness is the same. The thing is they are the backbone of running churches, and they are members in good standing, so it gets tolerated.





:)
 

BetteTheRed

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I think you've got a stereotype going on here, my dear. I'm a late middle-aged 'church lady', and I don't know these people you caricature. We do judge people on how eagerly you clean up a mess in the kitchen, though, so we're not perfect.

70-80 year old rich white women, I get. They're a global minority, and not an interesting idea group to me. You might suggest to your mother that she grow up before she dies, because I've got a distinct opinion that the quality of your internal conversation improves your experience after death, but I know nothing.
 
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It’s like the “mean girls” got out of high school and still needed a mean girl club to belong to, and they’ve been doing it ever since.
 
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I think you've got a stereotype going on here, my dear. I'm a late middle-aged 'church lady', and I don't know these people you caricature. We do judge people on how eagerly you clean up a mess in the kitchen, though, so we're not perfect.

70-80 year old rich white women, I get. They're a global minority, and not an interesting idea group to me. You might suggest to your mother that she grow up before she dies, because I've got a distinct opinion that the quality of your internal conversation improves your experience after death, but I know nothing.
Well, not exactly a stereotype because I’ve witnessed it. It wasn’t nearly to that degree though. She was harassing that poor girl, cornered in the bathroom. That was flat out abuse.
 
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My mother is an atheist. She’s found her mean girl club elsewhere. Actually, she would never put down other women’s appearances to their faces (but would behind their backs), only me.

I feel guilty for bringing it up, though. So I will refrain.






:(
 
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JRT

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As a retired high school teacher I am quite familiar with mean girls. It is also far more dangerous to break up a cat fight than to deal with two Neandertals beating on each other.
 
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I’m not sure I believe that, @BetteTheRed. I would never say that. That’s like telling someone they’re going to hell. I understand that she is a wounded soul herself, who grew up with abuse herself. She deflected it onto me. It’s just rather hard to be both understanding of her and to be the constant recipient of her mean streak. My inner dialogue can be judgmental too...even my outward dialogue can be too judgmental sometimes, but, in my mind at least - its for more substantial reasons. Ie. I will laugh at fat orange jokes involving Trump...but it’s really neither because he’s fat, nor is it because he’s orange.




:)
 
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As a retired high school teacher I am quite familiar with mean girls. It is also far more dangerous to break up a cat fight than to deal with two Neandertals beating on each other.
Not sure about that. I’ve seen both types of fights.
 

ninjafaery

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I long for the day when women no longer shame one another, especially mothers and daughters...even out of concern. My mother, bless her heart, used to greet me saying things like, " I don't think I've ever seen you look so fat!". She just didn't want to see me "let myself go" like she did (too late). Looking back (mum is long gone) I realize the toll that took over the years. The harshness, fear, shame, embarrasment of her era around women's bodies was so damaging, and got passed along. Where does anyone get off addressing someone like that? Even your own family.
 

BetteTheRed

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I worry about my children if they seem unhealthy, physically or psychically. All of them, especially the two youngest, are terribly prone to losing weight. My daughter, in particular, seems to have a predeliction for pneumonia; I'm always listening for that dreaded whistling sound when she's around.

Thanks to my mother, my two sisters are a little weight/diet obsessed. Doesn't appear to make them happier, lighter or fitter, so I say nothing.
 

Mrs.Anteater

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my experience, "church lady"culture is like this. That woman is an extreme example. But the busy body gossip, criticisms over superficial things, and bossiness is the same. The thing is they are the backbone of running churches, and they are members in good standing, so it gets tolerated.
I would agree that my experience is there isn’t a system in churches to control these or other bad behaviours. But this might also be the same in golf clubs, Lion clubs or other organizations. Once a person makes him/ herself important for a group, there might be a greater tolerance for things that should not be tolerated.
 
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@BetteTheRed re: adult children's health - I'm not morbidly obese. I'm not even obese. I'm just overweight. Nor is she, though she's been closer. Everybody knows it's better not to be. And she bloody well knows I'm already self conscious about my appearance, she knows that I know I've gained weight because I recently mentioned having to get a few new summer clothes because of it, and I'm already consciously changing my diet. I'm not eating what they are eating. She's jealous, or some emotion near jealously - spite - not concerned for my well being. I can see it on her face and hear it in her tone.







:(
 
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I would agree that my experience is there isn’t a system in churches to control these or other bad behaviours. But this might also be the same in golf clubs, Lion clubs or other organizations. Once a person makes him/ herself important for a group, there might be a greater tolerance for things that should not be tolerated.
I agree. It's a personality type not isolated to a particular community. Though, a community historically based around judgment as a principle may make it more likely in churches for some people to train their minds to be more judgmental, or brings out that side of us all, more.. When I first started going to church I felt myself becoming some kind of goody-goody with a snobbery about what constitutes right and wrong, more than I had been before...then I realized that was wrong and I was better in that regard, before...and that it's more important to look at the big picture and the root causes of real injustice, and not try to nitpick and pretend to be perfect and expect the same of others because that's hypocritical.




:(
 
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