Last July, Mathers, 30, surreptitiously photographed a naked 71-year-old in the locker room of an LA Fitness gym and posted the image to Snapchat with the caption: “If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either.” It showed a picture of the woman’s backside, along with a selfie of Mathers, clad in workout gloves and a white Nike tank top, covering her mouth in feigned disgust.
On Wednesday, Mathers pleaded no contest to misdemeanor invasion of privacy in connection with the Snapchat post, which drew widespread condemnation on social media and led to criminal charges against her last fall.
As punishment, a judge in Los Angeles County Superior Court ordered her to spend 30 days scrubbing graffiti around the city. She was also sentenced to three years’ probation.
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, who handled the closely watched case, said in a statement: “The issues that surround body shaming can be devastating — not only to daughters and mothers, but also to sons and fathers, members of the LGBTQ community, to a trans kid who might be struggling with identity, to people who are disabled. The message today is clear: body shaming is not tolerated in the City of Los Angeles.”
Mathers had faced up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. She initially pleaded not guilty.
“I think she wanted to be done with this and accept responsibility for what occurred,” her attorney, Dana Cole, told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.
Backlash to Mathers’s post was swift and severe. As one Twitter user put it: “#DaniMathers is the kind of ugly Photoshop can’t fix.”
When LA Fitness caught wind of the post, it banned Mathers from all 800 of its gyms, then told police that Mathers had photographed a fellow gym-goer in the locker room.
Mathers apologized, saying she intended to send the picture privately to a friend. She then deleted her social media accounts for several months.
“I know that body-shaming is wrong,” she said. “That is not the type of person I am.”
Detectives from the LAPD’s sexual assault section investigated after receiving a report of “illegal distribution” of the image. California law makes it a misdemeanor to use a camera in places such as locker rooms “with the intent to invade the privacy of a person.” The law also bars distribution of images of a person’s “intimate body part or parts” without consent.
The woman in the photograph was never publicly identified. But prosecutors, who did manage to track her down, said the woman was mortified when she learned about Mathers’s post.
“Body shaming can devastate its subject,” Feuer, the city attorney, told the Associated Press. “People are mocked, they’re humiliated and in ways they can never fully get back.”