Kim Cruz Gets Real About Posting *Those* Screenshots: ‘I was scared I’d be shamed’

Cookies By The Bucket is under fire for their management’s reported inappropriate behavior.
PHOTO: Instagram/KimCrooz

On Friday, June 19, ESPN host and social media influencer Kim Cruz tweeted, “I was scared to post this but with all these brave women posting their #HijaAko stories, I think it’s time to speak up.” Her post contained alleged screenshots of Cookies By The Bucket staff exchanging private addresses and numbers of influencers they’ve hired to promote the brand. Cookies By The Bucket is a local business with kiosks distributed in the city. They're known for their affordable freshly baked cookies served in a takeout-friendly container.

The screenshots didn’t only contain personal information, but also lewd messages describing a photo of Kim. In one particular conversation, someone shared a snapshot of her wearing a purple top with a blanket across her lap. The replies that followed insinuated she was only wearing underwear underneath, with the message "sarap tangalin [sic] nung kumot."  

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An Anonymous Tip

It’s common practice for businesses to hire influencers to post on their behalf on social media, and this is how Cookies By The Bucket acquired Kim’s address and number in April this year. On June 18, a fellow influencer, Jamina Cruz, notified Kim that someone wanted to reach out: “[Jamina] messaged me and said, someone wants to talk to you because they claim that there are screenshots from Cookies By The Bucket. They're using your address and your number in the chat [group of] the executives, and they're talking about it in a malicious manner,” Kim told Cosmopolitan Philippines. The informant was a former student baker who sent the proof via Instagram.

“All she said was, I was a victim of them and I don't want this to happen to you also,” explained Kim, who said the ex-baker never told her how she acquired those screenshots. Kim knows who sent the lewd comments but she opted not to reveal any names in her post, as advised by her lawyer.

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Locker Room Talk

When Kim found out about the leaked screenshots on June 18, she posted about them on the same day without naming Cookies By The Bucket. “[It] was anonymous, because I was advised by my lawyer and my [family] to not drop the name of the company first. There were nicknames in the chat, so we can't really tell who it's from. [But afterwards], [one of the people in the chat group] sent me a message, basically admitting to everything. And I think that was enough proof that I needed,” Kim said. The guy told Kim that these were private messages that were leaked and apologized to her. “In my head, even if it's a private message, you’re sending my private info to another person or other people. Also, you're talking about women in this manner, and you think it's okay,” she shared. 

“I got messages from women saying, ‘Maybe it's because of the way you dress.’ Men even say, ‘Oh, she deserves it because she dresses that way.’ And I think that's the problem here." 

Kim brought up the concept of “locker room talk” during our phone interview: It’s the whole “boys will be boys” mentality, which is too often used as an excuse to defend men’s actions when they say sexist comments and objectify women. 

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Towards the end of their correspondence, the guy suggested setting an agreement and meeting up. “That kind of offended me, I guess, because that sounded terrible to say to someone," Kim opened up. "I just don't think that the apology was genuine because it was basically him trying to make sure I won't drop the company's name.” 

“I didn't respond to him. And then the next day I saw all of the messages of people because [they] were trying to guess already who it was, and then I got messages from girls saying it’s happened before. And that’s what made me mad I guess. I was advised by all my friends to do it already. Me and the girls [who also got affected] talked—Kim Baranda and Jamina Cruz. We actually have a group chat, and we all agreed to post it together.” 

An Instagram Story posted by influencer Jamina Cruz about her collaboration with Cookies By The Bucket
An Instagram Story posted by Jamina Cruz, showing a screenshot of her correspondence with a rep from Cookies By The Bucket. Courtesy of Kim Cruz
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An Instagram Story posted by influencer Kim Baranda about her collaboration with Cookies By The Bucket
An Instagram Story posted by Kim Baranda, where she reminds her friends and followers to be careful when sending their personal info to people. Courtesy of Kim Cruz

#HijaAko Movement

Kim said reading through the posts from the #HijaAko movement actually helped her feel so much more comfortable sharing her story.

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The #HijaAko hashtag started in June when Frankie Pangilinan tweeted, "STOP TEACHING GIRLS HOW TO DRESS?? TEACH PEOPLE NOT TO RAPE” in response to a now-deleted Facebook post by the Lucban Municipal Police Station. It advised girls to avoid wearing short clothes so they won’t get sexually harassed. 

“I think that’s why most women are scared also because they're scared to be shamed—which is actually true. And I guess, also scared because they don’t think anything will happen if they do share their stories.”

TV and radio personality Ben Tulfo tweeted back and said, "Hija @kakiep83, a rapist or a juvenile sex offender's desire to commit a crime will always be there. All they need is an opportunity when to commit the crime. Sexy ladies, careful with the way you dress up! You are inviting the beast." Frankie replied, "Rape culture is real and a product of this precise line of thinking, where the behavior is normalized, particularly by men...The way anyone dresses should not be deemed as 'opportunity' to sexually assault them. Ever. Calling me hija will not belittle my point." Soon, the #HijaAko hashtag was born.

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Kim told Cosmopolitan that after she shared her story, many others followed suit. “Even the ex-HR staff who worked for them stepped up. [She] said so many women in [their] company are experiencing this and no one ever talked about it because [they] were scared. And now so many people are coming out and sharing their stories.”

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On June 19, Cookies By The Bucket’s CEO posted a message on their Facebook page that they “investigated the matter and fired the people involved.” Soon after, it was announced that the CEO was stepping down. Those two posts have been taken down as of this writing. 

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“I was scared I’d be shamed.”

Kim explained that she was initially hesitant to talk publicly about what happened: “I think it's because, first of all, my pictures were in the chats, and I felt uncomfortable even reading through them. But that's also one of the factors why I didn't want to post it in the first place because I was scared I'd be shamed.”

"I'm not gonna say I'm a strong person, but I can say that these things I've experienced with men turned me into a stronger person and this actually didn't make me hide my bikini posts or anything." 

Kim here is alluding to her social media posts, where she unapologetically and confidently flaunts her body. “For men, when they see a girl post bikini photos, they automatically assume that you're easy, or that they can message you. For me, it's such a bad mentality. I mean, I'm not gonna say I'm a strong person, but I can say that these things I've experienced with men, specifically, turned me into a stronger person and this actually didn't make me hide my bikini posts or anything. 

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“I always get messages from men or I always get these offers or I get harassed and things like these, just because I dress the way I do or post the way I do. 

“And even some women—which made me so sad; I got messages from women saying ‘Maybe it's because of the way you dress.’ For men, [they] even say ‘Oh, she deserves it because she dresses that way.’ And I think that's the problem here. I was afraid to post [at first] because in my photo there, I was wearing a tank top. I was sitting on a couch with a blanket covering my lower body. And the men sexualized it and said, ‘Oh, she's probably wearing underwear under that,’ which just shows you that it's not even the fault of the women. No matter how I was dressed, even if I was wearing a sweater or whatever, it’s just the mentality of men and they think it’s okay to talk about women this way because other men do it.

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“I think that’s why most women are scared also because they're scared to be shamed—which is actually true. And I guess, also scared because they don’t think anything will happen if they do share their stories.”

Kim told Cosmopolitan Philippines that she personally feels so much better now compared to Day 1, when she wasn’t speaking openly about it yet. The outpour of support and kindred spirits online encouraged her to tweet this on June 19: 

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I think girls just need encouragement to speak up. They’re just scared, they’re just afraid, and they don’t know what to do about these things, and they think it’s normal until someone calls it out and someone says something about it.”

Cosmopolitan Philippines contacted the Cookies By The Bucket management for a response to the allegations via their official email and social media pages. They have not responded as of this writing.  

Follow Jillian on Instagram.

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