"[I] understand why people might want us not to continue filming this couple. This reason we keep on is that we have seen similar 'train wrecks' turn around. For example, go to the season in Boston and look at Shawniece and [Jephte]," Pepper wrote in a since-deleted post that was captured in screenshots by @mafsfan Instagram account.
"It's miserable to watch in the beginning but [Jephte] turns around -- breaks down, changes the way he approaches his wife and his life, and the changes are both life changing and inspirational. They are happily married now with a beautiful child."
Pepper continued, "Granted this is exceptional -- but it does happen, and so we watch things play out. Even if the couple doesn't get together, at least one person can grow and gain strength and know more about who she or he is and what they want in a partner."
Many Married at First Sight fans were outraged that Pepper compared Chris, a man criticized for being sexist and narcissistic, to Jephte, who is now a popular and well-liked MAFS husband and father and currently appears on the show's Married at First Sight: Couples Cam spinoff with Shawniece.
Speculation therefore swirled that Pepper deleted her statement due to the backlash.
But Shawniece posted an Instagram Live video in defense of Pepper's statement, and the Season 6 MAFS alum captioned her 12-minute video, "My family is well. A word from Shawniece."
"I woke up to something that was kind of disturbing. I was tied to this stuff and it's just crazy, so I decided to come on [Instagram] to talk... and say what I have to say," Shawniece began.
After confirming her family is "thriving" and "doing great," Shawniece said she's been trying to keep up with the twelfth season of Married at First Sight, although she's a little behind with the episodes.
"We try to mind our business as much as possible because we can't speak on things that we don't know, and I'm big on that... These are real people going through a real experience and living their real lives," Shawniece said.
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Shawniece insisted of her marriage to Jephte, "It wasn't the easiest thing but it wasn't the worst thing either. I've seen Dr. Pepper's statement. I know a lot of people [were] upset because [she] compared our relationship [to Chris and Paige]."
She continued, "So what I'm going to say is, no, Chris and Paige's relationship is not Shawniece and Jephte. It's not the same marriage and it's not anything like that. They are their own unique marriage and we are our own unique marriage."
"However, what Dr. Pepper was saying -- and I can vouch for this -- she was saying that it was hard to watch because, yes, in the beginning of our marriage, from y'all point of view... it was hard to watch."
As Married at First Sight fans may recall, Jephte -- just like Chris -- was not attracted to his wife on his wedding day. Jephte therefore remained guarded in his marriage and even slept in a separate bed from Shawniece during their honeymoon.
Shawniece revealed that many viewers had been so angry at Jephte and how he treated her at the time that he received "death threats."
"They tried to call his job and get him fired. They insulted his character. They did a lot of sh-t based off of his reaction and things that were happening between me and him," Shawniece recalled.
Shawniece also defended Pepper's claim that the experts are not "relationship wizards" and can't expect to have a perfect track record when matching pairs of strangers for Married at First Sight.
"On paper, things sound good and things sound nice and the experts go through their vetting process or whatever," she said.
"But when you mix two individuals, you never know what you're going to get... That is something in this experiment that you can't account for... You might have good and bad with a couple. You never know what you're going to get."
Shawniece also pointed out some participants may have qualities or flaws they didn't show the experts during the matchmaking process.
"Everything you [saw] that happened with us was f-cking real, that was real sh-t. I wore my heart on my sleeve and Jephte was open and honest. However, he still was protective of me and so he did not tell me certain things because he did not want to hurt my feelings," Shawniece said.
"And later on down the line, we had to figure out and weed through that and get through our differences. So when [Pepper] says it was 'hard to watch' in the beginning, if y'all don't remember, that sh-t was hard to watch -- to the point my husband was depressed and we had to deal with that. And that part was not cool."
"So what I'm on the fence about is comparing [Chris] with my husband... Chris, I don't know that man. I can't speak on that man. I'm not going to speak on that man. But my husband, I will tell you he ain't the worst Married at First Sight husband ever," Shawniece said.
"Our relationship will never be one of the worst experiences ever. Our experience was real people doing real sh-t and going through a real struggle and trying to figure it out. We have good moments and we have bad moments, and our good moments sometimes weren't captured because we're living in the moment and not pulling out a phone or a camera every second just to show [fans]."
Shawniece continued by saying Chris and Paige are adults who can handle their own business.
"They can make their own decisions. It's still the beginning. We don't know what Paige is thinking. We don't know what Paige has done. We don't know what Chris is thinking. We don't know what Chris has done... and we don't know what they have done together as a couple to figure out if they'll work [through] their differences," Shawniece explained.
"I remember before being compared to Paige and [being told] I need to leave my husband and my husband was abusive -- and this or that, or whatever. And it made me look like I was so desperate to be married, and I wasn't. I was open to this experiment and I was willing to figure it out and work through it."
Shawniece said when she felt like the experiment was "too much" and she couldn't handle it, she and Jephte discussed getting a divorce.
"We couldn't figure it out in the beginning, but we made that decision together. We talked about it... So I understand where Dr. Pepper was coming from. I'm not upset about what she was saying," Shawniece confirmed.
"However, I heard her statement was taken down because fans were really upset about it. And I will say this: I understand and I feel where y'all are coming from. No, their marriage is not like us. We have a beautiful daughter and we're still together and we're happy. We love each other. We took this experiment and we grew, and we're still growing."
Shawniece said although she and Jephte are two different people, they are moving in the same direction and have been showing fans their true and honest selves.
"There are beautiful moments, and we are doing good, y'all," Shawniece said, adding, "Dr. Pepper is speaking from an expert's point of view. They have their careers and their lives and things that they have to protect."
"Because things are going so bad [with MAFS Season 12], I guess, their professional [lives] and character, all of these things are being insulted."
"And so she's just saying, from her perspective... 'Y'all remember Shawniece and Jephte's marriage and how it was hard to watch in the beginning but then it ended up being a beautiful story.' That's what she's saying to you guys. And it was taken out of context."
Shawniece reminded viewers that she knows what she's talking about because she and Jephte actually went through that experience.
"I'm Shawniece. I'm married to Jephte Pierre. I'm telling you firsthand... that what she said, it was not intended to disrespect us or disrespect our family or be something bad or something negative," Shawniece said.
"She was just trying to use us as an example of something that could grow into something good. Y'all just got to give it a chance. We don't know what's going to happen."
Shawniece concluded her post by thanking fans for their support and continuing to follow her love story and journey with Jephte.
The Married at First Sight season has shown Chris repeatedly boasting about himself and his accomplishments, making distasteful comments about Paige's body, discussing his high expectations of a woman's physical looks, constantly talking about sex, and marrying a stranger only three months after ending his engagement to his ex-fiancee Mercedes, whom he still continued hooking up with after their split.
Chris also appeared to discover during his honeymoon that Mercedes was about six weeks pregnant, and he confessed to Paige that he and Mercedes had briefly discussed the idea of getting back together for the sake of their baby.
Chris admitted to Paige that he still loved his ex-fiancee but wanted to make his marriage work since they were legally and spiritually bound at that point.
Paige agreed to keep working on her relationship although she was clearly suffering internally.