A family outing to a water park had turned into a nightmarish combination of shame, unfairness, and humiliation. However, it hadn’t been caused by rude children causing a ruckus or even by the overpriced food and tickets at the park.
In fact, it was caused by something much more petty and personal. It wasn’t her fault that men were staring at her but it seemed that people couldn’t stand that. It hadn’t been more than a few minutes before the girls had singled her out. She refused to accept it though
Madelyn Scheaffer was a dedicated mother from Odessa, Missouri. Nothing was more important to her than taking care of her family. However, when she was in her mid-30s something happened that changed her life.
It was during that time that she discovered something which would shatter her entire world. Even so, she overcame it but now, seven years later, a group of teenagers at a waterpark threatened to destroy everything she’d worked so hard to achieve.
It was hot that day and Madelyn decided she would do something that up until that point she would never have dreamed of. She opened her closet and pulled out a swimsuit that had been in there for years, unused and forgotten.
She carefully took it out of the box it had been stored in and tried it on. She examined herself in the mirror and couldn’t help but smile as she saw it fit perfectly. She was proud and happy. Little did she know that before the day was out she would be humiliated and be fighting for her rights.
Madelyn may have been a tall, curvy woman, however, when she looked at herself in the mirror as she fastened the bikini she felt proud and happy. It wasn’t too revealing or skimpy and it felt good to wear it again after so many years.
She finished tying the bikini before pulling on a dress and going downstairs. She called her family together and told them that they had to get ready because she was taking everyone to Adventure Oasis Water Park to cool off on such a hot day. However, once she took off her dress at the side of the pool she felt all eyes on her.
The stares from the other people made her feel a bit self-conscious again so Madely decided to cover up with a towel instead. As she looked around she saw the stares the scantily clad girls were getting but then she saw people staring at her too.
Despite being out of her comfort zone, Madelyn was determined that she would have fun. She smiled warmly at some of the employees who were observing her. She saw them smirk at her, and while it seemed estranged she never imagined it would mean the police would be called in.
Madelyn gathered her resolve and dropped the towel again. After a quick glance around her she slipped into the water, enjoying the feeling of the water swirling around her. Contentedly she closed her eyes.
Madelyn sat back in the water, eyes closed, feeling relaxed and happy. Mere minutes later, however, two of the female employees approached her and asked to speak to her. Madelyn looked up, unaware of the trouble about to follow.
Madelyn listened to the girls, her mind reeling. Had she really just heard them say that? She couldn’t believe her ears. It must have been a mistake right? She had done nothing wrong so why were they asking her to leave?
Squinting up at them in the bright sunlight, Madelyn stopped them and ask them to say that again. She wanted to be sure she’d heard them correctly because surely she misheard the first time.
She listened to the girls again but felt that their answers were not satisfactory. So Madelyn demanded that they tell her what was really going on. She had an idea why she was being singled out but demanded that they tell her because she couldn’t believe it could be true.
Surely in this day and age, this wouldn’t happen. She insisted that they tell her the truth. She prepared herself to hear the worst but their response still shocked her. When they finally admitted the truth Madelyn was furious.
One of the girls looked at Madelyn, sighed dramatically, and repeated the words. She was looming over Madelyn who was still in the pool, clearly trying to assert her authority by doing so. Her tone was facetious as she spoke.
According to her, the bathing suit that she was wearing was unsuitable for the waterpark. Specifically, her bikini bottoms were “too small” and they were deemed “inappropriate” for wearing in a public space like the waterpark. Madelyn was agog as she listened to what the girl was saying. Then, in another show of pettiness, the girl looked down at Madelyn with a nasty smirk as she sneered: “This is a family park.”
Needless to say, Madelyn was mortified and angry. She was about to say something back to the girl when she stopped herself. She knew that hers was a “full” bikini. The fact that they were claiming otherwise was ridiculous.
Her blood was boiling as she looked around at the other girls in the park, all of whom were clearly showing way more skin than she was. Something was definitely not right. She was sure that these girls were just being spiteful.
A range of conflicting emotions flitted across her face as she tried to make sense of what was happening. She felt humiliated and ashamed by the comments these young girls were making about her body.
It felt like an utter violation to her and she was about to crumble and give in, but then she started to feel something else. This new feeling surged through her and she found the strength to not crumble. “I was embarrassed for a second, and then it was no, no way,” Madelyn recalls.
Madelyn rounded on the staff member, all of whom were still staring at her, looking her up and down in an accusing fashion. She breached herself and stood her ground. She had to take a stand, even though she didn’t know why these girls had a problem with her.
This was the new Madelyn, and she wasn’t about to back down. In the past, Madelyn admitted, that her shy self would have backed down and certainly wouldn’t stand up for herself, but not anymore. She was going to fight this.
Madelyn was 43 years old and weighed in at 170 pounds. After years she finally looked and felt fitter and more confident than ever before. It had been a long journey and hard work but she had managed to lose and keep off 100 pounds.
She knew that her body was far from ‘perfect’, but even though it had been unintentional, she had managed to draw the attention of the men in the park. And it was clear that these young girls were jealous of the attention. It was the only thing that made sense.
“My body is different than the young girls that were walking around in their bikinis, but why should I be made ashamed of my body?” Madelyn said. “I am comfortable in my bikini. I am happy with who I am.”
“My first reaction was why are you singling me out? They said that my bottoms were inappropriate. That was funny to me because they are full-size bottoms,” Madelyn continued. However, she still needed to decide what she was going to do about the situation.
Even so, the girls wouldn’t budge from their stance and insisted that she eieth leave the park or cover up by wearing shorts. Madelyn was understandably livid, this was ridiculous. She instead to speak to whoever was in charge.
“Well I am not covering up,” Madelyn said furiously. “And if you expect me to leave, you had better call the police and have them escort me out.” Madelyn had been through a lot in her life, and she hadn’t overcome all that to go through this.
In 2005, Madelyn was forced to re-evaluate her entire life when she made a discovery that would change everything. She had been bending over the tub when running a bath when she suddenly slipped a disc and fell into the bath.
Her lifestyle hadn’t been the best and it had slowly been taking its toll on her body. However, it had finally reached its limits and couldn’t take it anymore. This one event would change her life forever.
She called the emergency services who rushed over to help her. However, she was in so much pain that they couldn’t move her. In the end, she sent them away still unable to get out of the tub and in great pain.
She ended up lying in the tub for three whole days. During that time she reached a moment of clarity and calm. She had been so focused on caring for her family and others that she had neglected herself.
“That should have been the first sign for me that I needed to lose weight, but it took me another year before I made the decision to do something,” Madelyn said.
But now, at 43 years old, Madelyn was back in that awful place. Shattered and mortified, she wondered if she should just give up and leave the park. But then she clenched her fists. How dare they?!
The officers arrived, and to Madelyn’s dismay, booted her from the waterpark! “Fifteen minutes later the police did arrive and said that while they did not agree, they had to do their job. “We can’t actually say anything,” they said as we walked outside… but I hope from the expressions on our face you can tell how we feel,” Madelyn wrote on her now-viral Facebook post.
“They were compassionate. They, too, though it was ridiculous.”
“I am a 43-year-old woman who did not have the confidence or the body, to put on a bikini until [I was] 40 years old,” Madelyn continued on her post. “I will not be discriminated against because I look too good in one.”
She continued: “This was not a thong. It was a standard, summertime, two-piece, string bikini… the same as everyone else, who felt confident enough in their body to wear one.”
“I felt like it was both age and body discrimination and I felt like I could look around me and I could see a handful of other girls half my age, wearing the same size swimming suit and not being singled out and told to put on clothes or leave,” Madelyn said angrily.
But what could she do about it?
Since Madelyn wrote the Facebook post documenting how she was discriminated against at the waterpark, it has been seen by people all over the globe. And people were appalled by the staff’s behavior at the Adventure Oasis Water Park.
But, Madelyn knew that online naming and shaming wasn’t going to be enough to make them see the error of their ways.
“Long story short, I called the media, and will be on tonight’s local 41 news. Several people walked out while I waited outside for the newsman, and told me how ridiculous this all was, and complimented me on my swimsuit,” Madelyn wrote.
Meanwhile, her post gained more support than she could ever have imagined!
Madelyn took to Facebook to show her surprise and gratitude.
“In addition to other countries already mentioned, I have now heard from Greece, China, Hong Kong…and received over 500 beautiful letters from Brazil. I have been wanting to see the world, and now the world is coming to me, and sending much Love,” she wrote.
“One thing I have learned so far is that there is a much greater viewpoint and perspective of the human body than what is to be found in Independence, Missouri worldwide… and I thank and appreciate you for that!” She continued: “Much Love to those who express pride over shame for all shapes, sizes, in addition to various ages and stages, of this beautiful human body we inhabit our time on earth.”
But what does Madelyn hope to achieve by highlighting the waterpark’s unfair policies?
“While I stand by my grievance that I was discriminated against at Adventure Oasis Water Park,” and I do not believe it should happen again,” Madelyn wrote.
“It is not money that is going to correct the issue, but a change in the swimming park’s “appropriate swimming attire” policy, and also an improvement involving better education and orientation of their park management.”