Madelyn Scheaffer was eager to enjoy feeling comfortable in her own skin on a hot summer’s day in Missouri — so she went to her local water park. But not long thereafter, red and blue lights were flashing outside. Never in a million years could she have guessed that her day would end up with her being thrown out of the park by police.
Living The American Dream
If anyone would have caught a glimpse of Odessa, Missouri native Madelyn Scheaffer’s life in the early 2000s, they would have said that she was living the ideal. She had a good job, two kids, and the personal drive to give them the kind of life every child deserves.
However, one day in 2005, life side-swiped this young mom. It didn’t come in the form of a disease or a car accident. Rather, her life changed as the result of something very basic that anyone might do. As Madelyn was going through her nightly routine, something suddenly occurred that would shatter her reality and leave her in a position she had never dreamed could happen.
A Severe Slip-Up
Before the water park incident, Madelyn experienced several blows, which in turn made the incident even worse. One night, Madelyn prepared her evening shower, and getting in proved to be quite the challenge for the mother. She made one false move and ended up keeling over, slipping into the hard surface of the tub. While slipping in the shower has happened to everyone here and there, the way Madelyn fell was particularly bad.
As Madelyn attempted to lift herself from the tub, she discovered to her horror that she was unable to get up. She called for help, an ambulance arrived, and the paramedics began to assess the situation. As it turned out, as a result of her fall, Madelyn had a slipped disc in her back and needed medical attention. At that moment, the pain was too intense to bear — and she made a split decision that many would find bizarre.
Unable To Get Up
Suffering from too much pain and fearing what moving from the tub to the stretcher would feel like, Madelyn decided to remain there. 24 hours soon turned into 48 hours, which eventually that turned into 72 hours. Madelyn Scheaffer ended up lying in that tub for three days. During the time that she was stuck there, she did a lot of thinking.
She replayed the moment of her fall in her mind over and over, and she thought about the challenge she had felt just walking into that tub. It wasn’t normal, let alone ideal, to have struggled over such a simple and basic function. Amid the serenity of her bathroom, she made a tough decision regarding her future.
Taking Back Her Life
While on the quest to provide and care for her children, Madelyn had neglected to care for herself. She weighed in at almost three hundred pounds and felt awful. She knew she had to make some changes, but it was far from something that would happen overnight.
During an interview about the consequences of her fall, she stated: “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.” That said, when she did do something, she’d discover something in herself that made the biggest difference.
Discipline and Motivation
For some, losing weight can be like climbing Mount Everest. They try and try, but never reach that peak that they’re dreaming of. Unfortunately, chowing down on a fast food value meal is infinitely easier — and cheaper — than working out and eating a salad.
Yet what separated Madelyn from most people with a gym membership and food addiction is that she had discipline and determination. She changed her eating habits and made sure to incorporate exercise into her life on a daily basis. Only two years after taking that life changing fall, Madelyn Scheaffer found that she looked nothing like the woman she once was. Yet even after her accomplishment, her transition into her new body was far from smooth.
Issues Growing Into Her New Self
While Madelyn at last had the physique of a fitness model, her confidence was still that of someone that weighed 300 pounds. Even after years of continuing to maintain the best shape she had ever been in, she was still extremely shy when it came to wearing a bathing suit in public.
In the summer of 2013, a 43-year-old Madelyn was finally ready to show off the figure she had worked so hard for. Considering Missouri isn’t exactly on the coast, she didn’t have the freedoms that came with having a beach at hand. However, she knew the perfect place to sport her new bikini body.
The Best Place For a Bathing Suit
On a hot summer day, Missouri’s temperatures can be notoriously and ruthlessly blazing. And on one of the hotter days that year, Madelyn gathered up her family and decided to do something about it. Sporting a newly bought black bikini, she headed to Adventure Oasis, one of Missouri’s most beloved water parks.
It was there that she could rock her new body and not feel like she was bringing attention to herself. In fact, there were many young ladies there wearing bikinis no different from hers, so she felt she had little to worry about. However, while she was splashing in the pools, there was someone watching her with a disapproving set of eyes.
Hard Work Wasted
Madelyn had worked so hard to get the body that she wanted, and she no doubt felt liberated showing it off and not being judged by a bunch of strangers. Within minutes of her arrival to the park, Madelyn found herself being called over by two of the park’s female staff members.
While she thought that they were perhaps approaching her with some important news, they instead said something to her that left her in a state of shock. Just when she thought her days of being embarrassed were over, these two staff members shamed her in a way that made all her hard work seem like a waste.
The young staff workers were not kind when they approached Madelyn. They told her that Adventure Oasis was a family park and that her bikini was too small and completely inappropriate. Suddenly, her pride vanished and was replaced with a more familiar feeling.
Throughout most of her life, Madelyn had been deeply conscious and ashamed of her plus-sized body. While self acceptance and empowerment for different body types is more prevalent today, in Madelyn’s youth people were much more harsh. Those two staff members brought those old feelings of shame and embarrassment surging back to Madelyn. However, as she looked around the park, she realized that something was wrong with the situation.
One Of Hundreds
Ashamed, Madelyn peeped out her surroundings in an effort to make sure the confrontation wasn’t drawing a lot of attention from the people around her. While doing so, she noticed that she was one of many visitors that day who were wearing bikinis.
Madelyn later remarked in an interview, “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.” With that observation, she began to realize that the staff wasn’t exactly concerned with her bikini, but with something specifically connected to her.
It wasn’t about her bikini; these two staff members were body shaming Madelyn. Once she realized what was happening, her sense of pride returned to her. She stated during an interview, “My body is different from the young girls that were walking around in their bikinis, but why should I be made ashamed of my body?”
Further explaining the situation, she said: “I am a 43-year-old woman who did not have the confidence or the body, to put on a bikini until 40 years old. I will not be discriminated against because I look too good in one.” As she began fighting with the two staff members, they gave her two options, and both were equally appalling.
An Appalling Ultimatum
Believing her bikini bottoms to be too small, the water park staff members gave the 43-year-old two options, both of which were utterly unacceptable. They stated that she could either put on some shorts or leave the park. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She’d later say, “They said that my bottoms were inappropriate. That was funny to me, because they are full-size bottoms.”
She couldn’t believe that these two female staffers were singling her out. Was their job so boring that they had to find someone to cause trouble with? She demanded that she speak to their supervisor. However, this didn’t help out her situation at all. So, she gave them an ultimatum.
The Ultimate Escalation
When again asked to cover up, Madelyn shot back with the following, “Well, I am not covering up, and if you expect me to leave, you had better call the police and have them escort me out.” It was but a few minutes later that red and blue lights were flashing outside of Adventure Oasis.
The cops calmly escorted her out of the park, and while it was likely mildly humiliating, she felt like she was doing this for a greater cause. She was getting thrown out for every woman who had ever been discriminated against. While one would expect the police to use the full extent of their force, they actually reacted in a way that caught her off guard.
An Unexpected Police Response
As the police were walking her out of the park, they said something that validated Madelyn’s feelings. They said that they disagreed with the park staff members, but that they had to do their job. According to Madelyn, they told her the following: “We can’t actually say anything,’ they said as we walked outside…’but I hope from the expression on our face you can tell how we feel.’”
While the Adventure Oasis staff members probably thought that their problem was over, they’d have another thing coming. As she was overcome with anger by what had happened, Madelyn wasn’t about to just brush the experience off her shoulders and move on with life. She had a plan that would put their vile behavior in the limelight for all to see.
Exposing Adventure Oasis
As soon as she got home, Madelyn logged onto her Facebook and left a post about her humiliating experience. She explained to her audience: “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 the clothes or leave.”
People couldn’t believe that the staff workers at Adventure Oasis would behave in such a manner. Madelyn’s post gained more and more traction and support, and soon became a viral sensation on the Internet. Yet that was just the beginning, as her story was about to reach people in a much higher position.
Picked Up By Prime Time Television
The story made Madelyn something of a local celebrity and she began getting recognized by strangers. She was even soon contacted by Good Morning America, as they wanted to cover her story. This would definitely be a big blow to Adventure Oasis, and she was more than happy about it.
With her story hitting several news outlets, she soon had the support of the world standing behind her. She proudly wrote on her Facebook: “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.” What would she do with this new platform?
Hoping For a Change In Policy
When it comes to what Madelyn actually wants out of the situation, it has little to do with money or even access to the park. She wants change. She posted, “I stand by my grievance that I was discriminated against at Adventure Oasis Water Park, and I do not believe it should happen again.”
She further stated, “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.” With that said, where is Madelyn all these years later?
Madelyn’s New Life
It looks like the incident at Adventure Oasis was the final straw for Madelyn. It was only weeks after the occurrence that she packed up her bags and moved to Hawaii. There, she could enjoy the beach at her leisure, and have plenty of opportunities to feel comfortable in her own skin
She has gone on to state, “I do love the Midwest. I’ve been a Missouri girl all my life, but there is a sort of oppression there that you don’t find in a lot of parts of the world. To be kicked out of a water park for wearing a swimming suit, that is sort of a Midwestern thing. That’s not going to happen in Hawaii.” While most might think that Madelyn’s situation was unique, sadly, a young lady named Yvette Harvie-Salter found herself in a similar situation.
Across The World
On the other side of the globe in Auckland, New Zealand, aspiring singer Yvette Harvie-Salter had no idea she’d be making breaking news when she went on one of her routine visits to the Albany Stadium Pool. She and her boyfriend had been going three times a week for the past two years.
The staff had always been quite accommodating and polite, and Yvette never once got the notion that she was on anyone’s bad side. Yet her sense of comfort at the pool would soon be tarnished. Someone didn’t like what they were seeing, and they were about to make things inexplicably and unjustifiably difficult for her.
An Unexpected Meeting
While Yvette was using the sauna and spa, one of the lifeguards on duty approached her. Usually, Yvette expected nothing but pleasantries from the staff, but this lifeguard was wearing an expression of startling severity. She asked her if the two of them could speak in private.
A lighthearted day at the pool suddenly took a very dark turn. Seeing as this lifeguard had asked her to accompany her in a solemn tone, it was very clear that something bad had happened — or was about to happen. As they walked into the guard’s back office, a bomb was dropped on Yvette that absolutely crushed her spirit. She couldn’t believe what she was being told.
The lifeguard informed Yvette that there had been many complaints about her. It was shocking to hear, as she couldn’t imagine what she had done to deserve any legitimate complaints. She had merely been using the spa and sauna, and minding her own business. It was soon revealed that it all came down to the 26-year-old’s bikini.
The bikini she had been wearing that day wasn’t anything too revealing. It was a black Glassons bikini, and in fact, it was rather tame for a two-piece bathing suit. The lifeguard asked Yvette if she had any other swimwear at home. Yvette couldn’t believe her ears. The question was, who had tried to call the lifeguard’s attention to this swimsuit in the first place — and why?
The Faces Behind Those Complaints
During an interview about the incident, Yvette explained why she had been singled out. “It’s not a rule at Albany Stadium Pool but all these mums have complained.” When Yvette tried telling the lifeguard that there wasn’t a rule regulating her swimsuit, it was clear that this lifeguard simply wasn’t going to listen to reason.
Yvette recalled, “She pretty much didn’t take a bar up of it and she said ‘well you’ve got to wrap up. You’ve got to put a towel around you if you are wanting to walk around wearing that bikini.'” Naturally, Yvette felt disgusted and outraged that the lifeguard would make such a horrible request. Yvette later explained that they weren’t just asking her to change her swimwear, but doing something much worse.
In her own words, Yvette said, “It just feels like body shaming, really. I am really hurt by it.” Small swimwear was nothing new in the Albany Stadium Pool. On more than a dozen occasions, Yvette had seen men wearing speedos, and never once did anyone complain about them. It quickly became quite clear to her that she was being singled out.
She wouldn’t be discriminated against and leave quietly. Yvette went directly to the front desk, where she not only gave them a piece of her mind, but asked to be refunded. The ladies at the front desk, however, wouldn’t approach the manner with class or respect. What they did took the offense to a whole new level.
Insult To Injury
Getting the refund quickly and easily would have been too much to ask for. Opting for the immature way to handle things, the staff workers at the front desk decided to giggle and tease Yvette about the situation. They also took their sweet time processing the refund. When she left, she didn’t hesitate to let them know that they had just lost a very loyal customer.
Yvette went on to share her story on social media, and it didn’t take long for it to explode and go viral. It quickly went from being a popular Internet story to capturing international news headlines. While some actually agreed with what had happened to Yvette, most were just as upset about it as her. The heightened attention led to the pool making a public apology.
A Public Apology
Auckland Council’s head of recreation Rob McGee expressed that he was very disappointed with how Yvette was treated by the staff at the Albany Stadium Pool. He said, “On behalf of the lifeguard who spoke to the customer and the team at Albany, I would like to offer a sincere apology to the customer.”
He went on to say: “We are sorry she was made to feel uncomfortable, and the lifeguard who passed on the feedback from other pool users now realises this wasn’t the right thing to do.” While we doubt she’ll be going back to that pool for a swim, at least they apologized and acknowledged they did wrong.
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