In a story that’s making the rounds on TV and the internet, a 42-year-old woman is fighting back after being kicked out of a water park in Missouri for showing too much skin. Madelyn Sheaffer was enjoying a day at Adventure Oasis with her daughter when staff confronted her about what they thought was a too-revealing bikini. When the buxom lady refused to cover up or leave, the park had her escorted out by police.
Dress code violations at water parks surely aren’t that rare, so why has this become big news? A few reasons. First, Sheaffer decided to make an issue of it by going to the press. Second, the woman’s weight loss story is inspirational to many. And three, this situation raises uncomfortable questions about discrimination and double standards.
Water parks pride themselves on being family friendly, so it’s understandable that they maintain certain standards for their guests. The problem is when they don’t display the rules clearly or enforce them consistently. In this case, Adventure Oasis apparently overlooked violations by younger, more petite guests and singled out an older, more full-figured woman – and many people simply find that unfair.
Sheaffer had a pretty good reason to show off her bod. The divorcee had recently lost an amazing 100 pounds and was feeling good about herself. In that context, it’s easy to see why she decided to take a stand when she did.
Many water parks ban thong bikinis (along with other inappropriate attire). However, the bikini Sheaffer was wearing appears to be pretty normal. Just about everyone who’s visited a water park has seen similar swimsuits on display – the difference is that they’re most commonly sported by teenage girls.
Should it matter if the water park guest is more developed? What if the person is overweight – should they have a different set of requirements? If it’s a guy, does the size of his package play any role? In most people’s minds, the answer to these questions is obviously no. Whatever the rules may be, they should be one-size-fits-all.
Pardon the bikini pun, but this story has legs. Sheaffer, who says she was a shy person before her weight loss, hasn’t shied away from the attention all this hubbub has brought her. She’s picked up thousands of Facebook followers and granted numerous interviews (which in turn brings reactions ranging from “she’s milking it” to “you go girl”).
But one of the best things about this story is that it has a happy and rather tidy ending. Though it’s not directly because of the incident, Sheaffer has recently moved to Hawaii. Pretty sure nobody will be bugging her about the size of her bikini there. Aloha.