Missouri mom Madelyn Scheaffer took her kids to the water park for some fun in the sun. Or at least, that was her intention. Unfortunately for the Scheaffer family, things rapidly turned sour.
Instead of a day full of thrilling water rides, laughter, and decadent amusement park treats, Madelyn was judged, ridiculous, and humiliated just a few moments after she arrived at the park. To make things worse, she was told to leave the facilities. But Madelyn decided to stand her ground and fight for her right to be there just like everybody else.
She Was a Dedicated Mother
Madelyn Scheaffer is a dedicated mother from Odessa, Missouri, who taught her two children to live life to the fullest. She made room for them to make mistakes and learn from them too. But she also made sure to teach her kids not to judge others, as you never know why a person may act a certain way. Unfortunately, Madelyn found herself being judged and ridiculed for the silliest of reasons.
She Knew Life Wasn’t Always Fair
Life has a way of kicking you when you're down. But this time, it wasn’t an illness in the family, a plane crash, or a house fire that threatened to ruin the young mom's life. Madelyn's belief system was shaken up by a human act that unfortunately happens all too often. Up until that point, she felt like she could take on the world, but this situation caught her off guard and left her in shambles. What happened to her?
She Was a Provider
Madelyn was a hard working woman who made sure her family was well taken care of. She was punctual, dependable, and most importantly, a total team player. The second she came home to her kids, Madelyn went into full mom mode. Many folks in her position would be burned out after a hard day’s work, but she always made sure she had a little extra energy for her kids. So, why had one waterpark judged her so horribly?
She Didn’t Always Put Herself First
Scheaffer wasn’t just a great mom and a great employee. She had also put a lot of priority on herself to look the very best she could, but that wasn’t always the case. Like a lot of busy people, she didn’t always eat healthy or exercise regularly like most doctors recommend. Then again, she had a lot on her plate. Who has time to go to the gym when they have kids to raise and a household to take care of? But something happened to her that forced her to make a huge lifestyle change.
She Was Almost 300 Pounds
At the time, she weighed nearly 300 pounds and didn’t always feel like she was in the best of health. But she kept on going like a real trooper because she had to think of her kids. She couldn’t afford to take too many days off because she would risk losing her job. Her family needed food on the table and new clothes. But her lack of consideration for herself ended up having some unforeseen consequences that made her wish she had taken better care of herself.
She Suffered a Setback
In 2005, Scheaffer suffered a major setback. She was doing something that a lot of people do when they're in the bathroom. She had gotten into the shower one night to wash away the dirt, sweat and stress of the day. This was her quiet moment and she enjoyed the hot water as it splashed on her face and all the way down her body. But then, something happened to her that left her wrecked.
She Made a Bad Move
Everyone has had a slip up in the bath tub every now and then. In some cases, you get into a freaky accident because of a slippery mat. Other times, it’s just plain bad luck. That night, Scheaffer thought she had her feet firmly planted in the tub, but she was wrong. Before she knew it, she saw the world around her become a sudden blur. But why did she lose her grip? Did she have a stroke? Was she attacked? The answer was a more common problem than most people realize.
She Slipped in the Tub
In the middle of her shower, Scheaffer slipped and fell. She was stunned and shocked from the horrible impact but all in all, she was okay... or so she thought. She was in a great deal of pain and didn’t want to get up from the shower. It turns out that the pain had come from a slipped disc that occurred when her back hit the ground. Most people in her situation would have been relieved to be taken to the hospital, but that’s not what happened.
She Didn’t Want to be Moved
As she laid there on the floor waiting for emergency responders to arrive, she thought about her kids and about what she would do if her injuries put her in the hospital. Who would look after her kids while she recovered? That’s when she made a tough decision. When responders arrived, she refused to go to the hospital. She didn’t even want them to move her from where she was.
She Stayed in the Tub
Scheaffer was in so much pain that she decided to stay in the bathtub. In fact, she just stayed there not for twenty minutes or even an hour. She didn’t move there for days to avoid aggravating her injuries. During her downtime, she had an epiphany. She realized that she had spent so much time looking after her kids, her friends, and other family members that she had forgotten to look after the most important in her life... herself.
She Was Ready for a Change
Scheaffer realized she had to shift her focus on herself. She later explained how her bathtub accident was a sign. “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,” she said. But to undergo the dramatic transformation she had planned; she needed a lot of willpower and dedication and even she had some initial doubts about whether she could do it or not.
She Got Smart and Set Some Goals
As a busy mom, she rarely exercised and ate a lot of fast food, but she realized that needed to change or she would risk suffering more serious injuries the next time she fell. So, the first thing she did was grab a pen and paper and start writing down all of the reasonable goals she had planned to set for herself in order to get fit again. And rather than jumping in and getting right to it, she started out slowly.
She Marked Her Workouts on Her Calendar
She aimed for working out about two or three times a week, but she was afraid that her motivation would falter. So, she added her workouts to her schedule and forced herself to make exercise a part of her routine. Sometimes, it was nothing more than a 10-minute walk, but others times it was a 20 to 30-minute workout whenever the kids were playing or asleep. But she knew that exercise alone wasn’t going to cut it.
She Had to Watch What She Ate
Eating right and drinking lots of water was one of the best ways for her to keep her body at peak efficiency. By mixing the right amount of carbs, proteins and healthy fats in her meals, she was able to build her muscle mass while her workouts burned any excess fat in her body. Of course, every once in a while, she allowed herself to have a cheat day. And eventually, her hard work paid off.
She Lost 100 Pounds
It took her two whole years to get fit, and it wasn’t always easy. But in the end, she had managed to lose 100 pounds and looked like a totally different person. She continued to do her lunges, squats and cardio sessions. And by the time she was 43, she weighed 170 pounds and was in the best shape of her life. So naturally, she decided to do what most people do when they look very fit.
She Wanted to Show Off
She decided to show off her new physique while spending some quality time with her kids at a water park. Madelyn realized that for the first time in years, she would finally be comfortable walking around in a bathing suit. So, she went to the store, bought herself a new black bikini and then took her family to the Adventure Oasis Water Park in Independence, Missouri. And that’s when the unimaginable happened.
Missouri Summers are Hot
It gets really hot in Missouri during the summer months and not everyone can afford to have their own pool in their backyard. Luckily, there are public pools, but a large rectangle full of water can only offer so much fun and entertainment. She wanted to take her kids somewhere where it would be a lot more fun than a public pool. So, she did some online research and found the water park that made her feel the way she did before she had lost all the weight.
She Was Proud of Herself
It was the summer of 2013. Like many other water parks, Madelyn ran into all sorts of body types. For the first time ever, she didn't feel ashamed of her body. In fact, she wanted to celebrate feeling healthy and working hard on her fitness by strolling around in a bikini. So, she walked around the water park with her head held high and a big smile on her face. But she didn’t realize that someone in the crowd was not having it.
Confidence Wasn’t Always Easy
People are under the impression that when someone loses weight, they immediately become confident. But that’s not always the case. The trauma that comes from being mistreated continues to haunt someone even after they’ve gotten fit. So, any little criticism can send whatever confidence they’ve slowly built back up to come crashing down in seconds and that’s exactly what one person tried to do to Madelyn.
The Day Started Out Great
Everything was going great at first. The kids were in the pool playing, splashing and doing their thing while she was enjoying the sun on her skin. She knew that this was just what she and her family needed to recharge their batteries. That's when two staff members decided to approach her and they didn’t look very happy. Had she done something wrong? She didn’t think so. But as far as the staff members were concerned, she had.
Water Park Staff Are Supposed to be Kind
Adventure Oasis Water Park staff members are supposed to be the epitome of kindness. It is supposed to be a fun place, after all. There’s no room for employees who aren’t all about family-friendly fun. But that’s not always the case. There are some employees who have the power to turn someone’s smile into a frown and justify their actions by taking the park's policies way too literally. And that’s exactly what happened that day.
Two Water Park Staff Members Confronted Her
The two staff members had arrived about five minutes after Scheaffer had gone into the water. But what could they possibly want? And why did they seem so upset? At first, she thought that perhaps she had forgotten to pay for one of her family member’s tickets or maybe she parked her car in the handicap zone by mistake. But that wasn’t the case, at all. The staff had a problem with her and when they explained why, she had to hold back tears.
She Had Them Repeat Their Request
Scheaffer couldn’t believe what they had just told her. At first, she thought maybe she got some water in her ears or she hadn’t heard right. But as it turned out, she wasn't imagining things. The staff had the nerve to tell her the most offensive words she could think of. Madelyn was gutted. Being treated this way by male staff members would have been disappointing, but it wouldn’t have surprised her. And yet, there were two women standing in front of her. But what did these female staff members say that was so hurtful?
Her Look Was Inappropriate
One of the female staff members proceeded to tell Madelyn that her bikini bottom was “too small” for the park. Then she said that her entire "look" was “inappropriate” and followed it up by reminding Madelyn that “this is a family park.” That last statement felt like a knife being twisted in her chest. Madelyn never considered herself a troublemaker but she was being labeled as one by the park’s employees. But what’s more confusing to her is that there were tons of people showing even more skin than she was. And yet, she was the only one being targeted. What was going on?
There Were Scantier Outfits Out There
Madelyn was still recovering from what the staff had blurted out, but even in the midst of all her confusion, she looked around the park. There were other women in swimsuits that could be deemed as scanty and “inappropriate” as her bikini. Why did the staff choose to shame her and not the other women? Something was clearly wrong, and she was going to get to the bottom of it, but first she had to control the way she felt.
She Was Humiliated
When you're publicly humiliated the way Madelyn was, it's common to feel anxious and embarrassed. It can be really hard to defend yourself when you're put on the spot like that. As you can imagine, the whole experience crippled Madelyn. Anyone in her position would have simply run off crying and abandoned any interest in ever going to a water park ever again. But then she remembered everything she had done to get in shape.
She Refused to be Destroyed
“I was embarrassed for a second, and then it was no, no way,” Scheaffer explained about the way she felt about the situation. But she realized that if that bathtub and a slid disc couldn’t keep her down, there was no way she was going to let two rude park employees do it either. They had singled her out, and she wasn’t going to let them get away with it.
She Was Comfortable in Her Bikini
“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?” she explained. Then she added, “I am comfortable in my bikini. I am happy with who I am.” And that’s not all she had to say when she shared her story about how those female staff members treated her.
She Was Wearing Full-Size Bottoms
“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,” she continued. It became clear to everyone who had heard her story that no one should be shamed for what they’re wearing, regardless of their body shape, age, or gender. To add assault to injury, Madelyn was very disappointed that the people who chose to humiliate her in public were two women. The young mom couldn't wrap her head around this. Shouldn't they advocate for other women and their right to wear whatever they want?
She Stood Up for Herself
The female staff members kept giving her the ultimate stare down in the hopes of intimidating her even further and make her leave, but Madelyn refused to let them hurt her feelings. She had experienced too much of that in her life and she was done, so she kept glaring back at them in judgment for being such horrible people. Perhaps she might not have stood up for herself the way she was now if this had happened to her a few years ago.
Her Confidence Was Not Shaken
Madelyn was well aware that it wasn’t always easy to muster up the confidence to stand up to bullies, but she managed to do it anyway. And she found it immensely gratifying that she was able to stay calm despite being outnumbered two to one. She realized that her taking a stand would be a great example for her kids, and as a mom, she was very proud of herself in spite of what happened next.
She Didn’t Have a Lot of Options
Although she decided to fight the staff members, she was still forced to make a decision about the whole situation. The staff told her that she could either wear a pair of shorts to cover up what they considered risque bottoms, or she could leave the water park. At that point, she had heard enough and demanded that they bring their supervisor over to her so she could give their boss a piece of her mind.
She Refused to Give in to Their Demands
The female staff members didn’t get their supervisor, so Madelyn crossed her arms and said, “Well I am not covering up.” Then she added, “And if you expect me to leave, you had better call the police and have them escort me out.” While it might have been easier to simply walk out and then file a complaint, the mom felt that she had to make a stand in the name of women all over.
The Cops Arrived
The two nasty water park employees didn’t take kindly to the woman’s refusal to comply, so they called the cops to toss her out of the park. “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 explained.
The Police Sympathized With Her
On her Facebook wall, Madelyn explained in more detail how the cops felt about what the park employees were asking her to do. “They were compassionate. They, too, thought it was ridiculous,” she wrote. Unfortunately, the cops weren’t in a position to judge and side with her. Their job was to enforce the law, and they had been told to escort her out of the park and that’s exactly what they did, but with regret.
She Looked Too Good in a Bikini
Madelyn realized that the main reason why she had been forced to leave the water park was that she looked too good in a bikini. This seemed like a ridiculous excuse to treat a park guest the way she was treated. “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.” She explained on her Facebook post, “I will not be discriminated against because I look too good in one.”
She Was Treated Unfairly
“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,” she shared. She further added that other people at the water park were wearing the exact same bikini bottom, but she was the one that was treated unfairly. Regardless, Madelyn thought she was being discriminated against because of her body shape and her age... not over what she was wearing.
It Was Age and Body Discrimination
“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 explained. But she didn’t want this to happen to anyone else, so she came up with a plan.
Her Story Went Viral
Madelyn wrote a lengthy post on her Facebook profile about the way the Adventure Oasis Water Park staff members discriminated against her. And soon, something incredible happened! People all over the world read her story and they were outraged that the water park would treat a mom in such a horrible way. This made Madelyn smile because she knew that the post going viral would make others aware of what happened, but she wasn’t done just yet.
She Continued to Spread the News
The first phase of her plan had worked, but it was only the beginning. Now her story and what the water park had done to her spread like wildfire. So she decided to take it a step further. Admittedly, she could have quit while she was ahead, but she felt it was her job to fight on and she wasn’t just doing this for herself. She was doing this for all the women who didn’t have the courage to call out injustices like the one she had experienced.
A Local News Station Ran the Story
The post gained so much traction that it caught the attention of a local news channel. “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 explained on social media.
She Became a Local Celebrity
Madelyn's story continued to gain traction and eventually, it wasn’t just local news stations contacting her. It was ‘Good Morning America’ that reached out to talk to her about what had happened that horrible day at the water park. At that point, the mom realized that this was going to make Adventure Oasis think twice before they ever kicked someone out for the kind of bikini bottoms they were wearing.
She Was Grateful
Madelyn had gotten many comments praising her for standing up to the water park staff and also lots of comments showing sympathy for how she was cruelly treated. All this love and support lifted her spirits and made her feel understood and heard. But soon, she realized that there was love coming from all over the world, not just her hometown or the United States.
The World Adored Her
“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 shared on a Facebook post. Not only was she grateful but also quite surprised by everyone’s reaction to her story.
Greater Viewpoint of the Human Body
Madelyn went on to explain how she had learned why it was important to appreciate the human body in all of its various forms. “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 Sent Much Love to Everyone
“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,” she continued writing with a heart filled with gratitude. But was there an endgame to her plan or was embarrassing the water park in retaliation for the way they mistreated her the only agenda?
Money Can’t Fix What Happened
“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, 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,” she explained further.
Policy Has to Change
Madelyn's story has proven to be powerful, but will it be enough to promote a much needed change in the water park’s policy? There was no word on whether the park’s management commented on what happened to her or if they even apologized for embarrassing her the way they did. But she’s hopeful that they will implement more body positive policies so that water park employees don’t treat others the way she was treated.
She Relocated to Hawaii
Meanwhile, it turns out that Madelyn had enough of her life in Missouri. So, a couple of weeks after the whole incident at the water park, she did some research, packed up her bags, and relocated her family to the beautiful island of Hawaii. This new oasis allowed her to wear whatever bikini she wanted, and she didn’t have to worry about anyone looking down at her. Plus, it felt like she was on a permanent vacation. But why did she leave the Midwest?
She’ll Always Be a Missouri Girl at Heart
“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,” Madelyn explained.