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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

On being ejected from the premises due to self-chosen body shape

The trashtastic AOL home page instructs me to “Guess why this woman was kicked out of a water park?”

“Because her bottoms were too small,” claimed the staff of the water park, in opposite talk. As commenter rmsaerials put it, “She will never drown.”

The lady concerned, Madelyn Shaeffer, is now suing the water park. She says, “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.” The instant I read the words “suing” and “discrimination” the sympathy I had for Ms Shaeffer evaporated – but I have condensed some of it back by mental effort. Although I support the right of clubs and other private establishments to admit and eject whom they please for good reasons or bad, those reasons ought if possible to be honestly stated in advance and predictably and consistently applied. I can see why Ms Shaeffer is angry that she was ejected on grounds of costume when other women in similar costumes are not ejected. The trouble is, both sides are pretending. Both know but do not say that the actual reason she was ejected was that her artificially enlarged breasts mean that in a bikini, any bikini, she is emitting a loud and continuous sexual signal.

It is a difficult situation for the water park. I stand by my statement that it is desirable that their rules be known and predictable, but nobody can write rules in advance for every situation, which is why it has to come down to the manager’s discretion in the end. I hope Ms Shaeffer loses her suit, but I also hope her entrance fee was refunded. The rule behind the rule against nudity or near nudity is a rule against unignorable sexual signalling. She was doing that, and I think she knows it. When I look at her pose I see someone who is more than ordinarily aware of her appearance. (Truly, the first thing I noticed about her picture was that her stomach was really, really sucked in, to the extent that for a moment I thought it was photoshopped.)

A water park should have the right to position itself in the market as a “family” place where customers are not going to be bombarded with sexual signals. Equally, the water park down the road should have the right to position itself as the place where the hot girls go. The latter ought to have the right not to admit people for not having sexy enough body shapes, whether self-chosen or not. Oddly, this right is often honoured even in our unlibertarian society – the bouncers at many a club will not let ugly or fat people in and nobody sues.

16 comments to On being ejected from the premises due to self-chosen body shape

  • “Discrimination” is not a bad thing in and of itself. My position is the company should be entitled to “discriminate” as it sees fit as long as no contracts (implicit or explicit) are violated, even if they are acting ‘unwisely’ (and I do think their actions were unwise).

    However…

    Once could argue that there was indeed an implicit contract to provide a service for people to swim and hang out around the pool area and she *was* wearing clothing that was not really that outrageous by any ‘reasonable man’ test. Not sure this is a rock solid slam dunk but at least something along those lines is indeed arguable unless there was, in the T&C, a “no prominently displayed bums and boobies” clause.

  • the other rob

    I would not be surprised to find that there’s more to this than meets the eye. Acting, as locum for Perry’s “reasonable man” I see neither unfeasibly* large breasts nor an unreasonably small bikini.

    Given that there’s nothing to see that I haven’t seen at many, family oriented, water parks, it seems to me that there’s a clear breach of contract. I wonder who she pissed off?

    Natalie – to me it appears to be not so much a matter of her stomach being sucked in as her shoulders being held back while her upper torso is pushed forward. I’d bet you a bottle of the Islay malt of your choice that that was done at the direction of a photographer. It’s even possible that she had little idea of the pose being struck – when I used to photograph fat and saggy politicians, I would instruct them to lean forward, saying “It makes you look more alert” when what I really meant was “It will tighten up some of your multiple chins”.

    * For a given value of unfeasibly.

  • Plamus

    Not that it changes much about the arguments, but… I thought I’d plop in here a comment at Fark, which gives some credibility to rob’s comment:

    Looks like a standard Southern Missouri (mizzurah) tat. Probably commemorates Picket’s charge at Gettysburg. You have rows of brave, Confederate troops charging in both directions from the belly button heading around the waist line, as they reach the backside, the Union cannons are firing point blank as the cowardly Northern Aggressors hide behind the flaming guns. But the standard bearers of the south have reached the cannons and the Confederate flag cross obscuring the northern flags. Across this scene is the legend “Our Heritage Forever”

    $200 bucks in any tattoo shop south of I-44 in Missouri.

    I am cool with both the park kicking her out and with her throwing a tantrum about it. Let 12 peers of hers figure it out.

  • Billy Oblivion

    I hope Ms Shaeffer loses her suit,

    I would prefer she keep it on.

    What that article is not mentioning, that others do, is that she had just lost 100 pounds, and was wearing a bikini for the time since the weight gain.

    Which is to say that those breasts might actually be mostly real.

    If I were more favorably disposed towards humanity I would suspect that the suit is more to get publicity and shame the park for being dickheads than any goal of receiving real money. But I’m not.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Plamus, I’m not sure whether the comment you quote from Fark is saying that Ms Shaeffer herself has a tattoo in a place not visible on the AOL picture or was an analogy. It’s a good analogy. Getting a tattoo is a choice you make to change your body, sometimes regretted, and it will sometimes cause other people not to wish to associate with you. I am told that in Japanese onsen, where nudity is expected, people with tattoos are often banned because the Japanese associate tattoos with yakuza. This sometimes catches out young westerners who find it quite normal to have a tattoo.

    I should stress that I am not saying there is anything wrong with having a tattoo or getting a boob job; just that it is a choice which has consequences as to how people will regard you.

    Billy Oblivion,
    I’d have thought that extreme weight loss leaves a woman with breasts that are less round than that.

  • Richard Thomas

    I think Billy is actually right with his attention/publicity thing. Particularly if the boobs are false.

  • mike

    Why do people insist on calling them “boobs” when there are plenty of other, better-sounding words available? A “boob”, or “boobie” is a stupid-sounding word, like a sound-effect on a Benny Hill episode. A “boob” is a Boris Johnson, or a Tim Yeo. It’s like referring to the vagina with the C-word; you just don’t do it – the C-word is reserved for denoting truly despicable people.

  • Mike Giles

    When you lose that much weight, there’s an excellent chance that surgery, to tighten up the sagging skin, is needed. I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t take advantage of the opportunity, and have everything tightened up. Hence that figure.

  • Point being missed is that the pool is not private property, it is owned by the city government and managed by a private company.

    If it were private the owners would have my full support, but as it isn’t, what we have here is the state – or its agent – dictating to a private individual.

    The arguments change.

  • Laird

    CountingCats beat me to it. This is a municipal pool, not a private one; the government has an obligation to treat all equally. I suspect that a jury would find that she was treated unequally in comparison to the 18-year-olds wearing similar (or even more revealing) attire. If I were representing the city I would counsel them to settle quickly, and then develop a more defensible bathing suit policy (one not completely dependent upon the whims of teenagers).

  • Julie near Chicago

    Laird, for heaven’s sake, get real! EVERYTHING is completely dependent on the whims of teenagers!

    (Hrrumph. Except in the political sphere. There, everything is completely dependent on the whims of children under two.)

  • cornelius

    We see enough FAT youngsters with no one crying about it and a great looking lady has to be evicted! Can anyone say “Old USSR methods”?

  • Elvira

    That lady at most has a modest E cup, and from what I can see, she didn’t have an op either.

    Fact is, if you run an establishment where people pay get semi-naked, then it’s no surprise if you see naked bodies… consider that the orignial bikini was modelled by a stripper because no fashion model could be hired to wear the rude contraption.

    How do you feel about banning bikinis? Is that a better option than banning old women with large mammary glands? And should we also consider banning other distressing sights, such as amputees, people with skin diseases or other ‘freaky’ disabilities?

    Maybe the swimming pool companies could make some extra money with ‘burka hire’?

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    “Point being missed is that the pool is not private property, it is owned by the city government”

    So some guys steal a bunch of money by threatening people with violence, and what offends us is that they kicked someone out of their pool? ;)

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Elvira asks,

    How do you feel about banning bikinis?

    If you mean, how do I feel about a law banning bikinis, then I would oppose it furiously. If you mean, how do I feel about a particular water park banning bikinis, then I support their right to do so on grounds of freedom of association.

    Is that a better option than banning old women with large mammary glands?

    It is difficult for me to decide upon my preference between these two imaginary options, as I do not own or manage a water park. However while I’d support the owners’ right to enforce any policy, as a potential paying visitor, I’d be very little bothered by the bikini ban one but would refuse to go to the park that banned big breasted women. Of course a general ban on big breasted women is not the same as the real life case described here.

    And should we also consider banning other distressing sights, such as amputees, people with skin diseases or other ‘freaky’ disabilities?

    Samizdata is quite a good place to carry out the thought experiment and discuss such a ban, as most of the commenters here are less prone to immediately seek refuge in enjoyable outrage when presented with discussion of what happens when different ideals collide. My own view is that, as with the scenario of banning bikinis above, I would support the right of a water park’s owners to have such a ban on freedom of association grounds. However, in contrast to the case of banning bikinis – which one can choose to wear or not wear – I would actively boycott and denounce the establishment that banned disabled / mutilated people and would encourage others to do likewise.

    Maybe the swimming pool companies could make some extra money with ‘burka hire’?

    That would be fine by me, if there were a market for it. Do you have some objection?

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Rob Fisher, I do take your point, but given that we live in a world where (alas) many of the water parks are involuntarily paid for by taxpayers, and not just income tax, I also see some merit to the idea that there should be a wider entry for a “public” than a private facility.

    Not infinitely wide, though. There have been problems in both the UK and the US when tramps have understandably decided to take advantage of free warmth and shelter in public libraries. Expelling them seems cruel and arbitrary (assuming they are not breaking any rules). Let them stay, and soon you won’t have a public library just a homelessness shelter with inappropriately trained staff and more books than usual. As in the original post it’s almost impossible to write adequate rules for this sort of clash in advance.