News & Politics

Woman Kicked off Harry Potter Ride for Being Too Fat Claims Discrimination

(By Orlando Informer, via Wikimedia Commons)

Recently I praised Childish Gambino, AKA Donald Glover, for standing up to our society’s stigma about “dad bods.” But Glover’s fearless display of his slight weight gain is only the beginning. There are a lot of Americans who are even more calorically gifted and have even fewer f***s to give about it.

Did you feel that? No, it’s not an earthquake. It’s not a stampeding herd of wildebeest. It’s Jana Schmieding, a “comedic writer, performer and educator in Los Angeles,” squeezing through the door and waddling right up to confront America on our sizeist fatphobia. Schmieding, a Harry Potter superfan, recently wrote in the august pages of the Huffington Post about her visit to Universal Studios to experience “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.” And if you think it went well: fat chance.

Schmieding’s tale is titled “I Was Kicked Off The Harry Potter Ride For Being Too Fat For The Seats.” When trying to board the Hogwarts ride, her nightmare began:

One of the 20-something ride managers walked over and asked us all to step off because of a “safety” issue. We were ushered through a door to what looked like a backstage area where another 20-something employee rattled off a spiel about “safety” and “three clicks” and having to “try out a safety seat…”

I took the bullet and pulled the restraint over my shoulders, pressing down as tightly as I could, my precious E-cups getting smashed into my chest and up around my neck. One click. That’s all I could manage.

And so she was not allowed on the ride. Because of concerns about “safety” and “physics” and “the tensile strength of steel.”

Now, if you’re the sort of person who can still fit into most retail clothing, you might think this is amusing. You might scold Schmieding: “This is a wake-up call, fatso. Cut some carbs. Install a treadmill in your sty. Do something, anything to improve yourself, you pasta-packed planetoid. This is on you!

But Schieding knows better than that. As she lumbered away from the offending ride and those fat-shaming fascists, her chins quivering with rage, she quickly formed a suitable explanation for this injustice:

Exclusion is a powerful weapon… It makes a person internalize an entire system of institutional hatred…

At Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, the locking mechanisms on the Hogwarts ride were adjusted in 2010 to safely accommodate bigger bodies, but not before this man was “inspired” to lose weight so he could be allowed on board. That’s wrong… Exclusion makes me, a logical and educated person, believe that I’m at fault for not fitting into this ride instead of recognizing that rides should accommodate all people’s bodies…

Because Harry Potter is fantastical ― beyond reality ― the park experience should also transcend the fat-shaming that we encounter every time we leave our homes.

That’s right: Reality itself is bigoted. The physical universe is sizeist. Not wanting to die on an amusement ride because some lardbody sent it off the rails is a hate crime. It’s size-based discrimination.

When you get on a talking scale and it says, “One at a time, please,” that’s size-based discrimination.

When you jump in the air and get stuck, that’s size-based discrimination.

When you go to the zoo and the elephants throw you peanuts, that’s size-based discrimination.

Kudos to Jana Schmieding for refusing to bend to the laws of man or nature. She refuses to conform to your stereotypes, or the physical limits of the kitchen door. The only thing she refuses to eat is her feelings.

Do the right thing, Universal Studios. Wave a magic wand and make obesity acceptable.

(But seriously, folks. If it seems like I’m being mean to this poor lady, that’s only because she’s either completely delusional or trolling us all. I’m not exactly svelte myself, but if I got kicked off an amusement ride for endangering the safety of myself and the other passengers, I might try to better myself. I might take the stairs instead of the elevator, or limit myself to one family-size bag of Ruffles per meal, or some other little adjustment like that. I wouldn’t blame Reality Itself for conspiring against me because nanotechnology hasn’t advanced enough to build a roller coaster that can hurtle my blubber through the air without bending like spaghetti and killing everybody.)