After more than a decade of driving other people’s race cars, I’ve learned that it’s important to have The Talk as early as possible in the negotiation process. I’m not referring to “the talk” that black parents are supposed to have with their children about the police, or Derbyshire’s “the talk” that white parents are supposed to have with their children; I think both of those “talks” verge on the ridiculous. Rather, I’m referring to “the talk” about whether or not I’m going to fit in their race car.
Sometimes, as with the vast majority of GT4 racers and other customer cars, it’s not an issue. Other times, as with the majority of vintage open-wheel racers, it’s a complete impossibility. For the ones in the middle, such as the McLaren MP4-GT3 or a Caterham 300.R, it’s a matter of making it work. My fitment issues usually center around my exceptionally long torso and wider-than-normal shoulders — but there are also times that I’m just too fucking fat to fit into the seat.
Being too fat to fit into a race car does not make me a victim. It’s a reflection of my choices. Being too tall to fit into a race car does not make me a victim. It’s a natural consequence of being six-foot-two with short legs. There are writers out there, such as Chris Harris or Sam Smith or my own brother, who are literally a better fit for those opportunities. I don’t feel victimized by that. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I felt victimized by anything.
Apparently, I’m really missing out.
It was the depression and disgust surrounding Donald Trump’s election that sent me into a YA fantasy endurance run where I went so far as to purchase an armchair for my round-the-clock bedroom reading… My dear friend Ruha ― who has been a guest on my “Woman of Size” podcast about the discrimination against fat women’s bodies ― wrote: “Heads up. I was kicked off the Hogwarts ride because I didn’t fit. It was humiliating but they gave me front of the line passes to rest of the rides at Universal. Just be aware.” …The four of us were taken to the beginning of the line where another 20-something informed us that for safety reasons, the restraint covering a rider’s chest must click down three times. She asked us to try out the test seat and my friends all looked over at me because I was obviously the fat one who caused our current predicament… Exclusion is a powerful weapon. I have support on all sides telling me that my investigations into size-based discrimination are helpful and important, and my community of people combating this issue is steadfast and intelligent. Despite all that, I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that I wished I were small enough to take the Hogwarts ride. That’s the impact of exclusion: 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 and shame are not motivational techniques; they’re forms of bullying. 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. Apply this thinking to race or gender discrimination or disabled accessibility, and you have yourself the hot stew we’re in today.
You can read the whole pathetic story here, if you like, but it was the bolded sentence above that represented the proverbial last straw for me, because I’ve seen the other side of this “fat acceptance” policy. Last year I took my 52-inch-tall, 50-pound son to a couple of amusement parks and I watched him bounce around in the “fat-friendly” seating that is part of most modern roller coasters. He was a pinball in a cage on pretty much every ride, and it was painful enough for him to eventually give up on the idea of riding more coasters. There were just a few exceptions. The “Racer” at Kings Island was fine for him and he didn’t feel uncomfortable. At Cedar Point, the “Blue Streak” and “Corkscrew” were fun and non-painful for him. If you’re not a member of American Coaster Enthusasts (ACE), I’ll spare you the lookup time: the newest of those coasters was built forty years ago.
Back when amusement-park rides were designed for CHILDREN.
Not for 35-year-old women whose emotional reaction to the election of an American president was to disappear into a special chair for a year so she could indulge in unfettered infantile behavior and limitless self-pity. In any sane world, this woman wouldn’t be going with friends to Orlando so she could pretend to be Harry Potter. She would be taking her children to an amusement park so THEY could enjoy the rides. But she has no children. Instead, she has an extended childhood with no end in sight. Even though she’s already lived longer than the vast majority of her ancestors.
Furthermore, it’s not enough for her to be a child. She has to also appropriate the language, behavior, and mindset of minorities who face discrimination. The way she yaps on about “sizeism” and “sizeist” people. Lady, THAT’S NOT A REAL WORD and IT’S NOT A REAL THING. But we live in a world where victimization is virtually the only effective social currency left and she will be God-dammed if she doesn’t get a piece of it for herself. She’s Martin Luther King and the Harry Potter ride is her “Bull” Connor.
Let me tell you something: She’s going to get her way on this. Universal Studios will eventually make the ride fat-friendly. It will be more uncomfortable and even dangerous for children as a result, but children don’t spend money like Miss Butterbeer here and neither do their financially-strapped parents. Furthermore, the child who turns into an adult is a customer for a relatively short time. The perpetually stunted woman-child, on the other hand, will do business with you for the next thirty years. This past weekend, I had a conversation with my son that went something like this:
“Do you want to go to Cedar Point this year?”
“I… guess. Also, we could go to (name of indoor karting place).” I can’t blame him. The indoor karting place doesn’t expect him to use the same equipment as a 350-pound middle-aged woman. It’s not designed around the expectations and beliefs of people who are too emotionally stunted to have even the most fleeting encounter with objective reality. It’s just a nice place for kids to have fun. Which is what amusement parks used to be.
Mark my words, this society cannot persevere if it consists solely of childless people pretending to be children as they compete for the gold medal in the Oppression Olympics. It’s all well and good to terminate all inconvenient childhoods so you can keep your own but unless all this recent research on reversing telomere-chain degradation pays off the endgame is gonna be bleak. And what happens when the Childhood-Industrial Complex realizes that the supply of thoroughly infantilized American adults is drying up due to natural causes? What’s their endgame?
Good luck with that.
Alright, you muggles, it’s off to the, um, magic chamber… the hell with this, I’ve never read a single word of Harry Potter. When I want to read young-adult fiction I pick up Barry Hannah.