When Fallon Melillo and her friends bought tickets to a Miami party bus, they expected to make great memories. Instead, Melillo was confronted with a nightmare.
‘Sorry, No Big Girls For This Party’
Melillo took to TikTok to share her experience with Spring Break Miami Party Service. She and her friends bought tickets to a party bus, which would take them to the DAER Dayclub at Miami’s Hard Rock Hotel.
After paying $40 per ticket, Melillo found a gut-wrenching event description on the company’s Eventbrite page.
“Sorry, No Big Girls for this party!” The description read. “The doorman is very strict on appearance. If you have had problems getting into exclusive clubs before, then this is not for you. Please don’t waste your time nor ours if you know you do not meet the qualifications.”
Melillo, a plus-size woman, states that she bought her tickets through a social media promoter. The promoter, she says, did not disclose any of this information.
‘It’s Technically Not Illegal’
Melillo and her friends showed up to the party bus despite the disclaimer. Sure enough, the company turned them away at the door.
“It’s technically not illegal. There’s no law. But it’s just downright awful and rude and humiliating. Because I’m bigger, I guess, than the average girl [note: she’s not], they decided to tell us that we can’t get on the party bus,” Melillo said.
In a follow-up video she said, “A lot of people are commenting, ‘Just lose the weight.’ Sometimes, people just can’t.”
“Sometimes, it’s genetics. You have disorders and diseases that prevent them from being able to lose weight,” Melillo explained. “Holding that against them and denying them access to a club or an event or a party is just downright cruel.”
‘This Has Been Going On For A Long Time’
Melillo posted a follow-up video the morning after her first video on Aug. 9. She revisited the party bus company’s Eventbrite page and found a few noteworthy changes.
“They took the actual sentence of ‘bigger girls not allowed,’ and they put it into a more, I guess, friendly phrase: ‘A model look is encouraged.’ Whatever that means,” Melillo said. “A model could be anything nowadays.”
“If you read lower, you can see that they would [*air quotes*] like to welcome everyone, but they’re exclusive,” Melillio continued. “So, they reserve the right to deny you. Instead of blatantly showing their discrimination online, you have to go in-person to be embarrassed and denied at the door.”
“From my understanding, this has been going on in Miami for a very long time,” she added.
And Melillo is right—partially. In reality, it’s been going on everywhere for decades.
The Long And Pervasive History Of Anti-Fat Rhetoric
Fatphobia can be as severe as medical discrimination, both general and reproductive. Or it can look as “harmless” as the slew of “Quarantine 15” memes that surfaced in the middle of the pandemic last year.
Size discrimination affects virtually all aspects of a fat person’s life, from public transportation to wages. Plus-size women often bear the brunt of this marginalization.
Despite this, the U.S. SEC’s list of discriminatory offenses does not include size discrimination.
‘It’s Something That’s Really Problematic In Our Society’
Melillo explains that this lack of legal protection is why she shared her experience online.
“This is really damaging to the mental health of bigger individuals. It also promotes binge eating disorder, anorexia, and bulimia,” she said. “Just because this is how it’s been for such a long time doesn’t mean we have to accept this or that it’s right.”
According to NBC 6 Miami, the Spring Break Miami Party Service admitted to posting the ad but denied they ever sold a ticket to Melillo. The news site claims that DAER Dayclub is offering Melillo and her friends a VIP experience.
The CEO of the Hard Rock Hotel also reached out to Melillo personally. “He was very apologetic and told me he would not be working with those promoters anymore,” she explained.
When asked about any other concerns, Melillo cited the DAER Dayclub’s advertising, which features only thin, “traditionally attractive” women. “I told him to look into it, and he told me that he would,” Melillo said.
‘Even If You’re Skinny, Look For A Different Company’
In Melillo’s original video, she called for a boycott.
“I understand if you’re trying to go to Miami and have a fun time, but I urge you not to use this company. Even if you’re skinny and would be allowed on the bus,” she continues, “I just don’t think it’s right to be supporting a business and giving them money to support this idea.”
Fat people don’t need to learn about fatphobia. They already experience it daily. But as more people hear about Melillo’s story, we can only hope that society will follow suit and put an end to systemic fatphobia.
If you’d like to help, consider donating to or getting involved with organizations like NAAFA (National Advance Fat Acceptance) or the FLARE Project (Fat Legal Advocacy, Rights, and Education).