Fallon Melillo Wasn't Allowed on a Party Bus Because of Her Size, So She Made a TikTok to Call Out the Company
"Fat people experience discrimination for how they look all the time," says Melillo.
One woman has gone viral on TikTok for sharing her story of being denied entry to a party bus because of her size—and she's using her experience to teach others about size acceptance.
Fallon Melillo, 27, first went viral after sharing her story in an August 8 TikTok that's now been viewed more than half million times. Melillo explained in the video how she and several friends wanted to go to a pool party at a Miami club called Daer, which is hosted by the Hard Rock Hotel. So they bought tickets through Eventbrite to go on the Spring Break Miami Party Service Bus to get to their destination.
Melillo's friend bought the tickets for the group in advance. Melillo tells Health that on July 30, she happened to come across the posting for the party bus. The listing had a disclaimer that said, "Sorry, no big girls for this party! 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 thinking that we can get you inside if you do not meet the qualifications."
"I was confused at first and then annoyed because what is a 'big girl?'" Melillo says. "People have various perspectives on what 'big' is." She contacted Daer via their online chat to ask if people need to "look a certain way" to gain entry. "The person on the chat assured us they do not discriminate against weight," Melillo says. "We figured things would be fine."
Melillo and her friends showed up to board the party bus as planned. Her friend went to check them in and was "taken off to the side" by a staffer, Melillo says, noting that they spoke for about five to 10 minutes. "No one approached me from the staff to say anything to me," she says. "[But] essentially the conversation was I could not get on the bus because of how I looked." The staffer refunded the money to Melillo and her friends, and they were sent packing.
"I was just very uncomfortable in that moment and wanted to leave," Melillo recalls, adding that she and her friends "stood there, trying to figure out what we would do next." They ended up buying general admission tickets to Daer and took an Uber to get there. "There were absolutely no issues for me to get into Daer," Melillo says. "No one approached me while I was in the dayclub either about my size or how I looked. The only place that made the way I looked an issue was the party bus company." (Spring Break Miami Party Service did not respond to Health's request for comment.)
Melillo says she felt "embarrassed and sad," but those emotions later turned into anger and frustration. So she decided to speak out on TikTok about her experience. Since then, Melillo has shared several TikToks about it, along with updates on where things stand now.
"Forget how I felt in the moment and look at the real issue at hand," she says. "A disclaimer was posted on an Eventbrite page discriminating against bigger people… . I am just one of many people this has happened to."
Melillo stresses that she is not the only one who has been through something like this. "Fat people experience discrimination for how they look all the time," she says. "The reason why my experience is gaining a lot of traction is because there's actual proof of the discrimination by the company. In most cases, companies are not as blatant with their weight discrimination."
Melillo says she's been "bullied for my weight and how I look" in the past and that she's "overcome" those experiences. "It's not only a part of my story, but a majority of plus-size peoples' stories as well," she says. Being the center of this situation has negatively impacted her mental health. But, she adds, "I am happy that people are talking about this prevalent issue in society."
"We're in 2021: Businesses and companies need to get with it," she says. "Just because this discriminatory behavior has been done for so long in secret doesn't mean we have to accept this."
Melillo urges other people to take her experience as a teaching lesson about fatphobia. "People don't think fatphobia exists, or they say they aren't fatphobic because they're not fearful of fat people," she says. "Even though that may be true, you are most likely fearful to look like a fat person or gain weight....Maybe you silently judge a bigger person eating out in a restaurant. Maybe you think to yourself 'wow she should not be wearing that bathing suit.' That is fatphobia."
"Bigger people just want to live in their body in peace—go to events and have fun," she points out. "But so many plus-size people will avoid events or more specifically nightlife for reasons like this, being denied access to a party bus."
Melillo has spoken to the CEO of the Hard Rock Hotel. She was assured they would not being doing business with this party bus in the future and would "properly vet" other people they do business with to make sure they don't have similar discriminatory policies.
"Ultimately, I hope more people speak out," Melillo says. "It's hard to enact real change with just one person speaking out.…No matter what you look like or how much you weigh, you should still be treated equally by businesses and society."
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