A 27-year-old woman is calling out a Miami-based party bus service for allegedly turning her and her friends away from an event they paid for because of her size.
Fallon Melillo was visiting Miami with friends when they decided to buy tickets for a bus run by Spring Break Miami Party Service to take them to DAER Dayclub. The women paid for their tickets and, the day before the bus was set to take them to DAER, Melillo revisited the Eventbrite posting to double-check the meet-up spot, only to read a since-deleted disclaimer that said, “No big girls allowed.”
Melillo and her group contacted DAER through a chat service on the club’s website and were assured by a representative that it did not discriminate against people based on weight. They did not check with the promoter who had ordered them the tickets.
On July 31, the women took an Uber to the meet-up location, and when they went to check-in, a man from the bus company took one of the women aside and said they couldn’t board the bus.
“I assume the gist of the conversation was because of how I looked,” Melillo told In The Know. “I felt like this was discriminatory and not OK. People should not be denied access from events because of how they look.”
The man promised the group would be refunded, but that was the least of Melillo’s concerns.
“I am plus-size. I am confident,” Melillo wrote in an Instagram post about the incident. “But [in] this moment, I felt embarrassed being denied access and turned away at the door to get on a bus, due to my size.”
Melillo already had 38,000 followers on TikTok when she shared what happened to her on the video-sharing platform. Not only did she show a screenshot of the “No big girls allowed” line in the original Eventbrite post, but she pointed out how prevalent fatphobia is in nightlife.
“If there was one video for people to see, I would want it to be this one,” she said to In The Know. “There are a lot of plus-sized people who would most likely be denied from this party bus service, and I felt like even smaller. Straight-sized people shouldn’t support these ideologies.”
Fatphobia is the fear and hatred of fat bodies. It has racist roots and perpetuates negative stereotypes, and is considered one of the most overlooked forms of discrimination in the U.S. Michigan is the only state that has made weight-based discrimination illegal.
“Even though they may have the [legal] right to deny services because weight discrimination does not have protected laws for bigger people, it doesn’t make it [acceptable],” Melillo said. “No change will happen unless people speak up and fight for changes to be made.”
As Melillo further exposed in the video, fatphobia seems to be intrinsically linked to nightlife — particularly in areas like Miami, one of the top 10 cities in the U.S. with the most interest in plastic surgery.
“So many bigger people fear to go out during nightlife or the party scene for this exact reason,” Melillo explained. “So many people commented saying how this happened to them, but you never hear about it in the news. Because people accept that it’s just the way it is and then don’t talk about how it made them feel or how it’s discriminatory.”
Since posting, Melillo’s video has been viewed over 500,000 times, and the comments speak for themselves — this isn’t an isolated incident.
“Legit, this kinda reason is why I won’t even go to Miami,” another commenter added.
“This happened to me five years ago when planning my sister’s bachelorette,” someone said. “A promoter (I forgot his name, honestly.) told me no women [over] 150 pounds [were allowed].”
Melillo explained to In The Know that “it’s not a coincidence” that so many women have had this happen to them. It’s a signal of a much broader social problem.
“It’s not right,” she said. “Experiences like this promote the distorted body image women have, which then increases eating disorders. It’s a vicious cycle.”
As of writing, neither Spring Break Miami Party Service, nor the promoter the women were working with, have responded to Melillo’s accusations. Melillo also clarified that she had no problem getting into DAER Dayclub; it was specifically the bus service that had discriminated against her.
“I thought if people saw this and listened to my story that they would see there is a serious problem in our society with fatphobia,” Melillo said. “There’s a huge part of me that is so appreciative that people read my story, and my voice is being heard. This is something that needs to be addressed.”
Aside from not supporting businesses with arbitrary weight discrimination rules, Melillo said it’s important for people to keep coming forward to expose companies who may contribute to fatphobia and weight-based discrimination.
“Talk about it. Post about it. Make your experience known. If only one person comes out and complains or makes their experience known, sooner or later the coverage will die off, and people will forget about it,” she said. “Businesses need to be held accountable.”
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