Two women are speaking out, saying they were denied entry to a popular Los Angeles bar and hotspot because they were plus-sized.
The two women, who are models and social media influencers, said this isn’t the first time something like this has happened to them while trying to enter a bar or nightclub in L.A.
The women shared their story on social media and say it’s resonating with women all over the country who have experienced similar discrimination.
The video has since gone viral, being viewed over one million times on social media.
It wasn’t the way Ella Halikas expected to end her night last Wednesday — by being told she and fellow curvy model Alexa Jay weren’t allowed to enter The Highlight Room in Hollywood.
The women say all of their friends were allowed inside, but claimed the bouncer wouldn’t let them enter because they were plus-sized.
“She asked him ‘Hey what’s going on? I’m actually with that party you just let in,’ and he said, ‘I know,’ and looked her up and down and said ‘Not tonight,’” recalls Ella Halikas of the incident.
The women decided to share the incident on social media, with a clip featuring Halikas saying, “We’re tired of playing safe. We’re tired of just letting this happen and not speaking up about it.”
“It was so dehumanizing,” said Alexa Jay in the viral video. “It was like we were being looked through. If you experienced any type of discrimination like this, you know exactly how horrible and disgusting it feels and we are no longer letting this fly.”
The women believe this problem goes beyond one nightclub. Halikas says she’s received thousands of messages from other plus-sized women sharing similar stories of being turned away from bars and nightclubs.
“One of my plus-sized friends went to a club in New York City and they said, ‘Everyone else can come in,’” said Halikas. “They let in all her thin friends, got to her and said, ‘You can’t get in.’ She asked, ‘Why?’ and he goes, ‘If you want to come in, pay $4,000.”
Halikas tells me she embraces her body and she’s confident, enjoying her career as a swimsuit model while walking runways and gracing the pages of Sports Illustrated magazine. Yet that still didn’t stop her from being turned away.
“It felt like we were alone,” said Halikas. “It felt like we were plucked out of a crowd and I just felt like we need to share this because it’s not about us not getting into the Highlight Room, we don’t care. It’s the bigger picture of how many girls face this every single day. It was discrimination — 100 percent.”
The Tao Group, operators of The Highlight Room responded to the incident by saying:
“We are aware of Ella and Alexa’s experience. The doorman on this particular evening worked for a third-party promotion company and we’ve removed this individual from the door effective immediately. We have made several attempts to resolve the issue directly with Ella and Alexa and even scheduled a meeting within days to address their experience which they unfortunately cancelled. Our company does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. We are always appreciative of feedback on our operations and continue to work on how to improve our guest experience.”
The women say they’re open to meeting with the Tao Group, but say they don’t believe just firing one man at the door is enough. They’re hoping to work on systemic change in the industry while inspiring and empowering other plus-sized women.
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