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SI Swim Search Model Gabriella Halikas Reports Being Turned Away From L.A. Club Due to Her Size

She took to TikTok and Instagram to detail her experience.
Gabriella Halikas walks the runway for VDM The Label Fashion Show during Paraiso Miami Beach. 

Gabriella Halikas walks the runway for VDM The Label Fashion Show during Paraiso Miami Beach. 

SI Swim Search finalist Gabriella Halikas visited The Highlight Room in Los Angeles last week with fellow plus-size model Alexa Jay. The duo was expecting a fun night celebrating their friend’s birthday. Instead, they had an insulting experience trying to get into the club. 

“It was a group of 15 girls and I was definitely the biggest in the group waiting in line to meet up with the promoter,” Jay said in an Instagram video. “The promoter starts letting in the whole group of girls and right when it gets to me at the front the bouncer puts the rope, looks me up and down and says ‘yeah not tonight.’” 

Jay gave the bouncer the benefit of the doubt and clarified that she was a part of the group. That didn’t change anything. 

“At that point it was extremely clear what was going on,” Jay continued. “I was being discriminated against because of the size of my body.“

Halikas, who was already beyond the rope, tried to help. She went to the front of the line where Jay stood and was given the same treatment.

“What do you mean not tonight?” Halikas said she asked at the time. She added in the IG story that this has happened to her multiple times and she is now finally using her voice to say something. 

“It was so dehumanizing,” Jay said. “It was like we were literally getting looked through. People were watching and seeing what was going on and no one was helping. These people were looking at us like we were scum of the earth. Nobody cared.”

Halikas and Jay understand that as models and influencers with large followings, they have privilege. Even so, they were discriminated against and wanted to share the story for those “who may not have a voice or a social media following.”

“This sh-- is not okay anymore,” Jay said. “We’re holding these people accountable.”

“I’m tired of staying quiet,” Halikas agreed. “This needs to be talked about.”

They included the hashtag #NotTonight to encourage other woman with similar stories to share. 

The Highlight Room gave a statement about the situation to NBC, saying that they were “aware of the Ella and Alexa experience and are actively engaged with them to discuss the incident further.” Jay and Halikas confirmed that they are in contact with the club, but the women have yet to receive an apology. 

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