A sixth former NFL cheerleader is suing the Houston Texans, claiming she was repeatedly body-shamed and that her coach duct-taped back her skin without her consent.
Angelina Rosa, flanked by famed women's rights attorney Gloria Allred, announced on Friday that she was joining a lawsuit against the Houston Texans because her coach often called her "skinny-fat" — a term she said the coach used to describe someone who was thin, but not toned.
"On numerous occasions, I was belittled and body-shamed," Rosa said. "The coach explained I looked 'skinny-fat' and I needed to work on this if I wanted to continue dancing in the games."
Rosa said that one day before the cheerleaders went out on the field to perform, her coach told her to stay behind in the locker room, and threatened to cut her from the team.
"Before I knew it, Texans logo duct tape was found and I heard, 'This will hurt a bit,' as I watched my skin being pulled stretched and taped," she said.
Feeling "humiliated and ashamed of my own body," Rosa then went out to dance with her teammates. Her skin became sweaty and irritated underneath the tape.
"My skin was being torn," she said.
Rosa joins an existing lawsuit against the team in which five former cheerleaders claim that they weren't paid for many of the hours that they worked, and that they were bullied and sexually harassed.
The suit was filed in Houston federal court earlier this month.
Allred said the team fostered a "culture of fear" in which cheerleaders were "reminded that they were replaceable," all while getting paid a meager $7.25 an hour.
The suit alleges that the Texans didn't compensate the cheerleaders for appearances, including ones during overseas trips, and other job-related tasks. The women also weren't given stipends for food during work trips, it claims.
The other plaintiffs are fellow former cheerleaders Hannah Turnbow, Ainsley Parish, Morgan Wiederhold, Ashley Rodriguez, and Kelly Neuner.
Rosa said she worked out twice a day three to four times a week and said the comments about her appearance prompted her to not treat her body "as I should, just to get the results that she wanted." She recalled surviving off of only popcorn and water to lose weight.
Allred, holding up a picture of Rosa in her cheer outfit, told reporters, "It's ridiculous to call a person who looks like this 'skinny-fat.' First of all, no one should be called fat, let alone 'skinny-fat.'"
Allred said that she filed an amended lawsuit Friday morning with Rosa on it, and adding certain claims, including "assault — which this is."
The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
Rosa said the alleged treatment was devastating, particularly because she had dreamed of becoming a cheerleader since she was a little girl, when her father would take her to sporting events.
"I wanted to be a leader and a role model to the young girls that I once was," she said.
Amy Palcic, vice president of communications for the Houston Texans, said the team had no additional comment on Friday.
Earlier in the month, when the lawsuit was first filed, the team defended its cheerleader program.
"We are proud of the cheerleader program and have had hundreds of women participate and enjoy their experience while making a positive impact in the local community," it said. "We are constantly evaluating our procedures and will continue to make adjustments as needed to make the program enjoyable for everyone."