NEW YORK -- Angelina Rosa, a former NFL cheerleader for the Houston Texans, has accused the team of abusing her by forcing her to wear duct-tape on the sides of her waist to make her look thinner in a case of what she called "body shaming." Rosa made the claim while joining a lawsuit filed earlier this month by five other former Texans cheerleaders.
The lawsuit alleges they were underpaid and subjected to a hostile work environment.
Appearing at a news conference Friday outside NFL headquarters in Manhattan, Rosa told reporters that she was constantly berated last season and threatened with dismissal for not being skinny enough. Alongside prominent women's rights attorney Gloria Allred, she described being cornered at game time and duct-taped by the cheerleading coach and others right before she was to go out on the field and dance.
"I heard, 'This will hurt a bit,' as my skin was being pulled, stretched and taped," she said. After going through with the performance, she said, "I felt humiliated and ashamed of my own body."
She said teams pick the cheerleaders from the many women who try out, "only to body-shame them, bully them and dictate what other jobs they can have, all while paying them $7.25 per hour." She also accused her coach of calling cheerleaders "skinny fat" to say they were skinny but not toned, CBS Dallas/Fort Worth reports.
A statement posted on the Texans Twitter account earlier this month said the team was looking forward to fighting the allegations and that it does not "tolerate mistreatment of our cheer team or our employees at any time."
Allred said the lawsuit is seeking damages for "pain," "suffering" and lost wages.
"They want to make life better for the future NFL cheerleaders, and it takes their courage for us to be able to win that change," Allred said, according to KHOU-TV.