America’s least-favorite GOP representative, Rep. Matt Gaetz, is facing backlash after bullying and body-shaming a teenager from Houston. His remarks toward the activist came after she responded to other controversial remarks the Republican congressman made about abortion rights activists at a Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in Tampa, Florida, on Saturday.
"Why is it that the women with the least likelihood of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions?" the congressman asked the audience during the event. "Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb.”
"These people are odious from the inside out. They're like 5'2”, 350 pounds, and they're like, 'Give me my abortions, or I'll get up and march and protest.’"
While many responded back to Gaetz’s comments, one reply stood out more than others. Houston activist Olivia Julianna, a 19-year-old who works as a political strategist with Gen-Z for Change, went viral after she responded to Gaetz and was applauded for putting him in his place.
As of Wednesday morning Julianna’s fundraiser raised more than $214,000!
Julianna tweeted: "I'm actually 5'11. 6'4 in heels. I wear them so small men like you are reminded of your place." She also called Gaetz an "alleged pedophile," referring to allegations that the congressman paid to traffic a minor for sex.
Of course, Gaetz’s ego is even bigger than his forehead, so he just had to reply. He responded to Julianna's tweet by sharing an article from conservative media outlet Newsmax. The article’s unpopular opinion was that Gaetz’s rant is "sure to raise [the] dander of his political opponents." Gaetz included a photo of Julianna, captioned "Dander raised..."
But Julianna wasn’t fazed; she came back with an even better reply.
"Am I not a little too old for you Matt? I know you have a thing for targeting teenagers but 19 is on the cusp don't you think?"
Clips of Gaetz's speech and the activists’ reply quickly went viral. Several high-profile individuals have dragged Gaetz for his actions and for targeting the teen. Hosts of The View not only played aspects of his speech but also called him out for being a hypocrite.
“So says the man who supposedly pays for sex,” Whoopi Goldberg said, again referring to the federal investigation into credible allegations (and Venmo receipts) that Gaetz paid money to sexually assault a minor who was transported across state lines.
Julianna is being praised nationwide for her response. She even was able to fundraise thousands for abortion access as a result of her contentious interaction with Gaetz. She not only shared her story of having previously struggled with eating disorders and body image issues, but even applauded Gaetz for bringing attention to the issues she has been fighting for.
"Unfortunately for Matt, I've since recovered [from her eating disorder] and done the work to improve my mental health so his insults and targeted attacks toward me do not deter me—they make me thrive," she said. "Petty insults and political games don't scare me. In fact, I'd like to thank Gaetz for bringing attention to me and my work."
"Now I have even more supporters rallying behind me and behind abortion rights," she said.
As of this report, she raised more than $28,000 in abortion funds through her fundraiser.
Despite the backlash, Gaetz defended and stood by his comments in an interview with Pensacola news station WEAR-TV on Monday. When asked by a reporter if he was suggesting that women at abortion rights rallies are ugly and overweight, Gaetz said: "Yes."
When he was asked what he would say to those who found his comments offensive, Gaetz responded: "Be offended."
Julianna also issued a statement on Monday noting that Gaetz "should worry less about what abortion rights activists are doing and more about whether or not he's going to end up behind bars for his indiscretions and misconduct."
"A sitting congressman decided that body shaming a teenager was appropriate—but I’m not shocked, seeing as Gaetz’s judgment has been questionable at best since he took office," she added.
She also called the politician out in a TikTok video, which has been viewed more than 1 million times.
Gaetz clearly messed with the wrong people. The fact he tried to come back at a member of Gen Z on social media is even more entertaining. Did he really think he could succeed on a platform that generation thrives on? Even Julianna called out Gaetz for his misguidance and trespassing on Gen Z's terrority.
“Lol. You tried to start a social media brawl with a Gen Z social media girly,” she tweeted at him. “How dumb.”
According to Teen Vogue, since posting her rebuttal, Julianna has gained 20,000 followers across social media platforms. Gaetz, on the other hand, has received a great amount of shaming— definitely recommend heading to Twitter to read some of the trending replies to his comments.