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Teen body-shamed by Rep. Matt Gaetz turns insult into $531K abortion rights fundraiser

The 19-year-old flipped the script on the congressman's hateful comments by announcing a fundraising campaign on behalf of Gen Z for Change.

Teen body-shamed by Rep. Matt Gaetz turns insult into $531K abortion rights fundraiser
Cover Image Source: Twitter/Olivia Julianna

A Texas teenager has raised more than half a million dollars for abortion rights after being bullied online by the Florida Republican congressman Matt Gaetz. Olivia Julianna, a 19-year-old abortion rights advocate, felt compelled to respond when she saw the fatphobic, misogynistic comments Gaetz made to a crowd of college students at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in Tampa, Florida, over the weekend. "Why is it that the women with the least likelihood of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions? Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb," he told the crowd of young conservatives, reports TODAY. "I'm thinking, March? You look like you've got ankles weaker than the legal reasoning behind Roe v. Wade." 


Olivia Julianna—who uses her first name and middle name publicly because of privacy concerns—took to Twitter to criticize Gaetz's comments, referencing the ongoing investigation into his alleged sexual encounters with a 17-year-old and federal sex-trafficking law violations. Gaetz emphatically denies the allegations and has not been charged with any crime. "I was not surprised at the level of just outright misogyny and fatphobia that was being perpetuated," the teen said. "So I tweeted a statement out being, like, a little sassy." 


"It's come to my attention that Matt Gaetz—alleged pedophile—has said that it's always the 'odious... 5'2 350 pound' women that 'nobody wants to impregnate' who rally for abortion," the teen tweeted. "I'm actually 5'11. 6'4 in heels. I wear them so the small men like you are reminded of your place." In apparent retaliation, Gaetz decided to use his 1.4 million followers on Twitter to target the 19-year-old by tweeting an image of her next to a news story that mentioned his comments from the rally. 


"He just decided to go straight into body-shaming me," said Olivia Julianna, who lives in Houston, Texas. "So from there, I just started defending myself and thinking about how I can turn this situation into something positive that also could potentially do something good for the community." The teen activist decided to "flip the script" on the congressman's hateful comments by announcing a fundraising campaign on behalf of the nonprofit Gen Z for Change, a 500-person youth-led group that says it seeks to create tangible change on "issues that disproportionately affect young people" and supports abortion rights.




The campaign quickly surpassed its $500,000 goal since Olivia Julianna first tweeted a link to the fundraiser on Monday night, with a total of more than $532,000 raised as of Thursday morning. "This is absolutely the most insane amount of donations we have had thus far from individuals, especially in such a short frame of time," the young activist told The Washington Post in an email. "On a broader scale, this highlights the extreme power of social media mobilization, and it shows Republican politicians that their cheap attacks and political theater will no longer be tolerated."




Olivia Julianna, who grew up as a queer Latina in a small conservative rural Texas community, explained that the donations will be split among 50 abortion funds, with the goal of widening access to abortion services, birth control and contraceptives, among other reproductive healthcare services. "I would like Matt Gaetz to know he picked the wrong activist" to start a fight with, she said. "I've been mocked, ridiculed and harassed for most of my life. I will not tolerate that kind of behavior anymore." The youngster stated that while she knows her body and her identity will be used as political fodder in her career, she isn't worried about anyone who feels inclined to follow Gaetz's lead. "Don't mess with Texas women and don't underestimate Gen Z," she said. "I think a lot of times they think because I'm a young activist, I'm just going to be doe-eyed and I'm going to sit there and take their hatred and bigotry. I'm not. This is not business as usual."


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