Matt Gaetz Slammed For Body-Shaming Teen Activist—'Despicable'

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz is once again under fire on social media, this time for bullying and body-shaming a teenage activist.

Twitter users reminded the controversial 40-year-old Republican that he is under investigation for the alleged sex trafficking of a 17-year-old girl after he made fat-phobic and misogynistic remarks about abortion rights activists to an audience of students on Saturday.

"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," Gaetz said at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in Tampa, Florida.

"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.'"

Gaetz's comments sparked a backlash on social media.

"I'm actually 5'11. 6'4 in heels," Olivia Julianna, a 19-year-old Texan who works as a political strategist with Gen-Z for Change, responded in a tweet. "I wear them so small men like you are reminded of your place."

That tweet appeared to prompt a response from Gaetz, who later quote-tweeted a Newsmax article with a headline describing his comments as a "rant sure to raise dander of his political opponents."

"Dander raised..." he wrote alongside a photo of Julianna.

Julianna hit back, tweeting: "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?"

In another tweet, she noted that Gaetz's tweet didn't include her original response to his comments about abortion rights protesters, which had described him as an "alleged pedophile."

Julianna tells Newsweek it was "despicable" that Gaetz decided body-shaming a teenager on a social media platform was appropriate.

"What Gaetz didn't know when he decided to blast my appearance to his millions of followers is that I have struggled with eating disorders my entire life and was hospitalized in December in part because of it," she says.

"I am now in great standing and in good health maintaining my diabetes and other chronic illnesses that have contributed to my body image issues—but if I was not, this kind of attack could have been catastrophic to my mental health."

She adds: "A sitting congressman decided that body shaming a teenager was appropriate. That is despicable. What's even more despicable is that said congressman is allegedly sexually predatory to minors.

"If I was Matt Gaetz I'd worry more about potential investigations into sexual misconduct and less about teenage activists."

Julianna adds that Gaetz and other Republicans will have to "hit me a lot harder if they want to get rid of me."

She says: "It'll be a cold day in hell when I stop rallying for justice because a Republican wants me to. Matt Gaetz is a creep, and as a side note; if you're going to publicly shame someone for the way they look, you should be ready to look in the mirror. Seems like Matty wasn't taught that saying about throwing stones in glass houses."

Rep. Matt Gaetz speaks during TPUSA
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) speaks during the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit held at the Tampa Convention Center on July 23, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Others also blasted Gaetz for his tweet targeting Julianna.

"@mattgaetz, you are a low life prick," Fred Guttenberg, whose teenage daughter was killed in the Parkland school shooting, wrote.

"Attacking women only shows what a weak pathetic man you are whose insecurities with his manhood are obvious. Stay away from the young girls and grow up jerk. You are the worst of America. Voters will remember this in November."

Journalist Helen Kennedy wrote: "Sitting congressman accused of paying underage girls for sex goes after a 19-year-old. Surely Florida can do better than this repulsive wretch."

Sari Beth Rosenberg added: "There is no bottom when you're as pathetic & desperate as @mattgaetz to tweet this. He should be so lucky as to be as brilliant & beautiful inside and out as the amazing human & activist @0liviajulianna."

Gaetz's office has been contacted for comment.