Teen Activist Body-Shamed by Matt Gaetz Raises More Than $28k in Donations

A teenage activist who was body-shamed on Twitter by Florida Representative Matt Gaetz says she has raised more than $28,000 for abortion funds.

Olivia Julianna, a 19-year-old political strategist for Gen-Z for Change, tweeted on Monday that she was fundraising for the youth-led nonprofit organization's abortion fund "in honor of Matt Gaetz publicly body shaming me."

By early Tuesday, Julianna told Newsweek that more than $28,000 had been collected in donations. The Gen-Z for Choice fund splits donations between 50 abortion funds in states that need resources the most, Julianna said.

"I am an abortion rights activist first and foremost and I will always bring my work into the spotlight when I have the chance," she said.

Olivia Julianna
Olivia Julianna of Gen-Z for Change started fundraising for abortion funds after Rep. Matt Gaetz body- shamed her on social media. She has so far raised $28,000. Elise Joshi

Gaetz has "just learned a valuable lesson that should be echoed to every Republican who thinks about crossing or targeting me—don't mess with Texas women," she added. "I'm not just a teenager, I'm an abortion rights activist and a political strategist—and a damn good one at that."

Gaetz came under fire after he shared a photo of Julianna with his Twitter followers on Sunday, alongside a Newsmax article with a headline describing recent comments he made about abortion rights advocates as a "rant sure to raise dander of his political opponents." Gaetz wrote alongside Julianna's photo: "Dander raised..."

Julianna accused Gaetz of "intentionally directing his followers to harass" her. "This is what happens when a sitting Republican congressman body shames and blasts you on social media," she tweeted alongside a screenshot of a profanity-laden message she had received since Gaetz shared her photo.

She told Newsweek on Tuesday: "Time and time again I've been targeted by hate mobs and right-wingers who think that because of my age that I won't hit back. Unfortunately, they're learning very quickly that not only do I hit back, but I hit back harder than they ever could."

Julianna earlier told Newsweek that Gaetz was "despicable" for targeting her.

"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," she said, referring to Gaetz being under investigation for the alleged sex trafficking of a 17-year-old girl.

Gaetz made fat-phobic and misogynistic remarks 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," Gaetz told the crowd.

"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.'"

Rep. Matt Gaetz arrives on stage
Activist Olivia Julianna says she's raising $13,000 for abortion rights "in honor" of Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz after he body-shamed her. Above, Gaetz arrives on stage during the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in Tampa, Florida on July 23, 2022. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Julianna had responded on Twitter, writing: "I'm actually 5'11. 6'4 in heels. I wear them so small men like you are reminded of your place."

Despite the backlash, Gaetz doubled down on his comments in an interview with Pensacola news station WEAR-TV on Monday.

Asked by a reporter if he was suggesting that women at abortion rights rallies are ugly and overweight, Gaetz said: "Yes."

And then, asked what he had to say to those who found his comments offensive, Gaetz responded: "Be offended."

Newsweek reached out to Gaetz's spokesperson for comment.

Update 7/26/22, 11 a.m. ET: This article and its headline have been updated with current fundraising figures and comments from Olivia Julianna.