The priceless victory that a teenager gave to all who were shamed


Of course he went.

Of course, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), when he looked for a way to insult abortion rights activists, disparaged their appearance.

Of course, in the face of criticism for his lyrics, he felt entitled to share the photo of a teenage activist, prompting his many Twitter followers to take a look.

Sure. Sure. Sure.

I know I wasn’t the only woman who felt those two words rolling around in her head after learning that the congresswoman was targeting 19-year-old Olivia Julianna, causing others to hurl hateful words at her.

She publicly share a message she received. It was filled with expletives and racial slurs aimed at her identity as a queer Latina. The part that can be printed in a family publication reads: “I don’t think you have to worry about someone wanting to touch your body, your fat… Here’s a tip for your ‘lifetime’ struggle . Put the fork down and keep your face out of the dorito bag…”

Most people would agree that these words are cruel. But if you’re female or a member of the LGBTQ community and often find yourself in a position that often gets you on social media platforms, they probably feel familiar too. Too familiar.

You’ve probably received similar ones from strangers who felt they had a right to scrutinize your photo and let you know what they thought of your face or body.

You probably deleted similar messages from your inboxes and, much to your annoyance, found yourself thinking about it later.

I know we’re not supposed to admit it, but these shameful posts can sting. They can slip just under the skin like a splinter, proving bothersome and bothersome, if only temporarily.

If you’re a man reading this and thinking about how you’ve also been the victim of body shame, that’s no reason to dismiss the vitriol that women and members of the LGBTQ community receive. It is a reason for empathy. That’s a reason to wonder how often you get these types of messages compared to them.

I know plenty of women who have it regularly. I receive them regularly.

The jeans in my closet right now range from size 4 to size 14. As an adult, I felt confident in all of these sizes. Just as the width of my nose speaks to my Mexican roots, so does my 5-foot-1 height and the thickness of my curves. They are mine. They are me. My stomach may not be flat, but it has adjusted to accommodate two babies who have transformed into two little boys who now comfortably rest their heads on them when we cuddle.

They call themselves ‘fat riders’ – and they want to get more people of all sizes riding bikes

When you’re a columnist, getting critical posts is part of the job. You expect people to disagree with your opinions. I try to respond to as many reader emails as possible, including the most cutting ones, because I believe we grow from having a respectful dialogue with people who think differently from us. I’m not easily offended either. I once wrote to a reader, “It’s clear from your email that you care deeply about this issue, which is why I’m taking the time to respond to you (and I forget you addressed me stupid).”

But when I receive rude, sexist or racist emails, I delete them immediately. I don’t do it because they make me feel insecure. I don’t give them that power. I remove them because they are disrespectful and usually come from misogynistic trolls who believe the best way to make a point is to claw at a stranger’s skin.

These trolls, of course, have reason to believe that this tactic will work. They have been empowered by prominent figures who openly use them.

Gaetz didn’t whisper his shameful insults to abortion rights activists. He said them on the microphone in front of an audience at a conference last Saturday.

“Why are the women least likely to get pregnant the most afraid of having an abortion? Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb,” he said. “These people are hateful inside and out. They’re about 5′2, 350 pounds and they say ‘give me my abortions or I’ll get up and march and protest’ and I think, ‘March? Looks like your ankles are weaker than the legal reasoning behind Roe vs. Wade. A few of them have to get up and walk. They have to get up and walk about an hour a day, swing those arms, get the blood pumping, maybe toss in a salad.

If you followed what happened after that, then you know that Olivia Julianna, who publicly goes by her first and middle names for privacy reasons, turned her comments into a colossal victory for the right to abortion.

Gen Z activist mocked by Gaetz raises $1 million for 72-hour abortion access

After Gaetz job her photo accompanied by a link to a report recounting her insults, she called on people to contribute to a fundraiser for the non-profit association Gen Z for Change. By Friday night, more than $1.7 million had been raised to fund abortion.

What happened between Gaetz and Olivia Julianna will rightly be remembered as a million-plus win for abortion rights activists. But it was also more than that. It brought another win – one that seemed priceless. In this wave of donations and messages of support that followed Gaetz’s actions, there was a collective stance against body shaming. There were many people who came together to acknowledge that a line had been crossed and to show that they were not okay with doing nothing about it.

“This movement, this mobilization, this collective action – really impressed me,” Olivia Julianna said in a statement late Thursday after fundraising topped $1 million.

She also addressed her relationship with her body in this statement.

“I’ve struggled with eating disorders and body image issues all my life, I was hospitalized last December partly because of it,” she said. “Rep. Gaetz’s comments were reprehensible, disgusting and downright despicable, but I’m glad he directed his bigotry in my direction. We have now turned hate into health care, and people across the country will be able to access abortion services because of it.

Of course, this event will not stop the body-shaming.

Of course, much more work is needed to change this part of our culture.

After Olivia Julianna confronted Gaetz, a woman who is a professional in a field aimed at protecting people tweeted about how she is often shamed. When I contacted her to ask if she would allow me to share this tweet with you, she hesitantly agreed. But what she said next made me decide it wasn’t worth it. She knew it would probably bring her more attacks.

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