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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on sexism, the Senate: 'Women's voices need to be heard'

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said she doesn't plan to single out the male colleagues who have made sexist remarks about her weight or looks, because it's more important to stress that those comments are made all the time to working women everywhere — not just on Capitol Hill.

“These are challenges women face in the workplace in every career, in every profession,” Gillibrand told Matt Lauer on TODAY Monday.

In her new book, “Off the Sidelines,” the junior senator from New York writes that male lawmakers have told her “you’re even pretty when you’re fat" while she was pregnant and have encouraged her to continue working out “because you wouldn’t want to get porky.” Gillibrand is only the sixth woman to have given birth while serving in Congress. 

Sen. Gillibrand also told TODAY:

  • On being told she was "fat" while pregnant: "It’s crazy for someone to equate pregnancy with being fat. And it was outrageous, but those comments weren’t the worst. The worst were after I had the baby. The worst were when I’m just being appointed to being senator, and I’m told by labor leaders and advisors that I can’t win a statewide race being heavy. I was literary told, ‘You need to be beautiful again to win a statewide race.’”

  • On how “easy” she has it compared to other mothers: "Imagine the woman who has no flexibility in her job. Imagine the woman who’s stuck on a work site, or a woman who’s cleaning these beautiful sets tonight. She has no flexibility...I have such a different life than a lot of folks because I have flexibility.”

  • On rumors suggesting she wrote her book to set up a run for the White House: “No, I’m supporting Hillary Clinton, 2016. I think she’s going to be a great candidate and I really admire her,” she said about the former first lady and Secretary of State.

  • And beyond 2016? “I just feel so blessed that I get to do the job I can do ... I can take on the issue of sexual assault in the military, or I can fight for our 9/11 heroes ... Women’s voices need to be heard, and if I can be a part of that, if I can be a part of telling their stories, I can change outcomes." 

Follow TODAY.com writer Eun Kyung Kim on Google+ or on Twitter.

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