Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) listens as President Trump delivers his State of the Union address before members of Congress at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

During President Trump’s State of the Union address, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stood out among a sea of women wearing white as a tribute to U.S. suffragists.

At times she remained seated as others stood.

And serious while others applauded.

In fact, Ocasio-Cortez’s reaction to Trump’s speech Tuesday night was somber — and it prompted a debate on social media about her “sullen” appearance and the apparent condescension in telling a woman to smile.

After the address, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan wrote on Twitter that Ocasio-Cortez “had a rare bad night, looking not spirited, warm and original as usual but sullen, teenaged and at a loss.” The comment drew scorn from some people on social media — including from Ocasio-Cortez, who clapped back against critics.

“Why should I be ‘spirited and warm’ for this embarrassment of a #SOTU?” she responded. “Tonight was an unsettling night for our country. The president failed to offer any plan, any vision at all, for our future.

"We’re flying without a pilot. And I‘m not here to comfort anyone about that fact.”

Since her election to Congress, Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has gained widespread attention.

She has also been known to spar with her conservative critics and fire back, too, such as when then-Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) called the incoming congresswoman “a bright and shiny new object.”

As her facial expressions gained social media attention Tuesday night, some criticized the congresswoman for her mood.

Actor James Woods posted a meme on Twitter showing Ocasio-Cortez sitting in a straitjacket during the State of the Union address.

“Grumpy little thing… ” he wrote.

But others pointed out that Noonan’s tweet — perceived as the equivalent of telling a woman to smile — was offensive.

It didn’t go over well.

“We’re not going to smile and clap like seals to make him or you comfortable,” Charlotte Clymer, with the Human Rights Campaign, wrote on Twitter.

“Ladies, don’t look serious while a man tries to tell you what you can do with your bodies. Smile like an idiot no matter what, and the world is your oyster!” New York-based journalist Laurie Brookins said.

Ann Olivarius, a lawyer and activist, wrote: “Notice how women are constantly asked to smile. To put others at their ease. To appease. To smooth out our jagged edges, to blunt our rage, and, crucially, always make sure everyone else comfortable. And what does it get us?”

But Ocasio-Cortez didn’t throw shade throughout the entire State of the Union address. She cheered as Trump acknowledged the women in Congress.

“Exactly one century after Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote,” the president said, “we also have more women serving in Congress than at any time before.”


Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) high-fives other congresswomen after President Trump acknowledged newly elected female members of congress during his State of the Union address Tuesday at the Capitol. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

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