“This Scandal Was Brought to You by the Digital Revolution”
When I was 12 I remember seeing Monica Lewisnky’s face plastered across the corrugated screen of our massive tube box television for the first time. She became a star overnight in the worst possible way, an ‘icon of who not to be’ — the Walter Palmer of a younger generation.
I didn’t know much about politics as a pre-teen — I still don’t — but I aspired to precocity, and if there was one thing I did understand, it was that Monica Lewinsky was the best joke of the decade, a public figure to be derided, slut-shamed – chewed up thoroughly by pop culture only to spit back out into a Jenny Craig ad. My brace-faced neighbor and I even decided to dress as Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky for Halloween, unknowingly trick-or-treating as part of the nation’s first encounter with cyberbullying, a wave of of international ignominy that almost drove a 24-year-old girl to suicide.
Recently, Monica Lewinsky has peeked her face back above the parapet to re-tell her story and remind us that perhaps we were a little too unforgiving of her situation in the late 90s. Not only is she making a successful attempt at reclaiming her own narrative, she’s working to use her well-known story as a prime example in advocacy against cyberbullying and internet shaming.
Where Are They Now: Monica Lewinksy
But where did Monica go after she and her black beret became a household image?
While discussing the period in her life in a widely-viewed Ted Talk last March, Lewinsky can’t help but get emotional. Barely across the threshold of adulthood, she was tattooed with the nation’s Scarlet Letter. Monica’s mother had to help lead her out of that dark period sitting by her “bed every night” and even “made [her] shower with the bathroom door open.” Monica’s hobby, knitting, helped her to shut out the media’s maelstrom.
No longer able to pursue a career that had been torn to shreds, Monica stayed where she’d been placed as a pseudo-celebrity, grappling to turn her fame into something that would help her pay her legal fees.
At first she released a line of handbags under the company name The Real Monica (bags that looked like something Blossom would carry around), and in 2000 she became a spokesman for Jenny Craig under a million dollar contract. However, soon after the ads began appearing, Monica was deemed too controversial by the company, her ads were pulled and she only received 1/3 of the money out of the initial contract. She continued hanging out to dry, making comedic cameos on SNL and The Tom Green Show, hosting a reality dating TV show, and guesting on several others like The View, Jimmy Kimmel and Graham Norton.
Say Goodbye to The Real Monica
After Clinton’s biography My Life came out in 2004 Lewinksy slammed him publicly for not fulling addressing all aspects of their affair. “He could have made it right with the book,” she said to the Daily Mail, ” but he hasn’t. He is a revisionist of history. He has lied.”
And with that, Monica decided to pack up what was rest of her life and move it in an entirely new direction — out of the country. She quit making her handbags, and moved to London to study social psychology at the London School of Economics. However, even after years abroad and graduating with a Masters of Science she had difficulty finding a job, a relationship, a new home and a purpose.
So Monica spent the next decade below the waterline, waiting for the right moment to return and use her public reemergence in an effort to turn the tide.
This woman is BRAVE. Before you react, find out what she’s been doing…