Monica Lewinsky's new anti-bullying campaign #DefytheName, takes a strong stance against vicious name-calling

Monica Lewinsky at the 2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party
Monica Lewinsky at the 2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party

Bullying is something many of us can relate to. More so because it starts from our playground days and can last a lifetime. 

It takes on so many different forms, but perhaps the worst of the damage lies not in physical confrontation (which is bad in itself already), but by callously and cruelly tossed words slung someone’s way.

The intent to injure with words goes beyond name-calling. It’s a systematic way of breaking down and crippling someone else’s self-esteem. 

READ MORE: Zodwa Wabantu, Lady Zamar, Bonang Matheba - where do we draw the line between critique and bullying?

It’s a way of attaching a label to someone – a label that often sticks around as a result of the person attaching it and as a result of the person believing it. 

And today, where shaming and harassment has become even more of a public sport through the use of social media, labels and name-calling often stick around much longer than childhood scars. 

No one knows this better than Monica Lewinsky.

Slut. That Woman. Chunky Slut Stalker. 

These are just a few of the things that have followed Monica since the day the Bill Clinton scandal first hit the headlines.

(Side note: funny how she was made more of a target than the man actually responsible for nearly ruining his own marriage.)

The point is that Monica has come to understand that being a woman means you’re held to impossible or double standards and that any mistakes you made will haunt you over and over again. Most importantly your name and reputation will be called into question by almost everyone.

READ MORE: Have we become obsessed with the culture of online shaming

Which is why Monica’s new anti-bullying campaign sets about taking those very names and reclaiming them as a way to empower herself and through this, empower others.

As part of the new campaign, Monica, along with a slew of celebrities like Olivia Munn, Alan Cummings and Lena Dunham have recently unveiled a new Public Service Announcement in light of National Bullying Prevention Month, reports.

As part of this campaign she’s also changed her Twitter username to some of the worst names that she’s been called and is encouraging users on social media platforms to do the same.

In an interview with, Monica revealed that she had a long list of names to choose from and that the names she chose just barely scratch the surface of what she’s been called.

She also makes a valid point about how name-calling is one of the most “common instances of bullying behaviour” and that the aim of the message is to not let the names that people have called you define who you are.

By reclaiming those ugly names, you defy the people who have tried to destroy you with their vicious intent to hurt.

I wish campaigns like this were around when I was younger. I had big breasts when I was younger and was teased mercilessly for something that wasn’t my fault: developing earlier than most.

I was called everything from milk jugs, to watermelons and my 14-year-old self would die a little inside every time someone would point out and make fun of something that I was already painfully self-conscious about.

On top of that, I am also a girl who has quite a bit of body hair (in fact, to this day, I struggle with body issues around this) and have been mocked for that as well.

READ MORE: This Twitter conversation shows that self love means learning to celebrate what you used to hate about yourself

By the time I got to high school, I full on hated myself. And by then I knew that children could really be cruel. 

Today I still struggle with issues around body dysmorphia (I can’t stand showing my legs to anyone even though I shave), and I have of course also undergone a breast reduction surgery.

I promised myself that this would be the spring and summer where I would try and walk outside with a dress and ditch my tights – which is my shield against the world – but my courage seems to fail me every time.

That said, I really appreciate what Monica Lewinsky is trying to do here. Recovering from bullying doesn’t happen overnight, but with time and PSAs that encourage us to reclaim our voice, well, it can definitely go a long way in helping those who have been bullied to bounce back again.

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