Monica Lewinsky has unveiled the latest spot in her ongoing anti-bullying efforts, working with the agency Mischief for the first time—on a powerful two-minute film that sheds light on a certain type of abuse that people often don’t think of as bullying.
The film opens on a set, where a succession of people deliver nasty insults to others. The atmosphere is tense and sad. As the video goes on, the perspective shifts—as we begin to consider this “other” type of bullying, and what we might be able to do to stop it.
The campaign, created for Bullying Prevention Month (October), emerged from new data in which 74% of adults said they are their own worst critic, and a majority admitted that negative thoughts get in the way of them succeeding in life.
These kinds of self-esteem issues aren’t often classified as bullying, but doing so reframes the issue in an interesting way—if you wouldn’t do this kind of thing to others, why do it to yourself?
The film was directed by Dylan Maranda of Sequoia Content.
“For Bullying Prevention Month 2023, I wanted to explore a creative concept that focused on the mental health aspects of bullying—especially coming out of the pandemic. Arguably our most intimate relationship is the one we have with ourselves,” said Lewinsky.
The concept emerged from an exercise Lewinsky participated in more than a decade ago, when she was asked to write a list of negative things she said to herself and then read them aloud.
That exercise was a “wake-up call to how cruel I was being—talking to myself in a manner I would never to talk to someone I love,” she said. “This PSA aims to reshape how we think about negative self-talk by recognizing that the biggest bully we may know is sadly the one in our head. While we might never be able to fully eradicate the inner bully, we can quiet them more often and be kinder to ourselves.”
The work, created in partnership with Dini von Mueffling Communications, is supported by 10 leading anti-bullying and mental health nonprofits: The Childhood Resilience Foundation, The Diana Award, Project Rockit, Ditch The Label, Sandy Hook Promise, Anti-Bullying Alliance, Heartmob, the Hetrick-Martin Institute, Children Mending Hearts and The Tyler Clementi Foundation.
“Nobody wants to think of themselves as a bully. But the reality is we all are, every time we look in the mirror. Nobody speaks more cruelly to us than ourselves,” said Kevin Mulroy, executive creative director at Mischief. “It’s hard to imagine speaking as harshly to someone else as we routinely do to ourselves. We all have these thoughts rattling around in our heads that are just poison for the soul. So, this campaign sprung from a simple question: Why is it OK to say these awful things to ourselves, if we’d never in a million years say them to someone else?”
For more on the campaign, including prevention tools, visit standuptoyourself.com.