Chelsea Handler Talks Surviving Public Shaming With Monica Lewinsky

Monica Lewinsky is opening up about the “horrific” shaming she endured in her 20s that she wouldn’t wish on anybody and how she still feels the effects of the negative media attention she received as a result.

During Thursday’s (March 7) episode of the Dear Chelsea podcast, host Chelsea Handler sat down with Lewinsky, now 50 years old, ahead of International Women’s Day (March 8) for a brutally honest, yet still hilarious, discussion about surviving being shamed by the public, learning the importance of using your voice and the power it can bring, and how adversity can help foster growth.

While praising Lewinsky’s “moving” TED Talk on cyberbullying, Handler inquired about how she handled being at the center of a major scandal in the 1990s. The activist and author recalled the “horrific” public shaming she received following her infamous affair with then-President Bill Clinton when she was a 22-year-old White House intern.

“In large part, I think it’s challenging for anybody in the public eye to read or hear something negative about themselves. But I had not chosen to be a public person. I literally went to bed one night a private person and awaken the next morning and there was my name above the fold on the newspaper,” Lewinsky said. “It was a very jarring transition and obviously not something people want recognition [for]. That’s not what you want to become known for, so it was quite challenging.”

Lewinsky said she “went through a period where I became almost obsessed with the negativity,” following the news just like every other person in the country because she felt like it was giving her “clues” about “what was happening legally.”

“I think we’ve all gone through this before when you feel you’re in a helpless feeling situation, any straws that you can grasp for agency can feel valuable,” she said. “But it did a total f—— number on me, so I still deal with insecurities and issues from ways I was talked about both true and untrue.”

She added that she “wouldn’t wish the experience on my worst enemy.”

Since then, Lewinsky has put in the time to work through her trauma and grown in the process, allowing her to handle stressful situations much easier than she would have when she was younger.

“Without the work, you would be a completely different person right now,” said Handler. “You would be so easily triggered by that experience, of not working through that experience, that would only just come up tap you on the shoulder at the most inopportune time. So you’re kind left with no choice but to do the work because it’s the only way out.”

On Dear Chelsea, Handler gives out her advice and answers questions sent in by listeners. In addition to co-host Catherine Law and celebrity guests, listeners can tune in to hear the outspoken comedian’s honest opinions on a variety of topics like love and sex to loss and family problems, all with the blunt humor and edge she is known for.

Everyone who wants to follow along and tune in to Handler’s advice can catch weekly episodes of the Dear Chelsea podcast at

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