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By Audrey Kemp | LA reporter

October 3, 2023 | 5 min read

The activist’s thought-provoking film, released for National Bullying Prevention Month, shines a light on a pervasive form of bullying that often goes unnoticed: self-bullying.

Monica Lewinsky, a social activist, filmmaker and Vanity Fair contributing editor, has today released a new PSA that exposes an unrelenting bully that is rarely held accountable: ourselves.

Titled ‘Stand up to Yourself,’ the film launches during National Bullying Prevention Month, a campaign held during the month of October to educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention.

Lewinsky’s spot highlights an often underacknowledged yet rampant form of bullying: negative self-talk. According to a survey fielded for the initiative, 74% of adults say they are their own worst critic, while the majority (55%) admit their negative thoughts prevent them from succeeding in life.

In the film, people read aloud hurtful and insulting remarks to a loved one. They do so with visible difficulty due to the severity of their words. Later in the spot, the people reveal that they would never say these things to someone else, but rather, they are their own negative feelings about themselves.

Lewinsky has endured relentless vilification and vitriol in the 25 years following her affair with former president Bill Clinton. With this new campaign and many anti-bullying efforts before it, the pain of her past is now her purpose, according to a new USA Today report.

“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,” Lewinsky said.

“An exercise I participated in over a decade ago – writing a list of negative things I said to myself and then having to read them aloud was a wake-up call to how cruel I was being – talking to myself in a manner I would never talk to someone I love. 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 campaign was ideated and developed with creative agency Mischief @ No Fixed Address, while communications firm Dini von Mueffling Communications handled publicity efforts.

“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 and partner at Mischief @ No Fixed Address. “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?”

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The PSA supports 10 of the world’s leading anti-bullying and mental health nonprofits; they include 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.

“The mental health crisis has reached a fever pitch, especially for young people who are contending with record levels of isolation,” added Dini von Mueffling, founder and CEO of Dini von Mueffling Communications. “It’s a privilege to work with Monica and this talented team to call out one of the root causes of bullying, the cruel things we often say to ourselves. If you wouldn’t say it to someone else, don’t say it to yourself.”

Interested in seeing more creative campaigns? Check out our Ad of the Day and the Best Ads of the Week sections.

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