18 years ago, Monica Lewinsky went through hell. It inspired her to create these emojis.
Monica Lewinsky knows a thing or two about bullying.
As the 22-year-old former White House intern at the center of Bill Clinton's most notorious sex scandal, Lewinsky endured a round of public humiliation that rivals any in recent history.
Now, 18 years after the protracted political saga that upended her life, she's back on a mission to helping kids fight back against online bullying.
The emojis, which Lewinsky conceived with a friend, are designed to send a message.
According to Lewinsky, who wrote an op-ed for Vanity Fair introducing the project, the icons give smartphone users a simple, direct way to say, "I'm here for you, and I've got your back," to anyone they see being attacked online. The designs — hands reaching out on either a heart-shaped or round colored background — are intended to evoke solidarity.
"Support — whether it’s from friends or strangers — matters," Lewinsky wrote.
The emojis were developed in collaboration with Vodaphone and are currently available for free download on iOS devices.
Lewinsky recalls that support from friends, family, and strangers was critical for her when the shaming and mockery over her affair with Clinton became almost too much to bear.
"In 1998, there was quite a long period of time where the highlight of my day was going down the hall to the lobby to get the mail," Lewinsky said in a video piece that accompanies her article. "I received so many letters from strangers who were offering support in different ways, and that was really a sea of compassion and support that helped me survive that period."
Now she wants to make sure that kids who are going through hell online can receive the same support from those closest to them.
Calling out bullying is important. But for Lewinsky, allying with victims is even more crucial.
"Knowing you are not alone — is vital and can even save lives," Lewinsky wrote.
Pretty great for a second act.