Monica Lewinsky’s made a very public “mistake” before in her past by engaging in an affair with former U.S. President Bill Clinton –– much of which will be revealed in Ryan Murphy’s Impeachment: American Crime Story. That same mistake is part of the reason she can empathize with pop star Britney Spears and the chaos of having her character tainted in the media. In her latest interview with Instyle, Lewinsky opened up about her thoughts regarding Britney’s pursuit of autonomy and reclamation of self.
“I think it’s long overdue and wonderful to see it happening for different women in different arenas and scenarios,” she tells the outlet. “I made a mistake. Britney didn’t. There were other young women this happened to, and there’s an enormous amount of collateral damage. So I think it’s not just an apology to a person; it’s an apology to how you’ve affected a culture. What is sexual agency? What does it mean? It’s not surprising that this de-objectifying of women is happening alongside the #MeToo movement. They braid together in a way that makes sense.”
Lewinsky reveals she actually met Spears once in the early 2000s. “She was with Justin Timberlake, and she was going into Henri Bendel just as I was leaving,” she shared. “I had my handbag company at the time, and she said she thought the bags were cute. I was beside myself, so I got her some. But at that time I wasn’t able to have the perspective to recognize, ‘Oh, this is happening to other women.’ When the fat-shaming happened to Jessica Simpson [in 2009], I thought, ‘Oh, OK. This didn’t just happen to me. This is happening now to other people too.’ Not that that’s a good thing.”
What makes their stories so enticing despite the nastiness that each of the women went through considering the fat-shaming, sex-shaming, and instability is their will to live past their worst experiences, she says.”I think that it defies the odds. I have a friend I’ve known for 15 years, and every time I see her, she says, ‘I can’t believe you’re still alive,'” she says. “Just having survived those past traumas. I’ve had a lot of growth in the last year in ways that I never would have expected.”