The Woman in the Mirror: What Do Monica Lewinsky's Vanity Fair Photos Really Mean?

Vanity Fair released the photos from Monica Lewinsky's shoot with Mark Seliger today. There's a lot to unpack.

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Thanks to Vanity Fair (and probably not the Clintons), former White House intern Monica Lewinsky is back in the public eye at age 40. Her personal essay about the years since her presidential scandal will be released in full on Thursday, butVanity Fair released the photos from her shoot with Mark Seliger today. There's a lot to unpack. The Wire shall do so, thoroughly.

Update, 4:45 pm: Vanity Fair asked that the photos we had published below be taken down. We've added descriptions of the photos and linked to them on

Lewinsky looks great, and you should click over to VF to see the whole collection of hi-def photos. First, there are some light, fun ones of Lewinsky laughing on a couch. These clearly show Monica Reborn. As she writes in her essay, "It’s time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress." Now she is wearing a white dress. She's ready to throw her head back and laugh about the whole thing, and even crack some jokes about that recent Beyoncé lyric. ("Thanks, Beyoncé, but if we're verbing, I think you meant 'Bill Clinton'd all on my gown,' not 'Monica Lewinsky'd,'" she writes in the essay.)

The shoot (and the essay) did turn serious, however. In one image, we see Lewinsky, in a simple white shirt, looking at the camera through a mirror. The way the viewer catches Lewinsky's eyes through the mirror indicates that she is ready to show the public how she sees herself. Her mouth is slightly turned down, showing that she might not be totally comfortable with what she sees yet. Nevertheless, she's ready to let that vulnerability show. 

The most moving photo of the bunch is the last one. A veiled Lewinsky stands on a rainy sidewalk, and there's a car flashing its lights a few feet away. So here's Lewinsky, standing confidently in the rain, dressed like an Italian widow. In the background, we see a male figure — President Clinton? — fleeing the scene. The meaning here is clear: Lewinsky has been standing strong, weathering the storm for the past 16 years. Her love abandoned her under the media's glare (represented by the car's headlights). She's standing in the shadows now, but she's ready to step into the light. And her hair still looks great. Go Monica. 

Check out the full shoot here.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.