The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
After the release of her new album Midnights, on the 21st of October, Taylor Swift released the music video that she wrote and directed for “anti-hero.” Only a few days later, she quietly edited it after criticism from fans. In her behind the song video, which came out before its release, she detailed how the track is one of her favorites of all time because it’s the deepest she’s ever delved into her insecurities. She talks about how the song is honest because she’s being vulnerable about the things that she hates about herself and coming to terms with those. The music video depicts her struggles including her life becoming too big to handle and always feeling like she’s not good enough. The concept she chooses to display within the video is depicting two Taylors: one who is trying to live her life, and the other who is criticising her and telling her she isn’t good enough. The chorus, “It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me,” essentially tells us that she blames herself for her insecurities and that she’s her own worst enemy.
For many, the song and video are moving and emotional depictions of what it’s like to suffer from body dysmorphia, eating disorders, or even just insecurities surrounding body image. The video is personal, and her vulnerability invites her fans into her insecurities and innermost fears.
The original video shows her standing on the bathroom scales, which spin to read “fat,” while her alter-ego looks over at her and shakes her head. The updated version simply shows her stepping on the scales and the critical look from her alter-ego. This scene is meant to represent her insecurities and how she never feels like she is good enough, therefore, in this context, the choice of the word “fat” names one of her biggest insecurities. For people in the public eye, explicitly laying out their fears and insecurities can be difficult, especially for someone as popular as her, and the response she has received is nothing less than disheartening. While this vulnerability has been met with a plethora of supportive comments from many fans who can relate to her struggles, some people have been accusing her of being fatphobic for using the word “fat” on the scales as a descriptor of her fears. This has resulted in some nasty tweets, comments, and TikTok videos being made about her.
Some people argue that a thin person revealing that they are afraid of being fat is fatphobic as it implies that “fat” is a worst-case scenario, however, many others say that with the lyrics and portrayal of the scene, the fears are all internal and self-inflicted, therefore she had no intention to degrade anyone else or any other body type. Many people are invalidating her insecurities, saying that because she is thin, she can’t be self-conscious, as well as arguing that having an eating disorder doesn’t excuse fatphobia.
The scene immediately cuts to Taylor looking in the mirror while her other persona stands behind, looking over her shoulder, clearly indicating that she acknowledges that her problems are inward. The lines that play alongside the images are, “I’ll stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror, it must be exhausting always rooting for the anti-hero,” referencing her struggles with body dysmorphia and disordered eating. In 2020, Taylor Swift released her film, Miss Americana, which shows the journey she went on to write a previous album, Lover, and it includes clips of her talking about how she would analyse her body in photos of her in the press and “starve” herself for concerts, and after seeing articles about herself in order to appear thin. Many people, knowing this or not, still go out of their way to criticise her for the music video and completely invalidate her insecurities. For someone that appears so much in the public eye, many of us can only imagine what it is like to be under such scrutiny and analysis all the time.
Despite the controversy, Midnights has broken Spotify’s record for the most streamed album in a single day and has had record-breaking Vinyl sales.