A Documentary You Can’t Miss: Miss Americana

Taylor Swift, the current recipient of the Artist of the Decade award, bares it all in her new Netflix documentary, Miss Americana, which is playfully named after one of her newer songs recently released in 2019. Through this documentary, viewers get a behind the scenes look into Swift’s life, learning that it isn’t as picture-perfect as one may think. Breaking away from her innocent “good girl” persona, Swift is not afraid to discuss serious issues and topics such as politics, sexual assault, and eating disorders and by doing so, this documentary enlightens its audience to the trials and tribulations that come with being as successful as Swift is in the music industry. 

Growing up in the spotlight can be overwhelming and hard to adjust to, especially when you become famous in high school, at an age where people are just beginning to embrace their individuality and find themselves. Although she could connect with her true self through songwriting and expressing creativity, her team managing her career enforced an innocent good-girl stereotype upon her that soon became tiring. On the topic, Swift divulged, “A nice girl smiles and waves and says thank you. A nice girl doesn’t make people feel uncomfortable with her views.” In order to maintain the facade that became her hallmark brand, Swift was always urged to shy away from politics, feuds with other celebrities, or even dressing in ways that people could find unappealing. After releasing her album, 1989, Swift went on a hiatus because the spotlight, drama, and the constant upkeep of this fake persona became too overwhelming for her. After a few years, she entered the Reputation era with a bold statement: “The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ‘cause she’s dead.’” Since then, Swift has not let what other people may think of her affect her as much, has chosen to dress in whatever way she feels comfortable, and will boldly speak her mind on pressing societal and political issues. 

Most likely stemming from growing up in a society that values women for their thin bodies over their merit, Swift shares with her fans that she is prone to anorexic tendencies. She mentions that if she sees a photo of herself that other people criticize or that she finds a problem in due to one trait or another, she will begin to starve herself and work out excessively in order to fix the problem. She realizes now that this is a very unhealthy way of thinking and that she is worth so much more than her weight, which was never even a problem in the first place. After she stopped this behavior, she revealed that she has so much more energy after performing and feels stronger than ever. Since so many young women experience problems with eating disorders, Swift felt that it was important to speak out on the issue and on the topic of how women’s bodies are portrayed in the public eye, Swift wants fans to know, “There’s always some standard of beauty that you’re not meeting, because if you’re thin enough, then you don’t have that a** that everybody wants, but if you have enough weight on you to have an a**, then your stomach isn’t flat enough. It’s all just ******* impossible.”  Swift's quote serves as a reminder that people come in all shapes and sizes, and although it is normal to feel insecure sometimes, as society plants unhealthy ideologies in people’s minds, everyone is beautiful in their own unique way. 

Sadly, Swift also shared her experience dealing with a sexual assault trial in 2017 against a man named David Muller, who put his hand up Swift’s skirt and groped her while their picture was being taken together. After Swift went public with the allegations, she sued Muller for one dollar, because the lawsuit was not about pining for money, but instead about standing in solidarity with women who know this reality all too well. When asked about how she felt about the process Swift shared, “you don’t feel a sense of any victory when you win because the process is so dehumanizing.” Seeing that so many of her fans are women and that 81% of women have experienced sexual assault in their lifetime, it is imperative that Swift contributes to the ongoing conversation in regards to this pressing issue. 

Recently, her most controversial statement has been a statement in support of the LGBTQ+ community, as reflected in her single “You Need To Calm Down.” Swift actively encouraged younger audiences to get out and vote in the Midterms of 2018, taking place in Nashville, Tennessee. She openly spoke out against Marsha Blackburn, a Republican running for Senate who opposed LGBTQ+ rights and additionally,  promised to vote against a bill that protected women from stalking, sexual assault, and domestic violence. Swift could not stand by and let this happen in her home state of Tennessee, so for the first time in her career, she broke her political silence and posted a letter on Instagram, urging her followers to get out and vote, as well as stating her issues with Marsha Blackburn’s policies. Unfortunately for Swift, Blackburn still took office in her home state, but Swift’s statement didn’t go unnoticed, and many were proud of her for sharing her opinion. As seen in the documentary, her team was nervous about this risky move, but Swift felt it was important that she speaks her mind and not stay silent about issues near to her heart. 

Overall, Miss Americana was a revealing, exciting, and honest look into Taylor Swift’s life and fame. Swift has evolved over the years, and through the ups and downs that come with fame, has become the strong, bold, and career-oriented woman that she is today proving that Swift is a true role model for women everywhere, and it’s no question that her continued success will allow her to carry on the conversation of these very important issues.