Taylor Swift has been famous almost as long as I have been alive. It feels like she’s been a constant presence in my life; I have never known a time before Taylor Swift. When I was younger, I followed along with everyone else’s opinions of her. When everyone was pining after her soft, bouncy curls from the Safe and Sound music video in 2012, I made my mom buy me foam curlers from Walgreens so I could get them too. In 2016 when Kim and Kanye had everyone and their mothers calling Taylor Swift a “snake,” I hopped on the bandwagon and did the same, even though I wasn’t that familiar with the situation.
Until the release of Folklore in July of 2020, I kept the mindset that Taylor Swift was overrated, and that she was still a “snake” (I still cannot believe that I believed Kanye West over her). She released the album by surprise, and everyone on Twitter was talking about it, so I decided to see what all the hype was about. What I discovered was my favorite album of all time.
After the release of ME! and You Need to Calm Down the year before, I just assumed that her newer music was supposed to be fun and not have a lot of substance. What I found was an album full of heart and depth and feelings that mirrored my own. This caused me to fall down a Taylor Swift rabbit hole.
Reading and watching more about her made me realize how easy it is to just go along with what everyone else says about someone. Rather than a “snake,” what I found was a seemingly kind-hearted, emotional person who was thrown into fame at 15 years old. Her (false) reputation preceded her.
During the later months of the pandemic, I found comfort in Taylor Swift and how much I could relate to her. She craves the approval of everyone, no matter who they are, because as a woman, that’s what she’s been conditioned to do. She goes above and beyond to try and do the right thing, even if it backfires. In her documentary Miss Americana, she says “My entire moral code is a need to be thought of as ‘good’”, and it felt as though I was hearing my own thoughts verbalized.
A scene in the documentary that particularly stuck out to me was when her agent calls her and tells her that her album Reputation wasn’t nominated for a Grammy. Reputation was a record-breaking, massively successful comeback album. It was a great album, but since it wasn’t considered one of the best by the academy, Taylor responds to that news by saying “I need to make a better album”. The need to strive to be the best at whatever she does is what I found most relatable. She beats herself up for not being what everyone else expects her to be.
I found Taylor Swift at a time when I needed her most. The pandemic was bad for everyone’s mental health, and I was no exception. At my lowest when I felt like I couldn’t do anything right, she gave me the song Mirrorball, an anthem for people who strive to please the people around them. When school started and being online made it difficult for me to do my best, I found solace in the song This is Me Trying. Around three weeks after my grandmother passed away, she released a new album and gave me the song Marjorie. I once saw a tweet that said “maturing is realizing Taylor Swift is not a villain”, and I can attest to that statement. Taylor Swift is a mirror-reflection for girls like me who never feel like their best is enough, and I cannot wait to stream Red when it comes out in November.