True Life: I’m An Almost-30 Something That Unironically Loves Taylor Swift

I wrote one of my final papers in college about how Taylor Swift was detrimental to the feminist movement and a negative influence on young girls.

I was adamant in my writings that her lyrics perpetuated dated female stereotypes, created an unhealthy competition between women for male attention, and–most importantly–she determined her self-worth based on her attachment to a man, rather than from within and based on her own talents and contributions as a decent human.

For years, I rolled my eyes when she came on the radio, and I proudly wrote snarky Facebook statuses proclaiming my distaste. I applauded my famous heroes, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, for burning her at the Golden Globes and snarled when I heard Swift’s infamous response. I howled with disdain when she insisted that she was not a feminist. I joined the chorus of “WRITE ABOUT SOMETHING BESIDES YOUR RELATIONSHIPS, TAYLOR SWIFT” that filled my favorite feminist blogs and friendship conversations.

Then, something shifted.

I don’t really know what it was. It may have to do with Lena Dunham. It probably had something to do with how happy the song “Shake It Off” made me and how Swift basically told all her haters, including me, that she didn’t really give a shit about what we thought about her. It definitely had something to do with the “Blank Space” video, which I have watched at least 1039801394810 times, and the lyrics where she made fun of herself and her dating record. And then, this quote happened:

“As a teenager, I didn’t understand that saying you’re a feminist is just saying that you hope women and men will have equal rights and equal opportunities. What it seemed to me, the way it was phrased in culture, society, was that you hate men. And now, I think a lot of girls have had a feminist awakening because they understand what the word means. For so long it’s been made to seem like something where you’d picket against the opposite sex, whereas it’s not about that at all. Becoming friends with Lena – without her preaching to me, but just seeing why she believes what she believes, why she says what she says, why she stands for what she stands for – has made me realize that I’ve been taking a feminist stance without actually saying so.”

Hell. Yes.

That quote is so important. That quote was not just read by pretentious, self-assured feminists like myself. It was read by all of T Swift’s megafans. It was read by young girls who want to be known for more than their gender. It was read by teenage girls who are starting to wonder why the boys get called on more often in math class. It was read by young women that have always though “feminist” was a dirty word that they didn’t want to affiliate with. Because, whether we like it or not, Swift has major influence on her fans and a good chunk of our mainstream society as a whole. And if she is pushing a feminist influence onto her Swifities, then by God I will celebrate the hell out of this woman.

The more I fell under Swift’s spell, the more I found to celebrate. One night I found her on Instagram, and was the last white girl on Earth to follow her. I watched her videos for hours and giggled uncontrollably at her cat videos. I found her Tumblr and watched video after video of her surprising her fans with sincere gifts of love and support. She wrote cards where she knew facts and information about her fans, she sent gifts that related to their hobbies and interests. She didn’t just send them a t-shirt with her face on it and a headshot–this girl thought this shit through. I cried along with these girls at their sincere happiness at receiving such considerate gifts from their idol. Yes, I cried.

I read captions to the photos Swift posted of her gal pals. Captions not too different from my Instagram photos–proclaiming her love for the women in her life, celebrating their strengths and lifting them up. This is not the Swift I wrote about in college, whose lyrics comparing a cheerleader to a ho-hum nobody, and encouraging the man of both their dreams to choose the latter made me red in the face with anger. The Swift I observe today is all about some female empowerment–and that is AWESOME. She loves her friends. She loves their successes. She loves their joy. That is feminism in its core–celebrating the sisterhood we have with each other, and enjoying the growth we find as women.

So, here I am: 27 years old, well-adjusted, and freaking crazy about Taylor Swift. My ears perk up when she comes into conversation. I read articles about her with no cynicism. I looked up buying tickets to her concert and text my friends “Is $150 too much money for a T Swift concert?”. I like her pictures on Instagram and comment in hopes that she’ll catch a glimpse at my words. It’s a weird adjustment to make. But, if I am going to be a true feminist myself, shouldn’t I let go of judgement of Swift’s early-life choices? Wasn’t I a dumb 20 year old once? Didn’t I say dumb shit? Of course. The main difference between me and Swift (besides our heights. And our hair colors. And our entire body shapes) is that her words were open to the world for them to judge, while my words only had to be judged by my peers in classrooms (sorry about some of those dumb words, by the way). If I had the kind of fame and glory she had as a young adult, who knows how stupid people would think I am.

I think it’s remarkable how Swift has grown, and I think her shift into a female empowerment machine is glorious. I don’t know if it’s completely genuine–I’m not naive, and I know she has the best publicist and management team the world can offer her. But…the biggest chunk of me wants to believe that her words, acts of kindness, and overall badassery is sincere. I’m going to believe that, because I want young girls to–I want them to think that you can be a world superpower not just because you’re beautiful, but also because you’re talented, kind to others, and support your fellow woman. That’s the kind of role model girls need.

Hell, that’s the kind of role model any of us need.

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