As a teenager, I kind of hated Taylor Swift.
I said it was because of my general dislike for country music. Which I stand by, to an extent, because I really do not like country music. But, if I’m being honest with myself, which I always try to be, I see now that it was more thanks to me begin young and dumb and judgmental with no small touch of a superiority complex.
Taylor Swift wore sparkly dresses and make-up and sang about boys. I was interested in none of those things, and thought I was better for it. I scoffed at girls who wore short short skirts and eyeliner and curls in their hair. More often than not I dismissed them as vapid, empty-headed, insipid things, not like me. I had a brain in my head. They were pretty, but surely they couldn’t be anything more. This was definitely due to some level of jealousy – I was tall and awkward, a little pudgy and a little pimply and not that happy with myself.
It was also, undoubtedly, due to the way we teach girls to view other girls – as competition. From our earliest years, girls are taught, through both explicit instruction and more insidious whispers and gentle implications, to see other girls as challenges to be beaten and obstacles to be torn down. We are taught to be prettier and smarter, taught to fight each other academically, and later in our careers, taught to compete for male attention and not care how many other girls we trample to get it.
Taylor Swift was pretty and successful and guys loved her, and even though I didn’t know her I hated her for it.
The thing is, from what I can gather, Taylor fell prey to the same traps.
“She wears short skirts, I wear T-shirts…She wears high heels I wear sneakers”. Same shit, different girl.
Then I had my feminist awakening and realised how much time I’d wasted hating and judging other girls and not appreciating the incredible, beautiful, clever, talented goddesses I was surrounded by. And not that long later, it appears, Taylor had hers, and maybe she discovered the same thing.
And then 1989 happened – an album full of incredibly slick, stupidly catchy, infectiously bubbly pop songs and not a country twang in sight – and my fate was sealed. I fell a little in love with Taylor Swift, with her music, with her perfectly winger eyeliner and adorably bad dancing and impeccable taste in heeled brogues.
Nowadays, Taylor Swift is the the of woman I hope young girls look up to. From what I can gather – as much as one can semi-reliably gather about a celebrity – she seems like a genuinely good person, happy in her own skin with a lot of love to share. She seems like the kind of woman who supports and loves other women, who revels in female friendship, who has learned to love without needing romance, and to be happy and complete in herself. The kind of woman I would want to be friends with. The kind of woman I am, I hope, becoming.
The delicious ironic misandry of the Blank Space video helps too. I can definitely get behind that particular brand of boner-killing.
I’ve learned that life becomes approximately 217% better when you stop caring what other people think and just like the things you like, do the things you want to do and be with the people who make you happy. I’ve discovered my own love of sparkly dresses and bright lipsticks and nail polish, my ability to find beauty and worth and love in every girl I meet, and my shameless adoration of bright, bubbly pop music, and I’ve never been happier.