My relationship with Taylor Swift is complicated. When her first album came out, I was 15 and pretty much a loser. I was in high school, and Taylor, to me, despite what she said in her songs, embodied everything I could never be. She was pretty and popular and rich. Her music seemed immature to me, princesses and romance. It wasn't near to the angsty wannabe rebel I thought of myself. I firmly planted myself in the "I hate Taylor Swift" camp and stayed there well into my 20s.
When Kanye stole her moment at the VMA's, I was disappointed in Kanye, and I felt awful for Taylor, but this started this narrative in my head that Taylor always paints herself as the victim. To be fair, the media paints her that way. It's always "poor Taylor." She looked like she cycled through heartbreaks, which, to be honest, so did I. I listened to "All Too Well" on repeat but never admitted it. I was above that. She just seemed so planned and perfect, and I hated it.
I've even had a review taken down by the one and only Tree Paine herself for how mean it was. That's what y'all are getting into. I'm not proud of that, but, kind of a weird flex, right?
I don't like mainstream music.
I'm rolling my eyes so hard at my past self, thinking this was a key personality trait. I've overcome this in spades, but it's worth mentioning that just because a song is popular doesn't mean it's bad, it means a lot of people like it. Taylor has shown countless times how she breaks the mainstream and shapes the direction of music at large.
She shifts shapes and genres so easily, I became a fan during "Folklore," which I know makes me late in the game, but it made me go back into her catalog to decipher her body of work. Her songwriting really shows through in each era. If you have qualms about the cheesiness of production at times, it still shows her knack for lyricism and storytelling.
She only sings about love.
Oh, kill me, love is a great subject, and the nuances she finds in specific situations are fascinating. The reason people write a lot of songs about love is that it's universal and timeless. Taylor's ability to write detailed perspectives from different people is an incredible skill. And if anything, her storytelling in "Folklore" and "Evermore" has proved this theory wrong so much. She's a masterful lyricist (With the exception of ME!).
She's always the victim.
Okay, but sometimes she is, though? Taylor's strength shows in different ways but after the groping trial and her endless fight to OWN HER OWN MUSIC. There's strength in vulnerability and transparency, and sometimes you actually are the victim. I think Taylor has matured and grown so much that she can own her mistakes and move on.
She has terrible taste in men.
As we know in her song "The Man," that's such a double standard, and I hate myself for ever thinking this. I date a lot, and no one cares about it because I'm not a celebrity, fancy that. Suppose she was a man. She'd be applauded and idolized, and high-fived for this. In the grand scheme of things, Taylor's dating life, while it's always been a topic of fascination and speculation, doesn't make her career. While Taylor's dating life certainly fuels her fans' dissection of her music, it should never take away from our ability to look at Taylor's art from a critical perspective and see the depth in her music beneath the tabloid headlines.
Overall, I'm riding the waves of newfound, late-in-life Swiftdom. So forgive me. Admitting my mistakes is the first step. It took me until "Evermore" and my eternal loneliness in 2020 to take this dive, but I hope, even with my faults, I'll be welcomed into the Swifties with open arms. I think I will, though, because if there's anything Swift has taught me, it's that vulnerability is always welcomed.