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Notes From a Skeptical Swiftie: Many, like me, who love the art do not embrace full fandom, To be a woman is to be compared: to one another, to a younger version of oneself, to a version of oneself who doesn’t exist

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Notes From a Skeptical Swiftie: Many, like me, who love the art do not embrace full fandom, To be a woman is to be compared: to one another, to a younger version of oneself, to a version of oneself who doesn’t exist

 

I have a vivid memory of sitting in a friend’s bedroom, a group of five or six girls singing along to “You Belong With Me.” We were sophomores in high school, a year of mixing Sweet 16 parties and school dances with whatever alcohol we could steal from our parents’ liquor cabinets.

 

Notes From a Skeptical Swiftie: Many, like me, who love the art do not embrace full fandom, To be a woman is to be compared: to one another, to a younger version of oneself, to a version of oneself who doesn’t exist

I felt out of place in that bedroom. Taylor Swift wrote lyrics that didn’t speak to my experience growing up in the far reaches of Philadelphia. Their small-town—and at times small-minded—themes turned me off in a way I couldn’t articulate as someone who spent weekends drinking in the woods and lusting after boys with lip rings and swooped hair instead of football players with shoulder pads and prom king crowns.

But I wanted to be different. I listened to pop punk and tried to flirt with boys using my music knowledge. It was the original pick-me girl playbook, but the boys never did pick me. There was always someone effortlessly cooler or prettier. I may have been the core demographic for Swift’s lyrics, but for a long time they sat squarely at the other end of the “not like other girls” spectrum, which is, I think, what made me avoid her for so long. In 2012, when I was 19 years old, I simply tweeted “Taylor Swift sucks”— a sentiment I held on to for at least another few years.

But when I was a senior in college, I finally caved. 1989 soundtracked my first-semester final exams, and it was on repeat for weeks after that. It was a few months after the album had been released, but only a week or so since Swift had taken the stage at the 2014 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

Sitting on the scratchy blue living room couches found in student housing across the country, my roommates and I watched models strut their impossible bodies up and down the runway. Seeing the show was a masochistic act for any young woman who had grown up in the tabloid era.

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