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24th November 2023

A ‘Taylor’-made star – Why Taylor Swift means so much to women and girls everywhere

What makes Taylor Swift such an endearing character in the lives of young women, and why do so many others find her so supercilious?
A ‘Taylor’-made star – Why Taylor Swift means so much to women and girls everywhere
Taylor Swift performing at The Eras Tour Credit: Paolo V@Flickr

If you were openly a Taylor Swift fan 10 years ago, the common response was disdain and an “introduction” to “real” music (also known as the super underground indie band: The Smiths). Fast-foward to 2023. Swift is breaking records left, right, and centre, making her the envy of all modern popstars. However, for many, Taylor is more than just a popstar.

By November 2021, I had just dropped out of my first year of university. I was back at home again, terrified about how fast time was moving and wondering what I was going to do with myself. I had often found comfort in music and movies as they were something to escape into, especially Swift. Taylor Swift was a presence throughout my entire life; some of my most vivid memories are watching her music videos with my sister and listening in the car. I also recently found old ‘music videos’ of Taylor I made myself on Windows Movie Maker, something that if I ran on my current computer, I think would blow it up.

In the same month, Swift released Red (Taylor’s Version), over two hours of burgeoning pop and country music to occupy my mind that was waiting to hear back about interviews for jobs I didn’t even want. Particularly, Swift’s ‘vault’ track Nothing New was particularly devastating as I felt like I didn’t know particularly anything anymore. However, without the album, I don’t think I would have been able to get through those first few months of complete listlessness. Plus, adding Phoebe Bridgers to the mix, the song is essentially a ticking timebomb for all the introspective girls out there.

Flashforward a year to a redo of my first year at Manchester, and Taylor Swift somehow managed to keep me afloat yet again. In 2022, Manchester had a brand new Taylor Swift Society, without which, I wouldn’t have met the friends I have to this day. The popularity of the society is extraordinary, with events selling out within hours, proving how important Swift is to so many people. University is an overwhelming experience for many people: it’s a completely new environment with completely new people and for many, Swift has been a big wrap around hug in hard times.

Dorsa Moezzi, a third year UoM student and Swift Society member, finds Swift to be a great comfort and musical therapist: “Taylor is just very relatable. She’s got a song or ten about any given situation, and her lyrics genuinely give me goosebumps. She comforts me, brings me up but also devastates me. Her music really allows me to feel a full spectrum of emotions.”

Despite Swift’s current position as the biggest pop star in the world, seven years ago if you admitted you were a fan it was almost the same as admitting you were a One Direction fan in 2012: you were a tasteless air-headed fan girl. After the Kanye West controversy, Swift fell off the map completely until her 2017 comeback. As a Swiftie, those were dark times.

Looking back at the hate Swift received in 2016 as a long time Taylor Swift fan is laughable to me now, due to Swift’s current position as a chart topping marvel. Her comeback album, Reputation, put her back on the map as a modern pop princess and she has been climbing ever since.  I look back with true smugness at those who were convinced Swift was going to “fall off” the map, and instead she’s dominating it, literally, with another global tour.

Taylor Swift at the Eras Tour
Credit: Paolo V @Wikimedia

Perhaps Swift’s most instrinsic allure is her penmanship: Swift has been involved in the writing process of all of her songs and has written 62 of them all by herself.  An album that resonates most with fans is her lockdown album Folklore, which (obviously) had Swift divulge in storytelling and the trials and tribulations of girl and womanhood. It became many people’s lockdown solace, and extended her fanbase to even the most doubting critics and Wonderwall-specific guitar players. The last thing people needed in lockdown was a preppy pop album telling us how wonderful life and love is, and Swift delivered with the sombre storybook that is Folklore. 

For me, like Red, Folklore came at just the right time in my life. It was the middle of lockdown and after whipping up coffees and trying my hand at crochet (never again), Folklore became the anthem for the one walk I was allowed a day which helped me not to lose my mind. It may have even been playing at a certain gathering of certain people at a certain Christmas party, but I digress…

It’s hard to find a hate-spewing article about Taylor Swift written in 2023 compared to the influx of attacks she recieved in 2016, due to people finally realising she has never really done anything so hate-worthy. It’s often said people will hate successful women until they realise they can profit off of their success. In 2016, Vice magazine published an article entitled “Taylor Swift Isn’t Like Other Celebrities, She’s Worse”. The article called her a liar with a victim complex. Now? They’ve publish multiple articles praising her success and the power of her music. What does Vice really believe? They believe whatever will get them the most clicks. Again, how can you not be smug?

Swift at the VMA’s 2023 Credit: iHeartRadioCA @Wikimedia

One of the many allures of Swift’s is, sometimes unfortunately, her love life. Media obsession with Swift’s love life is reminiscent of Elizabeth Taylor and other golden age stars, another reason why she is such as irresistible public figure. Swift’s openess about her love life in her music is another thing that people love about her. Despite the flack she receives for ‘attacking’ her ex-boyfriends, fans who go through breakups just like Taylor feel like they’re on the phone with their best friend when she sings about how embarrassing her exes are (you too would makw fun of an ex with your friend if he claimed his shoes were ‘organic’).

Most recently, Swift has been in a very public relationship with Kansas City Chief’s player Travis Kelce. Swift is often seen at Kelce’s games, and the two are photographed holding hands nearly every time they step out onto the street. Betting site BetMGM even tweeted that Kelce performs better on the field with Swift in attendence: ‘Travis Kelce with Taylor Swift in attendance: 108 yards per game. Travis Kelce without Taylor Swift in attendance: 41 yards per game’. Ever since Travis and Taylor went public they have been an inescapable tabloid draw. Fans seem to love Kelce and Swift’s dynamic and went crazy when instead of singing the lyrics from her song Karma as “Karma is the guy on the screen”, she instead sang “Karma is the guy on the Chief’s”.

Plenty of people still say that Taylor Swift fans are insane and obsessed, after they’ve just beaten someone up for not supporting the same football team as them. Being a Swiftie will always be trivial, because for most, you’re a woman with a hobby that isn’t centered on a man, terrifying!

As the UoM Taylor Swift society continues to grow, and Swift herself continues to make jokes out of pathetic haters, I think we can all agree that the ever-burning fire that is Taylor won’t be going out ‘swiftly’. Just like Swift says: ‘ask me why so many fade, but I’m still here?’.

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