With all the Taylor Swift talk that is circulating the web 24/7 Chinwe Oniah took the time and beautifully wrote this piece about her influence.
Is Taylor Swift a Good Role Model?
In 2013, Lorde was quoted saying that Taylor Swift is not a role model for girls.
“Taylor Swift is so flawless, and so unattainable, and I don’t think it’s breeding anything good in young girls. ‘I’m never going to be like Taylor Swift, why can’t I be as pretty as Lorde?’ That’s fucking bullshit,” she said to Metro Magazine.
Beside the fact that Lorde might be eating her words since the two are now besties, the talented (and beautiful I might add) Kiwi had a point. Should young girls really be striving to be the next Taylor Swift? I say “hell no.”
She is not a good role model because she doesn’t take responsibility for her role in her failed romantic relationships and she fills teens’ heads with fairy tale stories about making it in the real world without informing them of the struggle to get there. I also think that she can be petty, perpetuating girl-on-girl hate.
Women make mistakes. That’s how we grow, but Taylor Swift lives a life where she is above mistakes, most notably her love life. Her music has changed from country to pop, but she’s still writing about the same things. She never acknowledges her role in one of her many-dissolved relationships and makes is seem like she is completely blameless.
I don’t think that being a woman is a simple venture. I think that women are more than the sum of their parts. Being a woman doesn’t mean that we should be herded like cattle. Women are humans like men are and come in all shapes, sizes and temperaments. I believe that women are seen as objects that can be controlled and handled and we are not seen as human beings.
When women internalize and perpetuate those thoughts and beliefs, it becomes extremely problematic to the equality of the sexes. There are women in high places who tell women how they should be, what they should wear, and what kind of people they need to be to get ahead in life. Taylor Swift is one of those women.
Look at her failed relationship with John Mayer. She wrote a song about him (as she does with most of her ex’s) entitled “John.” In the song she writes, “Don't you think I was too young to be messed with? The girl in the dress cried the whole way home. I should've known.” She allegedly blames Mayer for playing her, but in the song she admits that she was too young for him. Armed with the fact that she was too young for Mayer, she still decided to date him. She can’t completely put the blame on Mayer for their failed relationship if it was doomed from the start. It takes two to tango. Mayer should have realized that he was too old for her and Swift should have accepted that she was too young for him and not have pursued the relationship.
This would have been a great moment to show women that we are human and that sometimes women make mistakes. Swift is perpetuating this image of the virginal woman to appeal to the male gaze. Even in her videos, she vilifies the ‘other woman’ as being sexually mischievous while she remains the ‘good girl’ who deserves good things because she’s kept her legs closed. To acknowledge that she made a mistake would have been to acknowledge her humanity, her femininity, and give her class. Being classy is contingent on how people handle themselves in the face of adversity. Swift has not handled herself well in the face of adversity. She doesn’t just ‘shake it off.’ She manipulates the situation to put herself on top and buries the carnage so she doesn’t have to acknowledge it.
We’re in a world where we are teaching girls that mistakes make you a failure when in fact mistakes allows you to grow as a person. Why should we offer up Taylor Swift as a role model when she is an unrealistic version of women should be and doesn’t want to face her own reality?
She also seems to have an inflated sense of importance. In her recent move to New York, she claimed to have conquered the city and that she no longer feared it. In her 1989 album the opening single was called “Welcome to New York.” I guessed some government official thought that because of that song, Swift would make a great NYC’s Global Welcome Ambassador.
But what the hell does Taylor Swift know about New York City? Native New Yorkers complain about the rampant gentrification that is happening in their neighborhoods. They are ever confronted by homelessness on their ways to work. They’re complaining about rent. The police. The metro fair increases. New Yorkers complain about things that Swift can easily get herself out of because of her fortune. She can’t possible think she has conquered the city if she hasn’t had any of these experiences. Julianne Escobedo Shepherd said best in her article in Jezebel, “Swift didn't move to one of the most expensive cities in the US to ‘make it’; she moved because she'd already ‘made it.’”
The city has not embraced her like she thinks they have. At least I haven’t. How can she be the ambassador of one of the toughest cities in the country and not have the emotional scars to prove it? It’s a battle living here and she was too scared to suit up for it, yet she wants to give these false hopes and dreams that moving to New York City is going to be peachy keen. Why would I want to look up to someone who is perpetrating a lie?
Then there’s her feud with Katy Perry, which is absolutely petty. She did an interview with Rolling Stone where she hints at a rivalry with another pop star. Through the information that she gave, people were able to put it together that she was talking about Perry. To publically mention your feud with another pop star, I feel, is in bad taste, even if she withheld her name. She should have taken the high road and not have even acknowledged that another pop star was mean to her. She knows what she’s doing when she puts that information out there.
Taylor Swift, you are not an angel and you should stop purporting yourself to be one. We don’t know much about your life and your private life is really none of our business, but what you show is enough to call you out on your BS.