Taylor Swift has made one mistake that is threatening her career, but there may be a solution. The last year has seen an exponential skyrocketing of her already celebrated career and she has officially become a bonafide pop star with the biggest sold out tours in the history of the music industry surpassing over a billion dollars. Her music has topped the charts and won her 14 Grammys, Harvard is now offering an entire class about her, she was Time’s Person of the Year in 2023 and she now has usurped the NFL--women have made Taylor Swift their entire personality and her new album drop is a top story. But not all of America loves her.
Today, Taylor Swift is one of the most controversial figures in pop culture, as her influence and relationship with Travis Kelce has come under a microscope as she's grown in influence. Her cult-like following has glorified her to a Goddess level and her every action is scrutinized, assessed, and discussed.
Here we're diving into the one big problem that could jeopardize Taylor’s career and how she might broaden to an even bigger influence.
From humble beginnings at Big Machine Records to a sold out billion dollar world tour, Taylor Swift’s ascension to fame is the kind dreams are made of. Like most middle school girls in the 2010s, my junior high years were filled with trying to learn to play “Teardrops on my Guitar” and master Taylor's airbrushed makeup with perfect curls. Over time, her style, both in fashion and music, changed along with the trends of the day… and after she hit it big with her Fearless album, she later solidified her place in country, pop, alternative-pop and indie halls of fame. After a music licensing-ownership PR disaster with her former manager Scooter Braun, she began re-recording all of her old music, dubbing them “Taylors Version” and became a voice for artists wanting control over their art. She’s had great influence in society in this way… but unfortunately something is a bit backwards with her approach.
Taylor is the symptom of our society, not the other way around. Ironically, she's not actually inspiring young women to strive for new heights of femininity, or really setting the example. Instead she is reflecting the current cultural societal norms... And people are drawn to that because she reflects themselves and it feels comforting that someone can put our youthful longings into extremely beautiful poetry.
If you look back at Taylors style alone, it's always been in direct tandem with the trends. First, the boho-chic style of country music in the early 2000’s, then the vintage trends of the 2010’s, the hipster look of the 2013s, followed by the Tumbler Girl of the 2015's (remember the flower crowns?), her Reputation Era dark look in the wake of the Kanye West feud, and then the Cottage-core and 70s comeback styled like Gen Z more recently…
Taylor was and is a style influencer riding the trends and still seemingly authentic like a best friend who wouldn’t be afraid to talk about cats with you. However, all of her styles have narratives on their own… and she continues to change her styles (excuse me, her “ERAs” ) because she must stay relevant. That is the business she is in. YET, despite the constant rebranding and style changes, Taylor still writes in the voice of our teenage selves, our inner teen, pining for our first love wondering what it would ever feel like to be kissed.
But Taylor is 34 years old and still proclaiming this same, teenage message…
Now please know I'm not criticizing her for being in her 30s and not married with children yet… that isn’t a sin and every woman is on a different path to finding Mr. Right and starting a family. But Taylor Swift as an icon for women to NOT WANT these things or at least be INTERESTED in marriage and motherhood-- that is the problem.
TAYLOR AND FEMINISM:
In fact, Taylor seems to have a chip on her shoulder about being a woman altogether, rather than being proud to be one. She has constantly talked about how she is treated compared to men, saying things like, “A man writing about his feelings from a vulnerable place is brave; a woman writing about her feelings from a vulnerable place is oversharing or whining.” Perhaps there are some women who legitimately get overseen or discriminated against… but Taylor isn’t the first female multi award winning artist to write about love.
The greats like Celine Dion, or even Beyonce, have never made criticisms like this. Long before Taylor Swift's time, women wrote love songs. It's an age-old tradition. Taylor is responding to these critiques by pointing fingers because the stereotypical Taylor Swift song is well written but shallow. It seems Taylor is aware of this and overcompensates by virtue signaling and pointing to a cultural conversation around "feminism".
Taylor’s response to these challenges is to feel like she has to prove herself against men, rather than be proud of being a woman.
In fact, the way that Taylor sees herself as a woman is a problem in itself. She is quoted to have said that feminism is just another word for “equality” but therein lies the problem. No one should debate that women aren’t equal to men in value, but by defining feminism as "equality" we lose the uniqueness of our femininity. Equality means we are giving up the very thing that makes us unique from men because in an individualistic world culture wants to lump us all together, ironically. Women are not exchangeably equal to men. Saying so is, well, counter-feminism.
WHAT TAYLOR IS MISSING:
What Taylor fails to see and fails to set the example with is the uniqueness of womanhood, specifically in our role as being "beautifiers". Classically feminine women never gripe continually about being “the man” or trying to shoehorn in womanhood to be like all the other men at the office.
Classically feminine women recognize that we don’t want to be enslaved to anyone. Women like Taylor mock women who work at home for their husbands but cheer them on when they step out to be contractually working for another man, a man who doesn’t love her or care at all about her needs, only the glorified bottom dollar.
This idea that “Equality” equals “Feminism” is old and outdated. We’ve moved past that. Women today KNOW that women are just as valuable as men, they have their OWN unique contributing skills and talents and aren’t interchangeable to men.
So in a sense, Taylor isn’t saying anything thought provoking or new to the women who desperately look up to her, only cliches about following your dreams and women doing things that men can do… and that's old. Taylor is truly one of the most talented artists and songwriters of the 21st century, there is no doubt that. But highly acclaimed entertainers don't have to be a major societal and political influence, that seems to be something new expected of celebrities in recent years, singers historically haven't always displayed a lot about their political views but instead stuck to their talents and let the world speculate. But Taylor isn’t at all like this.
TAYLOR'S INFLUENCE POLITICALLY:
Taylor has made it extremely clear that she is a Democrat and she hasn’t hid that. So much so, in fact, that she has MAGA voters insistent that she is a plant by the Biden Administration and a psyop to get the young vote. Claims have been made that Taylor could change the course of the entire 2024 election by simply endorsing Joe Biden, which she did back in 2020 and is still outspoken about her hatred for Donald Trump.
Believing that young women would vote for someone just because their favorite singer told them to is just another reflection of Taylor as the symptom of our culture– not the example. Taylor has a great opportunity on her hands to help return culture to a celebration of true classical femininity. If Taylor can understand the classically elegant approach to femininity and encourage women to build a meaningful legacy with someone, passing that on to children, pouring into another human being, Taylor could influence the world like never before.
Just a few weeks ago the Quiet Luxury queen Sofia Richie Grainge announced she was pregnant at 25– just a year into marriage. She is making marriage and motherhood fun, inspiring and desirable again and women my age are taking notes. There is already the beginnings of a baby boom unfolding with young married couples in their early twenties desiring to start and establish a legacy family that they may not have had growing up and Sofia is only just the beginning of this trend. If Taylor were to follow in Sophia's footsteps and get married, have a baby and inspire others to do the same, there would be a return to celebrating motherhood and family like never before.
But like I say often, women shouldn’t do things just because they are trending or Taylor Swift is doing it. We must go deeper and recognize the values displayed in the return to tradition, rather than the aesthetics. Taylor has an entire market she can tap into and clearly the world is already so invested in her life and love story.
If Taylor doesn’t begin to recognize the values of classical femininity, her career may become stale, aged-out like Madonna, or overdone. There are only so many times you can introduce a new style. Or Have ANOTHER Era.
It's time for Taylor's new era… her classically feminine era… where she values leaving a legacy of truth, goodness and beauty, where she pours her energy into raising a new generation, one where she celebrates the bedrock of society, the family, and sets a new kind of mature example for women as a cultural beautifier… truly trailblazing the way back to a culture of celebrating REAL femininity.
Taylor Swift has extreme influence, the likes of which we rarely see with celebrities, but she is walking a very fine line in her portrayal of womanhood for a very eager and entranced audience ready to replicate her every move. The message Taylor is sending to her fans isn’t sustainable or ultimately helpful to their growth. Her influence spans all the way from 5 year olds to 45 year olds because she still writes like she is 18, and it is time for this to change.
She has a strong opportunity to call young women higher to a place of influence in their families and communities… but so far she's squandered it. If Taylor wants to endure for generations to come, beyond her music playing in the speakers of an airport, she is going to have to make a change that embraces classical femininity and establishes herself as more than a songwriter of youthful tunes. She needs to call her audience to celebrate and embrace their unique callings as a woman and set the example for generations to come.