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6 things Taylor Swift has taught me about living well

Editor’s Word: That is certainly one of an occasional collection of non-public essays from CNN employees and contributors.


Together with her prolific track writing and curated eras, the world has gotten an intimate look right into a younger girl rising up by Taylor Swift’s music.

Her lyrics, speeches, movies and even a 2020 documentary, “Miss Americana,” have advised the story of a lady looking for her place on the planet by approval and applause rising into a lady who finds a extra sustainable supply of happiness.

And now with the discharge of her newest album, “Midnights,” Swift followers have been invited to glimpse again into the struggles and classes she is investigating in her subsequent section of her life.

I used to be 12 years previous after I began listening to Swift’s music. I cried alongside as Drew didn’t see through her fake smile within the halls of highschool. I twirled through daydreams of young love. I processed along with her the heartbreak of long-gone relationships, discovering where we might or might not have been at fault. I grappled with the fact and fiction behind reputations.

Over the 16 years she has been within the limelight, I’ve been one of many younger ladies who felt like Swift – by her stumbles and victories – was singing proper to her. Over that point, here’s what I’ve realized from Taylor Swift about residing higher.

(A notice to my fellow Swifties: I do know I’ve missed some issues. Don’t blame me – I had an editor-imposed phrase restrict.)

Taylor Swift performs at the 41st Annual Country Music Association Awards, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2007, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Let’s take Swift’s music video for “Anti-hero,” a observe from her newest album “Midnights,” for example, though it’s hardly the primary time she has addressed her insecurities and flaws head on.

“It’s me. Hello. I’m the issue, it’s me,” Swift sings over a scene wherein two variations of herself – which will be imagined because the personal and public variations – meet.

They experience taking pictures till she is sick, run from ghosts of individuals she ghosted, smash guitars as they dance and even meet a 3rd (large) model who highlights her insecurities round being what she calls “a monster on the hill too huge to hang around.”

The play and chaos ends with the three Taylors assembly collectively to share a bottle of wine and mirror because the solar goes down.

There’s a peace discovered when her completely different personas come collectively, and the issues she won’t like about one are complemented by the others. I will be fast to fixate on the elements of myself I don’t like, however for me that scene completely captured the purpose I’m striving for: accepting the numerous sides of myself.

Taylor Swift in her documentary,

“There’s all the time some normal of magnificence you’re not assembly,” Swift mentioned in her “Miss Americana” documentary. “In case you’re skinny sufficient, then you definitely don’t have {that a}** that everyone desires. However when you’ve got sufficient weight on you to have an a**, then your abdomen isn’t flat sufficient.”

Noting that hypocrisy, Swift describes her evolving relationship along with her physique and a historical past of disordered consuming within the movie. Amid a barrage of pictures and physique commentary within the tabloids and on social media, she spoke of a interval when she would train closely and slowly starve herself to fulfill a super.

The video for Anti-hero additionally touches on this as Swift appears down at a scale with no numbers, simply the phrase “fats.” The picture sparked dialog amongst viewers, a few of whom discovered it fatphobic whereas others noticed it as a glance into her intrusive ideas that include a historical past of disordered consuming.

“I’ve realized through the years, it’s not good for me to see photos of myself every single day,” she mentioned. “Now I understand, for those who eat meals, have vitality and get stronger, you are able to do all these reveals and never really feel it.”

“I’m quite a bit happier with who I’m,” Swift mentioned within the documentary. “It’s simply one thing that makes my life higher – the truth that I’m a measurement 6 as an alternative of a measurement 00.”

NSAI Songwriter-Artist of the Decade honoree, Taylor Swift performs onstage during NSAI 2022 Nashville Songwriter Awards at Ryman Auditorium on September 20, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.

When the person she alleged to have assaulted in 2013 her sued her in 2015, she countersued for a dollar (and won). When she had an issue with how streaming companies paid artists, she took off all her music. When she acquired right into a dispute over her music possession, she turned rerecording her work right into a collection of extremely anticipated occasions. When “Taylor Swift is canceled” was trending on Twitter, she turned the experience into an album.

Swift has a historical past of displaying the right way to construct a palace on the rubble from a devastating blow. Sure, she is a really highly effective celeb with much more sources than the typical particular person, however I’ve felt empowered as I watch her arise for herself – and sometimes additionally others who face similar situations with less privilege.

And even with the time that she took out of the general public eye lately to guard her privateness along with her beau Joe Alwyn, she fashions that it’s OK to seek out methods to guard your self and, the place attainable, push again.

Coming into the political dialog is a selection that Swift has painted as a tough one.

She was lengthy silent on her stances, a seemingly-neutral place that garnered a lot reward from public figures. In her documentary, she mentioned that silence was in pursuit of being seen as a “good woman.”

However in her music now, she wonders if she has been too good. Although there have been criticisms that her activism got here too late, we now have gotten a extra empowered Taylor Swift lately – one who backs candidates, promotes LGBTQ organizations and utilizes her platform to increase voter turnout.

Tears had been in her eyes within the documentary footage that reveals her telling her staff she was going to talk out for the primary time. It’s clear her confidence has grown on this enviornment within the time since – the Swift we see right this moment responding to the backlash of her political messaging is one that’s extra complete and comfortable.

Taylor Swift attends Billboard Magazine: Women in Music 2019
Billboard Women in Music.

Her most heart-wrenching songs allude to feeling like an outsider, not realizing who she is going to speak to in school, and falling in need of standard fairytale archetypes.

The happier Taylor, in the meantime, is one who shirks the “ought to.” Her fortunately ever after is hers and hers alone: whereas the general public eagerly awaits a wedding between Swift and Alwyn, she celebrates what she describes as their dedicated however personal love in new track “Lavender Haze.”

“These days, I’ve been focusing much less on doing what they are saying I can’t do and extra on doing regardless of the hell I would like,” she mentioned in her acceptance speech for the Billboard Lady of the Decade award in 2019.

I’m additionally usually reminded to chuckle at your self a bit, as one of many greatest artists on the planet does when she caricaturizes herself chasing off males or dedicates a complete music video to her incapability to bounce. I’ve realized from Swift to not take life too critically and to be the primary to chuckle at my blunders.

It may be harmful to worship celebrities as infallible and restricted to the dimension we see within the public sphere, however I feel we are able to study from her with out portray her as excellent. Many younger folks rising up alongside Taylor Swift have realized a lot as she shares her progress with us.

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