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Taylor Swift: The Anti-Hero we all love

Art by Grace Gill

I was a Taylor Swift fan before I even knew I was a Taylor Swift fan. My favorite song when I was a kid was I Knew You Were Trouble, though I had absolutely no clue it was by Swift, herself -- in fact, I actually thought it was by Selena Gomez (I won’t be offended if you all die of secondhand embarrassment right now). Thus, when I realized that this song and many others were masterpieces of Swift’s, I became a die-hard fan. Not only did I learn everything about her -- her birthday, how many cats she has, etcetera -- I also learned about her impeccable fashion taste, her kindness and humility, and amazing personality. I was an absolute fanatic, to say the least, but what I didn’t know was that so many people were right there with me.

Ever since Swift’s first performance of the National Anthem at a basketball game in 2002 at the age of 12, Taylor has had an enormous following and global impact, especially on teen girls. She has a fan base of millions, growing every day, and their strength in numbers has allowed them to create change -- they even lowered the price of eggs in the U.S. However, with incredible highs comes incredible lows, and Taylor has experienced a multitude of both.

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She released her first album entitled Taylor Swift at the age of 16 in 2006, and her musical career took off from there. Swift had concerts, won the CMT Music Award for Best Debut Album, and much more. Although this was merely the beginning of her fame, Taylor’s fan base was growing rapidly. Three years and an album entitled Fearless later, fans began to affectionately call themselves “Swifties,” and the name soon caught on.

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It’s 2009, and Taylor is growing in the ranks of notoriety. She is nominated for a VMA Best Video Award, and . . . she wins! She excitedly, yet humbly walks up the stage to accept her award when she is interrupted by *trigger warning* Kanye West. Swift is in the middle of making her speech when West jumps up on the stage, takes the microphone from Taylor’s hand, and says “I'mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time - of all time!” Kanye hands the mic back to Taylor, flips off the audience, and walks off the stage. Thankfully, he is removed from the show. Despite this upsetting change in her night, Swift keeps her composure and gratitude for earning this award, a characteristic that makes Taylor stand out -- not her awards or money, not how many songs she’s written (though it’s extremely impressive), but the combination of kindness and strength that she possesses. She seems like a genuinely amazing person at heart, but she is also not afraid to show that she won’t bend under the will of others and that she is her own person.

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After this award show, Taylor received a huge influx of support and released three new albums: Speak Now, Red, and 1989 (I strongly recommend Speak Nowtoward if you are looking to get into Taylor). After winning Grammys for each album, Swift was at an all-time high. However, it didn’t last for long, because along came our least favorite person, Kanye West. After releasing the album The Life of Pablo, his song “Famous” blew up, partly due to the fact that one of his lyrics dissed Taylor: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have s** / Why? I made that b**** famous.”

This was one of the first times that Taylor had gotten visibly angry over something; she usually had such a calm and cool composure, but Swift was outraged. She claimed that she never gave West permission to spread such a misogynistic message about her, and although she was aware that there was going to be something about her in the song, she had absolutely no idea that Kanye was going to say “I made that b**** famous”. However, it was later revealed that Taylor did know that Kanye was going to be saying that, and that she was even on a call with him and gave him permission. This revelation started a slew of Taylor hate. There were hundreds of hate pages full of people saying that they were never true fans, that they knew from the start that she was a fake, and much, much more.

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Everyone hated Taylor Swift. She was a phony. She was a horrible person. She should never have gotten any support in the first place. To add on to this, the onslaught of hatred from her former fans led Swift to hide out for a year. Nobody saw her or talked to her, and the fact that she was stepping out of the public eye added to all the trash talk. They were saying that she was hiding from what she had done, she needed to take responsibility for her actions, etc. However, after this year of mauling Taylor, she came back with a new look and an even newer album - Reputation.

She was once again the center of everyone’s attention, but in a good way this time. Her confidence and composure was applauded; she had no hard feelings toward anyone. Taylor was back! She toured the world with this new hit album and she was better than ever. But, like all good things, this moment of fame eventually went away.

In 2016, Marsha Blackburn and Phil Bredeson were both running for Senators of Tennessee, and Swift was strongly against Blackburn. This candidate wanted to reduce the rights of both LGBTQIA+ individuals and women, and for the first time ever, Taylor spoke up about her political views. She strongly endorsed Bredeson and hoped that her prominent following would have her back and be able to sway the polls away from Marsha. However, like many others, Taylor suffered a devastating loss when Blackburn won. This was going to uproot the rights of people in Tennessee, and Swift was completely shocked.

Blackburn was very public about the fact that she wanted to limit LGBTQIA+ rights, so in response to this shocking and horrible news, Taylor released the album Lover. Its hit song, You Need to Calm Down, had an astounding music video featuring the cast of Netflix show Queer Eye, and was proudly supporting the queer community. Though, the best part of this wasn’t her newfound support from fans, nor the money grossed from it, but that she was motivated solely by compassion and generosity.

If I were to write about everything that Taylor has stood up for or taken action upon, this would be a 50-page article. So instead, I’ll just say this: Taylor Swift has battled a lot -- weight and health issues, hate from millions and millions of people, and so much more. Although Taylor Swift has struggled in the public eye, she has maintained a giving and gracious demeanor, and acted as a role model for me and so many others. So thank you, Taylor, for being yourself and giving all of us the courage to do the same.

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