It’s undeniable that 2015 was, yet again, Taylor Swift’s year. She’s got a hit album and I’ve counted multiple major songs being played back to back….back to back… and back to back again on the radio. You can’t escape T. Swift even if you try. I am going to preemptively explain to you all that I’m not a huge fan of hers, but I can at least say that, yes, she has some pretty catchy songs that I can even admit to singing along to them in the car. And good for her. She’s been able to stay relevant to her fans and listeners back since she was a country singer and not many teen artists can say that nowadays.
The topic of much discussion is not so much her music, but her love life and the amounting boyfriends she’s acquired over the years…and the few that have stuck around longer than just a few months. There’s a part of me that feels sorry for her simply because her youth is being played out for everyone to see and that’s never easy. I can’t say that I know the feeling of publicly navigating love and having to deal with the many criticizers out there watching and commenting on my every move. I mean, if we can be real for a moment, I don’t think any of us would fare well if our younger dating years were publicly documented on the front of magazine covers at the grocery store. However, the machine that is Taylor Swift has made millions of dollars by flipping the criticism and writing catchy tunes to counter those “haters [who] are gonna hate, hate, hate.”
After giving credit where it is due, I have to say that her take on love and how she is describing it to her fans is something that is a bit troubling for me to hear through her music. I think it’s great that she’s using personal experiences to inspire these songs (at least she writes her own music) but at some point someone has to stop and think about the message she’s sending. Let’s take a look at some of her most played songs from her 1989 album right now:
Shake It Off
Okay, this song is pretty catchy and the first off her album to hit the major radio circuit. I love the message in this song and find it to be empowering to girls who remain true to themselves, despite what others say – especially boys. Exactly what I was looking for from Miss Swift. But, she then negates her message of “shaking it off” with her other songs, which seems to compile into being one big downer about love and how helpless it can be to find it.
Then we are taken to a much darker place. Not so bright and carefree…
So it’s gonna be forever
Or it’s gonna go down in flames
You can tell me when it’s over
If the high worth the pain
Got a long list of ex-lovers
They’ll tell you I’m insane
But I’ve got a blank space, baby
And I’ll write your name
The message that I read from this song is that love is a great feeling but that it can cause some pretty debilitating pain when it doesn’t work out. Go figure. Been there. However, I don’t like the idea that love is projected as something that we must prepare for failure before anything has had the chance to grow. It’s perpetuating the idea that “this is going to suck when you leave me…but I’ll write your name on my blank space anyways.” I feel as though it is devaluing the person you are potentially going to be seeing by having that kind of attitude. And this idea of a blank space that can be filled is also troubling. Ones love and appreciation shouldn’t be something that’s just given away to anyone. And if you’re just going to write anyones name on the love you have, is this person really the one you should be giving it to?
“Boys only want love if it’s torture.”
Don’t even get me started on that…
Love isn’t torture when you’re with the right person and this goes for anyone at any age. If it’s torture for you then you’re not experiencing true love.
This song is clearly about Harry Styles, one of her exes that probably had a profound impact on her. (Don’t they all?!) But, again the message that I’m reading in this song is that even when you know a relationship is toxic, for the both of you, you involve yourself with the same person anyway. It’s almost like I want to shake her and ask her if she’d expect anything to change. This lyric alone tells you everything you need to know about a guy who would say this…
I say, “I heard, oh, that you’ve been out and about with some other girl, some other girl”
He says, “what you’ve heard is true but I can’t stop thinking about you”
And when we go crashing down, we come back every time
‘Cause we never go out of style
Some things need to go out of style and toxic relationships are one of them.
Essentially this whole album describes the initial love and downfall of relationships. Anyone who’s been in one knows the pain of when it doesn’t work out- either for better or worse. Before meeting my husband, I was in a pretty toxic relationship myself and it took me years to realize that the love I thought I had in that person wasn’t love at all. It was manipulation and control. It took me leaving and being open to the right person and not being closed off because of the faults of another. I could have potentially missed out on the wonderful and healthy relationship that I have with my now husband if I had stayed in that state of mind. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that only applies to romantic relationships either – it’s applicable to friendships as well.
Love is something beautiful and it comes in different forms. It evolves over time and can feel different at different seasons of our lives. It takes a woman having to realize the qualities in those frogs and to guard her heart from those pretending to be her prince. It’s more than just writing someones name in a blank space because you have the space to fill. It’s more than returning to the painfully familiar. And most importantly, love is more than just finding love in another…it’s being able to love yourself first. It’s about truly shaking off those who hold you back from being the awesome person you are – both in a relationship and out.
I personally look forward to seeing how Taylor Swift matures over time and I am rooting for her to finally find her equal – something we all deserve in this lifetime.