Embrace Your Reputation

Dear Taylor,

I used to fall asleep to the sounds of your first two albums, nodding off to the soft melodies and your harmonious tone. This led me to delve into the twangy land of country and folk music, which in turn, became a significant part of my identity.

My appreciation of you steadily declined as you ascended and established your new persona and fame; even from the very start you’ve always steered quite close to controversy.

I think that we always have to cautiously toe the line between slut-shaming and genuine criticism because, while most will criticise your relationships and success, I have no right to; I don’t personally know you, and even if I did, it’s your life. But as a successful musician and celebrity, your climb to fame hasn’t been innocent or clean, to say the least.

I truly believe that from the beginning of your career, you have created an image that is damaging and inconsistent – both to yourself and others. People’s lives and reputations have faltered, and although I’m not excusing their bad behaviour, you haven’t acted as innocently as you claim. One of the reasons that I think you’ve been able to act in this way is because of your fans. One of the negatives of celebrity culture is idolatry and role models – literally putting people on a pedestal and thinking that they can do no wrong. Taylor, you have done so many things that deserve negative recognition – blatantly lying about Kanye, the encouragement of your ‘girl gang’ and the hierarchical nature that it embodies – but your fans will overlook these and accept you nonetheless. You’re obviously using this to your advantage: making not-so-subtle jabs at Kanye in your 2015 Grammy acceptance speech and in the entirety of the Reputation album.

I will admit that I haven’t closely listened to the two singles released from Reputation (because I don’t have the energy nor the ‘time’), but the one thing that stands out from your previous albums is the persistent message of: “Who cares and why care – let me be me!” From “Shake It Off” to “Mean”, you’ve positioned yourself as a victim – and I’m not doubting that you have been in these situations – but at times when it has been revealed that maybe your side of the story isn’t all there is to it (cough, Kanye), why haven’t you retracted your words and said sorry?

What I don’t understand is why you won’t accept your faults – is that not how people progress and change? Yes, it’s painful and oh-so-difficult to admit to doing something wrong, but refusing to do so hasn’t done wonders for you, Tay. Yes, you have an ardent army of supporters and lovers, but at the same time, you also have a bunch of suspicious people who are either hurt, confused or dazed by you’re doing.

I mainly blame current pop culture for this, which you’ve manipulated to feel sorry for yourself. We should all care about YOU, why YOU’RE special, and all about YOUR struggles. Yet you often disregard and publicly humiliate anyone who crosses you, using victim blaming and white feminism as safeguards. You may claim to care about the underdog, stand up for all women and respect creative freedom, but your ‘girl gang’ and blatant plagiarism of Beyonce’s “Formation” completely disproves it all. It’s weird in a way, because this is just based on interpretation, but you were clearly inspired by Beyonce for your song “Look What You Made Me Do” – but instead of taking a minute to acknowledge Beyonce and her creative team’s intentions, you and your music video’s director completely disregard it, saying that it’s not at all related to “Formation”. Seriously gurl, we aren’t blind or deaf. We know what you’re doing!

I don’t care if you continue to sing about your personal life and relationships – it’s your life. But you could actually help others going through similar things to you. I just really wish that you didn’t keep dragging others down for your own personal gain and wealth.

You shouldn’t be disregarded for your success and position because you’re a woman – but make no mistake, you shouldn’t be made out to be an inspiration to all women until you make the effort to be seen with faults and to be accessible to others. You need to be treated as a human first because, seriously, no one made you do anything except for yourself.

Annabelle xx