Taylor Swift and The “Good Girl” Syndrome

On January 23rd, the Netflix documentary, “Miss Americana” debuted, showing us a glimpse of the complicated sides of being America’s sweetheart, Taylor Swift. Critically acclaimed director, Lana Wilson, is able to shed light on America’s biggest reigning pop star as a human, not just a name.

 

The past decade and a half saw Swift break numerous records and build an empire so large and influential it has been described, quite literally, as the music industry itself. #Swiftie or not, her music infiltrated your life in some way.

Taylor Swift on the cover of British Vogue |image via Vogue

However, in the last few years the singer songwriter went from being adored, to seen as fake, unrelatable, and a public nuisance. The infamous Kanye phone call as the tipping point, #TaylorSwiftisOverParty was trending everywhere, and mass public shaming ensued. 

 

Swift disappeared from the public eye. In this time, she wrote and recorded Reputation, she found someone to share her success, and had to rebuild her entire sense of self worth, outside of external validation.

 

Society puts extreme pressure on women to appear young, flawless, and likable. This cultural baggage points to a manifested misogyny that requires women to stay in line.

 

“My entire moral code, as a kid and now, is a need to be thought of as good,” stated Swift in the documentary.

 

While it is part of the human experience to want to feel loved and needed, these feelings are magnified in certain industries like entertainment and fashion. 

 

Swift hugging mother, Andrea Swift, in documentary ‘Miss Americana’

 

All her life, Swift says she was told, “A nice girl doesn’t force their opinions on people. A nice girl smiles and waves and says thank you. A nice girl doesn’t make people feel uncomfortable with her views.”

 

With social media, it has become easier than ever to scrutinize and compare ourselves to one another. The amount of Likes on a post have become about how many people like you rather than like the contents of your picture- and the spread of news waits for no one. Good or bad, the public gets to decide with no regard for human feeling.

 

Swift also delved into her struggle with an eating disorder. “I’ve learned over the years… it’s not good for me to see pictures of myself every day… Whether it’s a picture of me where I feel like I looked like my tummy was too big, or someone said that I looked pregnant or something, and that’ll just triggered me to just starve a little bit, just stop eating.”

 

After her legal battle with David Mueller, the DJ who groped her and then sued her for  millions of dollars after he was fired, Swift seemed to have found her voice. She, iconically, counter-sued for $1, which was a win for her and every woman ever. Fighting on behalf of all women in this battle, and finally expressing her political views during the midterm elections for civil rights. Now an avid public supporter for gay pride and feminism, “Miss Americana” allowed watchers to follow her journey to owning her life.

 

Court room sketch of trial | Image via EW

 

No one should have to feel like they need to live up to a standard where they feel the need to stifle their opinions and starve to be likable. 

 

Taylor Swift at 2019 VMAs

 

“I’m trying to be as educated as possible on how to respect people, on how to deprogram the misogyny in my own brain. Toss it out, reject it, and resist it. Like, there is no such thing as a slut. There is no such thing as a bitch. There is no such thing as someone who is bossy, there’s just a boss… Sorry that was a real soapbox. Why did I say sorry… Like, sorry! Was I loud in my own house that I bought with the songs that I wrote about my own life?”

 

It’s time we all learned how to not be sorry and own our unique imperfections “like a good girl”. Who hasn’t felt like they weren’t good enough, apologized for things that you weren’t sorry for, or tried to change themselves to fit what they think that others want them to be? 

 

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