If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past decade, it’s that you either love Taylor Swift or you hate her. There is no in-between.
I absolutely love her and have been a loyal fan since first hearing “Tim McGraw” in 2007. You know who else I was loyally devoted to in 2007? Britney Spears. If you were around for Britney’s total meltdown, then you know how difficult it was to admit you were a fan during that chapter of her life. I wore my “Save Britney” t-shirt and reminded everyone that going from Justin to K-Fed would cause anyone to lose their mind, duh.
Here we are 10 years later and I’m starting to feel that same public hatred over being a Taylor Swift fan with the upcoming release of Reputation. The Taylor haters are coming out in full force, stunned that I still love this version of Taylor. I will admit that it was hard for me to accept the 1989 album, which signaled her official transition into pop. I knew the Taylor standing humbly on stage clutching her glittery country guitar was gone forever. I mourned and moved on. The 1989 World Tour was probably her best show yet.
What’s funny to me about Taylor haters is they know almost as much information about her as I do. This reminds me that Taylor is still winning, whether you love her or hate her. The complaint I hear most often about Taylor is that she is too “petty.” Well, I would argue that being obsessed with trashing a celebrity is also quite petty. The amount of energy people spend hating her is amusing to me because they’re still paying attention. Taylor’s a strategic genius like that.
Taylor has spent her young adult life building an untouchable empire. Can you imagine pitching yourself to every record label in Nashville at only 14 years old and being rejected by every single one? Taylor’s road to fame has not been handed to her like so many other young stars we see today. She’s clawed her way to the top, doing it her own way, by her own rules. Some consider her a sell out for transitioning to pop, but I think that’s a stretch. I respect the hell out of her for not falling prey to becoming a pawn of the music industry. Her evolution into pop came out of a natural professional desire. She has always had a vision for her career and I’m sure it didn’t involve staying the same forever.
Reputation is not Taylor Swift selling her soul to the music industry or having a public meltdown. This is the Taylor I personally have been waiting a decade to see. This is the Taylor that is done trying to defend herself. This Taylor is here to show us that she doesn’t care what we think. This is the Taylor that is over trying to defend any particular version of herself that we’ve come to expect from her. This is the Taylor that has been chewed up and spit out but is still standing strong.
Why does everyone expect Taylor Swift to stay the same? Most people evolve during their 20s more than any other decade of their lives. We change our minds often. We go through horrendous breakups. We have friendships fall apart. Some of us even make big mistakes that may affect our lives forever. It’s a normal part of growing up. Taylor’s profession puts her under a public microscope, but I think she’s handling it pretty damn well. I know I wouldn’t be able to weather my private life in such a public spotlight. Why do we hold Taylor Swift to such a standard?
I hope this album reveals the Taylor she’s been trying to conceal. I hope she tells us how she feels about everything. I hope she calls out everyone who needs to be called out. We should all stop acting like we wouldn’t secretly enjoy seeing someone who’s wronged us getting a dose of their own karma. It’s human nature and superstars are not immune to these very human feelings. If you don’t care about Taylor Swift, leave her alone. The rest of us can’t wait to see what she does next.