As you near a milestone birthday, it pulls a lot into focus. Aspects of your life that caused much pain and trauma can seem trivial, or maybe the little things have amplified to another level, as often can happen. To be a woman in the public eye means this self-reflection tends to be frequent and amplified. When you have to deal with hate campaigns on the internet and a daily dose of bashing when it comes to your appearance, does this not increase the tendency to look inwards?
For pop star Taylor Swift, as she prepares to turn thirty, the latter are issues that have plagued her public and undoubtedly, her personal life. When she released Reputation, she herself agreed her own had "never been worse." A very public argument with the Kardashians saw the smear campaign reach new heights; snake emojis were no longer simply referring to the reptile. And so she retreated inwards; we saw less of her publically, she did fewer interviews.
Related: Louise O'Neill: 'My duty far outweighs my discomfort at being called a stupid bitch on the internet'
So, when she appeared on the cover of Elle to open up about thirty things she'd learnt at almost thirty, everyone was eager to hear what she had to say. She talks scars (real and imaginary), stalkers, her mum's cancer diagnosis and why she tries to no longer sweat the small stuff while laughing at those snake emojis.
Below are some of the most interesting quotes from the piece:
Social media increases her anxiety so the comments stay off
"I think it’s healthy for your self-esteem to need less internet praise to appease it, especially when three comments down you could unwittingly see someone telling you that you look like a weasel that got hit by a truck and stitched back together by a drunk taxidermist."
The admits she may have gone OTT on the whole 'girl gang' period
"Never being popular as a kid was always an insecurity for me. In my twenties I found myself surrounded by girls who wanted to be my friend. So I shouted it from the rooftops, posted pictures, and celebrated my newfound acceptance into a sisterhood, without realizing that other people might still feel the way I did when I felt so alone. It’s important to address our long-standing issues before we turn into the living embodiment of them."
"Be like a Snake—Only Bite If Someone Steps On You"
View this post on Instagram
"Grow a backbone, trust your gut, and know when to strike back," is her advice when speaking about trying to be sweet to others all the time.
Violence (and potential stalkers) terrify her
"My fear of violence has continued into my personal life. I carry QuikClot army grade bandage dressing, which is for gunshot or stab wounds. Websites and tabloids have taken it upon themselves to post every home address I've ever had online. You get enough stalkers trying to break into your house and you kind of start prepping for bad things."
She let public opinion dictate her relationships
"Whether it was the general internet consensus of who would be right for me, or what they thought was 'couples goals' based on a picture I posted on Instagram. For an approval seeker like me, it was an important lesson for me to learn to have my OWN value system of what I actually want."
She'll always believe the victim
"Coming forward is an agonizing thing to go through. I believe victims because I know firsthand about the shame and stigma that comes with raising your hand and saying “This happened to me.” It’s something no one would choose for themselves. We speak up because we have to, and out of fear that it could happen to someone else if we don’t."
Her mother is battling cancer for the second time
"Both of my parents have had cancer, and my mom is now fighting her battle with it again. It's taught me that there are real problems and then there's everything else. My mom's cancer is a real problem. I used to be so anxious about daily ups and downs. I give all of my worry, stress, and prayers to real problems now."
View this post on Instagram
Will Taylor Swift finally get a break?
Even as the coverage starts of Swift's reemergence into public life - this writer hopes we won't see the cycle repeat itself.
The time when the unrelenting press coverage began of the girl who was once America's Sweetheart being reduced to having a case of the "Anne Hathaway's" - i.e., the masses hating on her for no reason other than because she's an ambitious, successful woman. And it's a well-documented problem; that success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women. Her success is frequently treated suspicion; the way she always acts surprised to win awards is "fake and annoying," and her unapologetic demeanour means she must be told her place. Whereas the Justin Bieber's and Tiger Woods of the world can always be forgiven.
It looks like Swift is writing her own narrative this time around. And not a moment too soon.
You can read the full thing here.
Main photograph: @Billboard