What Taylor Swift Isn’t Teaching Us About Love

1.27.2015


It’s undeniable that 2015 will, yet again, be Taylor Swift’s year. She’s got a hit album and I’ve counted 3 major songs being played back to back....back to back... and back to back again. You can’t escape T. Swift even if you try. Now, 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 on my commute to work....and again coming home. (Cause, you know, she isn’t going away just yet.) 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 ‘child artists’ can say that nowadays.



The topic of much discussion is 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 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
Ok, this song is pretty catchy and the first off her album. I love the message in this song and find it to be empowering to girls who remain true to themselves, despite what others say. Exactly what I was looking for from Miss Swift. But then she negates her message of “shaking it off” with her other songs, which seems to compile into being one big downer about love.


Then we are taken to a much darker place. Not so light and carefree...

Blank Space
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 Blank Space 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 the idea that “this is going to suck when you leave me...but I’ll write your name on my blank space.” 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 in true love.


Style
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 people 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 bad 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 what I figured love was, was in fact nothing like it at all. It took me being open to the right person and not being closed off because of the faults of another.

Love is something beautiful and it comes in different forms. It takes a woman having to realize the qualities in those frogs to stay away from 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. Yeah, I know that last one was a bit cheesy but nonetheless true.

Those are just my two cents. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

11 comments:

  1. Man her songs are catchy and I loved the shake it off video... right up until the twerking started. :( I totally thought it turned something fun into something inappropriate.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Totally agree! While yes, I do sing her songs when they are played repeatedly on my ride home from school, I can't help but think that this is not the music I would want my own daughters listening to. Love seems so common in her songs when for me it is something that truly develops over time. I'm glad someone else feels this way! Even if we can't help but belt out the latest hit when it comes on.
    Thanks for sharing and God bless!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I totally and completely agree!! When I was her age I had my fair share of toxic relationships and might-have-beens but I always tried to be aware // learn // hope for real love. I found it - in the guy I had a crush on in high school and our timing was off. I needed to learn those lessons while he was learning his, but it doesn't mean my relationships were right or that I made the right decisions. Where's the song about that? lol

    ReplyDelete
  4. I’m glad I’m not the only one with these opinions...and if I am please call me out! I just get tired of hearing her songs about how tortured love is for her. My belief is that she just falls in love too quickly and that’s why these relationships (I’m sure among other things) don’t work out. I just don’t like this “on to the next one” mentality.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Gotta give it to her for channeling her creativity through music though :) Although I agree with most of your assessment. It would be interesting to see what she writes when she finally encounters deep and lasting love (aka love found in the Lord!)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I share your feelings about Taylor exactly. As another commenter says, it will be interesting to see what her songs become when/if she is in a great, long term relationship. I personally just wonder why she rarely ventures away from writing songs about her relationships. It just gets really boring after a while. Like you show in your post, she doesn't understand love at all.

    ReplyDelete
  7. THANK YOU FOR THIS POST! It is so rare to find another woman who agrees and share the same opinion on Taylor Swift as I do. This is refreshing for me, haha. Everyone thinks she's perfection and a great role model for girls...well, definitely not when it comes to her music. Sure some girls can relate, but what she's teaching about men is absolutely wrong. I'll go up to bat for that any day. Love that you wrote this. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Haha if anything I’m happy I’m not the only one who has this opinion about her. I enjoy some of her music (at least when it’s not played over and over again). I just think that songs should be more than just a catchy tune; it should have substance. And I just don’t agree with the message of a lot of her songs....yeah, breakups are hard but we shouldn’t dwell on them or make them song fodder. Thanks for reading! :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Jenny! :) Exactly! Life is full of other empowering inspirations and although love, very powerful in itself, makes for a good song, it’s something that she has done her entire career. I’m just tired of the same song regurgitated over and over. I just don’t like how the media is obsessed with her when, in my opinion, she’s spreading the wrong message.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Agreed 100%. She only mentions her faith in one lyric of Style (barely) and that is in reference to what, one could only imagine as Harry Styles', attraction to her “good girl faith and a tight little skirt.” I do give her credit for channeling her creativity this way it’s just tiresome to see that she’s shifting her image but still writing music about high school love. I wish her the very best, I do, and I, along with you, will be waiting to see how she matures in her music.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Isn’t that funny? We’ll sing to ourselves in the car but don’t agree with her message to young girls? Haha. I’m guilty of that too. I can’t deny her creativity and talent as a performer. However, the Taylor we were introduced to should have grown up a bit by now and her music should reflect that. I agree that love is something that develops over time and one should learn from past relationships. I feel as though she hasn’t learned much but I also understand she’s still young and still finding herself.

    ReplyDelete