by Hallie Underwood ’20

Perhaps I could begin gazing with admiration at the girl in sapphire fringe, her radiation only a faint light amongst the thousands of bracelets illuminating Nationwide Arena. Maybe it was before then, though, as I stood before a thunderous crowd myself, in the pause before the initial strum of a guitar and the first note to “Blank Space” at the seventh grade talent show.

It could have been those Saturday nights, accompanied by face masks and dancing around my bedroom to “You Belong with Me”, or filling the dismal, suburban streets with the sounds of “Wildest Dreams” as my family and I drive home from dinner. Nonetheless, I cannot help but reflect on the effect that Taylor Swift and her music have had on my life.

My collection of Taylor Swift merchandise clutter my tee shirt drawer. With every new album and every new world tour comes a new era; a new personna. It seems as if she is always belting a new note, beaming a new color, and wearing a new outfit to wear as she struts through Times Square.

Swift’s debut single, “Look What You Made Me Do” is a glimpse into a new identity. Her new album, entitled Reputation, could rationally be described as ‘1989’s goth older sister’, a response to the smitten feelings of first love and innocent heartbreak that her prior filled with emotion, confidence and despicable revenge.

To end m0nths of wily Snapchat stories, snake emojis, an intriguing court case and a monumental dollar bill, Taylor Swift deletes everything on her Instagram and other social media pages and promotes her new music with insufficient clues. Swift fills her platforms with snakes videos and a scaly metaphor that it is her turn to speak up about her own repute.

The music video, when first played through entertainment news pages remarking its unusuality, was simply a series of Taylor’s red lipstick smirks, a life-sized birdcage and a clever ending portraying an abundance of Taylor Swifts arguing with each other about the common controversies surrounding Swift over the years.

Looking further, though, many spectators have noticed some of the scenes in Swift’s music video strikingly parallel the feuds that she has in her own life. For example, there is a scene in which she is laying in a bathtub of jewels, and many speculate that this is a nod towards the Kim Kardashian robbery. The scene in which Taylor steps out of a car in cheetah print and bleach blonde bangs resembles her rival Katy Perry. Needless to say, Swift is not afraid to show everyone she will not be pushed around any longer.

Another fascination of this new era is the cover photo of her new album. Taylor’s ripped up ensemble and tight chain choker may just represent the suffocation that Taylor has felt when trying to separate herself from her false media image, as “Reputation” is written in the same print as the New York Times flag and newsprint covers half of her portrait’s face.

On social media platforms, it seems as if everyone has an opinion about the singer’s new look. Some deem it attention-seeking, but frankly, I disagree.

Swift is simply done putting up with this seven-boyfriends-in-a-year stereotype that has been following her around since the beginning of her career. She is tired of not being able to speak her mind without her words being distorted.

Beginning her music video by erupting from a tombstone reading, “Here Lies Taylor Swift’s Reputation”, it is clear that this album will be the voice of Swift and only Swift. In a zombie-like physiognomy, Taylor returns: the light blue dress previously worn in her last music video “Out of the Woods” now dirt-smudged and tattered. Taylor has been buried by the media for years, abiding by the headlines she knows will be written about her. She is taking control of her life and the rumors spread about her to ensure a brilliant album to come.