Taylor Swift pre-30

Lainey Posted by Lainey at March 6, 2019 17:46:28 March 6, 2019 17:46:28

Last week, Taylor Swift wrote a piece for ELLE UK about pop music. This week she covers American ELLE, once again in her own words, because like Beyoncé before her, Taylor isn’t doing interviews anymore. The question is – what is this for? The ELLE UK essay came and went with no indication of new music. This American ELLE essay comes with no follow-up about what’s “next” for Taylor, at least not directly. That said, this is Taylor writing in the final year of her 20s, just as she’s about to move into a new decade, not just in age but, perhaps, in career, in professional era. So maybe this is the formalisation of the close of a chapter and the groundwork-setting for what the new era will look like. If you take her messages from both ELLEs together as two parts of a whole, maybe what she’s preparing for is industry leadership (ELLE UK) and this is why and how she’s ready to lead (ELLE USA). Maybe? I mean who knows, really? Her fans were all tweaked up last week in anticipation for something huge and, yeah, sure, Taylor covering ELLE in the UK and the USA is a story but it’s not exactly a major story. What is the strategy here and when will it reveal itself? 

As for this latest column from Taylor, “30 Things I Learned Before Turning 30”, I’m happy to report that she delivers. And she’s always been good on delivering in this respect. Delivering what? The gossip. Gossip in its best form. In its purest form, which we aspire to here, gossip is insightful, reflective, it’s fun, and also…it self-perpetuates. Here’s how Taylor brought it:

Insight – Lesson #18: 
Realizing childhood scars and working on rectifying them. For example, never being popular as a kid was always an insecurity for me. Even as an adult, I still have recurring flashbacks of sitting at lunch tables alone or hiding in a bathroom stall, or trying to make a new friend and being laughed at. 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.
What she’s doing here is talking about her year of squads. She owning up to how she flaunted those friendships, boasted about them, and subtly acknowledging the criticism of it as valid, conceding that it seemed contrived and basically admitting that the intention behind it lacked conviction. 

Reflection – Lesson #20
Learning the difference between lifelong friendships and situationships. Something about “we’re in our young twenties!” hurls people together into groups that can feel like your chosen family. And maybe they will be for the rest of your life. Or maybe they’ll just be your comrades for an important phase, but not forever. It’s sad but sometimes when you grow, you outgrow relationships. You may leave behind friendships along the way, but you’ll always keep the memories.

Related to Lesson #18, Taylor here is telling us that, yeah, maybe some of that speculation about her friendships and whether or not they’re as tight as they used to be, is legit. She makes a great point here about the people who come into our lives at certain times – reasons, seasons, and lifetimes, right? Friendships can also function like romances: they don’t have to last forever. When they end, sometimes it’s ugly, and sometimes it’s just run its course. But this is gossip too…because…well… for the #Kaylor shippers out there who’ve long believed that Taylor and Karlie Kloss are secret lovers, is that what she’s talking about?! 

Fun – Drinks and recipes:
Not every point in the list of 30 is profoundness and deep thoughts. Some of it is just what cocktails she likes – we know about the Old Fashioned because it’s in the song lyrics but there’s more here – and her favourite recipes and what she uses to stick sh-t up on her walls. You know what I like about this? She understands how to create balance in entertainment. She understands how to give people what they want and need in this kind of writing which means she understands exactly the purpose a piece like this should serve: if we wanted a proper dissertation, we’d go to Rebecca Traister. We are reading Taylor Swift because she’s a celebrity and these are the light and fun appetisers that we expect from a celebrity, mixed in with the meat of the larger message.

Gossip – Lesson #27: 
Like I said, all of this, Taylor’s entire column, is gossip but here’s where she’s reliably and comfortingly petty.

I learned that disarming someone’s petty bullying can be as simple as learning to laugh. In my experience, I’ve come to see that bullies want to be feared and taken seriously. A few years ago, someone started an online hate campaign by calling me a snake on the internet. The fact that so many people jumped on board with it led me to feeling lower than I’ve ever felt in my life, but I can’t tell you how hard I had to keep from laughing every time my 63-foot inflatable cobra named Karyn appeared onstage in front of 60,000 screaming fans. It’s the Stadium Tour equivalent of responding to a troll’s hateful Instagram comment with “lol.” It would be nice if we could get an apology from people who bully us, but maybe all I’ll ever get is the satisfaction of knowing I could survive it, and thrive in spite of it.

We all know what this is about. To spell it out: Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. Needless to say, Taylor’s still not owning her own part in that mess. She’s sticking to the “narrative” she’s maintained from the beginning – that she never wanted to be a part of it. One of the biggest popstars in the world is claiming she was bullied by another influential celebrity. I’m not sure she appreciates the power disparity that characterises bullying but, for our purposes, this is a great. This is familiar. This is a reminder, though she may not have meant it to be, that even though she’s ending her 20s having learned a lot and having grown a lot, this part of her, the shady, clapback and gossipy part of her, is still there. And if it’s still there, it will keep going, into the new era. There are some grudges she’s carrying into the next. The gossip will continue.

To read Taylor’s full list of 30 before 30, including more personal details and encouragement her fans would appreciate, click here

Ben Hassett/ ELLE

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