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Anne T. Donahue

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Stop Hating on My Girl Taylor Swift

Posted: 11/22/2012 12:37 pm

With recent assumptions that Jake Gyllenhaal gave T-Swift a complex, we can expect more Taylor Swift gossip. Or more specifically, we can expect more Taylor Swift jokes.

Which is fine. We all love a good "what Taylor Swift's songs are about" tweet, but let's not assume she's not in on them. Swift knows her shtick -- she sings about boys, and about relationships with boys, so let's take a break from our cynicism and acknowledge her volumes of self-awareness.

It takes courage to own up to your act. No, we may not agree with everything she does (case in point: the Madonna/whore juxtaposition of the "You Belong With Me" video, or "Speak Now"'s girl versus girl mentality), but for a 22-year-old to live life in the very public eye and stand up for herself while she figures things out? That's just straight-up brave.

Few of us have our shit together now, let alone in our early 20s. And few of us would have the guts to confront our exes, let alone our famous ones, in songs performed in front of full stadiums. No, it might not be how you or I would handle things, but it's the way Taylor Swift does. And at no point has she ever tried to pretend to be someone she's not.

She's also inclusive. True, her target audience is the teen girl demographic, but at no point does she alienate anyone, or make them feel like her music's not for them. In fact, on the song "22," the only people she lashes out at are hipsters -- and more specifically, the "hip" people who dismiss her music because they're pompous and arrogant. Even 2011's "Mean," isn't about putting anybody down, it's about Taylor rising up and prevailing over bullying. (An awesome message to send to anyone who's ever been bullied, regardless of age, I don't care who you are.)

Ultimately, there's a reason Taylor Swift is popular. Her songs are catchy, they're earnest, and they also articulate feelings most teenage girls can relate to. If you can't relate to her as an adult, that's fine -- you're not part of her target audience. And if you think that Taylor's songs will make girls believe that boys are the only relevant subject matter, then you're not giving enough credit to those girls' parents, or to the girls themselves.

Let's stop underestimating Taylor Swift and her fan base. In terms of her subject matter, most artists sing about love -- even ones who've dated famous people. In time, who knows where her career trajectory will take her? She's 22, and has already mastered her brand to the point of hawking perfume, accessories, and other miscellaneous merchandise that could take up 500 words in themselves. When the Olsen Twins did the same, they were hailed as tycoons; when Taylor Swift does it, we roll our eyes. Why? Because she dated celebrities?

You don't have to like her music. You don't have to stop analyzing. But what I think we can all stop doing is passing judgment on a woman who works very hard, and succeeds accordingly. Or at the very least, respect that at 22 years old, Taylor is a record-breaking artist who has the confidence to be herself.

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    FILE - This Nov. 22, 2011 file photo shows singer Taylor Swift performing at Madison Square Garden in New York. Swift's single, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," is the top song for the week ending in Aug. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, file)

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    FILE - This May 20, 2012 file photo shows singer Taylor Swift at the 2012 Billboard Awards at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nev. Swift joined several members of the Kennedy clan, including boyfriend Conor Kennedy, in a somber weekend visit to the grave of his mother on Cape Cod. Swift and Kennedy held hands and at one point appeared to bow their heads in prayer, as did his siblings, while visiting the resting place of Mary Richardson Kennedy on Sunday, Aug. 19. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP, file)

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    FILE - In this March 2, 2012 file photo, Taylor Swift performs on stage at the Burswood Dome during the opening night of her "Speak Now" Australian tour in Perth, Australia. Multi-platinum selling superstar Taylor Swift is releasing her fourth studio album called

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    FILE - In this Aug. 7, 2011 file photo, singer Taylor Swift arrives at the Teen Choice Awards in Universal City, Calif. Swift wears a white halter-style dress just like Marilyn Monroe's dress in "The Seven Year Itch." Monroe passed away a half-century ago this week, a murky death that remains one of Hollywood's most tantalizing mysteries. But look around: Her legend lives on, more vibrantly than ever. In a twist she surely would have appreciated, this 1950's bombshell has become a 21st-century pop culture phenom. (AP Photo/Dan Steinberg, File)

  • Taylor Swift

    Taylor Swift arrives at the Teen Choice Awards on Sunday, July 22, 2012, in Universal City, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

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    Grammy award winning artist Taylor Swift performs during the Walmart Stores Inc. shareholders' meeting in Fayetteville, Ark., Friday, June 1, 2012. (AP Photo/April L. Brown)

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    In this Nov. 20, 2012 photo, Taylor Swift arrives at the 39th Annual American Music Awards in Los Angeles. Swift is donating $4 million to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to fund the 7,500 square foot-plus Taylor Swift Education Center in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

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    Taylor Swift poses backstage with the award for entertainer of the year at the 47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday, April 1, 2012 in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

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    First lady Michelle Obama, right, presents the big help award to Taylor Swift onstage at Nickelodeon's 25th Annual Kids' Choice Awards on Saturday, March 31, 2012 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

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    In this film image released by Universal Pictures, Taylor Swift voices the character Audrey for "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax." (AP Photo/Universal Pictures, Sam Urdank)

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    Singer and actress Taylor Swift arrives at the premiere of the animated feature film "The Lorax" in Universal City, Calif. on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Dan Steinberg)

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    Taylor Swift poses backstage with the awards for best country song and best country solo performance for "Mean" at the 54th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Taylor Swift

    Taylor Swift performs onstage during the 54th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

 

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