And a Happy Swiftyear! The Swift-Off (Round Two)

As mentioned in Shannon’s postAs S and I embark on the Swiftiest of Swift-Offs, please keep in mind the following… Over the years we have debated Tay Tay to such degrees that we are able to see many sides of this shiny, blonde, leggy enigma. We could deliberate Her Swiftyness for hours, and find certain opinions overlapping. But for the purposes of these posts, we’ve agreed to go full-on Debate Class, with me taking the For argument and S taking the Against. Merry Swiftmas to all, and to all a fair fight!

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The Swift-Off / Round Two: Elizabeth

For the Tay-Nay-Sayers, S got your back during the festive holiday season. Who cares if Swiftmas is a real thing wherein Taylor Swift surprises unsuspecting fans with oodles of holiday treats? S set out all the reasons Tay Tay grates on your Grinchy heartstrings, and I am here to do the opposite. I’m here to kick off 2016 with lots of reasons for loving Taylor Swift, starting with a not-at-all-secret confession:

I’m a fan. Yes, a fan of Taylor Swift’s music, that’s me! To be fair, it only started recently. I couldn’t name a song of hers that happened before Red, and my favorite album is her latest, 1989. The former is just enough pop-country crossover to make an easy fan of me, and the latter is just enough throwback to the music of my youth that I became completely sold. Her sh*t is catchy, y’all. Frankly, if you’ve ever been a teenage/early twenty-something girl, I don’t know how you can listen to this song or this one (or this one) without some real, deep down, Girl, I Feel You feelings.

Which brings me to Point #2: in a world of cookie cutter autotune pop stars who act like little sexy baby divas I can’t help but give props to the woman who has worked her ass off for her fame, and continues to show nothing but gratitude and affection towards her 60 million fans. Sure, maybe it’s an act. But even if it is, it’s a) smart, and b) Really Nice! Think of a musician whose work you admire, whose songs get your toes tapping and your lips synching… If you met that person, would you rather they acted like this:

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Photo via Just Jared

Or like this:

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Photo via @HerNamesJen

Sort of sidebar: yes, I just berated human marshmallow fluff Ariana Grande for her “sexy baby” look, but this does NOT mean that I think Taylor Swift is somehow superior for dressing more conservatively.* The sexy baby thing bugs me (an entirely different blog post), but all-in-all I am a very sex positive person and I support women having agency over our bodies and how we dress and presents ourselves and so on and so forth. Suffice it to say, I’d bet a lot of money (and I have no money) that AG doesn’t curate her own image. 

Back to Tay!

Not only is Taylor Swift a gracious celeb, she is also genuinely talented. Even if you aren’t a fan of her music, it’s still refreshing to see a young woman carve out a career as a singer/songwriter in this day and age. Country was a logical launchpad for her career, as that’s where you’ll find most singer/songwriters these days, but as Red and 1989 prove, she has other music to share, and she crossed over very successfully.

Which means, the girl also has business sense. So she’s talented, nice to her fans, gracious in the face of crazy huge fame, and a savvy entrepreneur. I have to say it folks… It’s no wonder she’s friends with Beyoncé.

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Proof via Pop Sugar

Which brings me to the only point in S’s argument that I cannot debate. While Taylor Swift brings a lot of good into the world, this is in literally no way superior to this. It just… isn’t. Beyoncé wins.

Still, that video (and video awards) blunder aside, there’s a lot to love about Taylor Swift. She’s not only everything I’ve already mentioned, she’s also open to growing and learning from her mistakes, and as a Mega Super Star, that sometimes happens very publicly. Like when Lena Dunham made a feminist out of her, or when Nicki Minaj took her to school on Twitter.

Like all humans, Taylor has her shortcomings, and so in the interest of furthering the debate, I leave you with more Taylor Tidbits to help you decide: Nay Tay or Yay Tay!

Hope everyone had a Merry Swiftmas, and that you’re all looking forward to a bright and shiny Swiftyear!

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*disclaimer: I don’t have one type of look, and I love all sorts of fashion, but if I have a fashion spirit animal, it’s a hybrid of Penélope Cruz and Taylor Swift.

Merry Swiftmas! The Swift-Off (Round 1)

A Note From E: As S and I embark on the Swiftiest of Swift-Offs, please keep in mind the following… Over the years we have debated Tay Tay to such degrees that we are able to see many sides of this shiny, blonde, leggy enigma. We could deliberate Her Swiftyness for hours, and find certain opinions overlapping. But for the purposes of these posts, we’ve agreed to go full-on Debate Class, with me taking the For argument and S taking the Against. Merry Swiftmas to all, and to all a fair fight!

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Dear readers, as you have probably guessed, my dear friend Elizabeth and I agree on a lot of things. Taylor Swift is not one of them. While E is on Team Swift (or Squad Swift, I guess?), I am just not, and it’s high time we hashed this thing out.

As you may or may not know, Ms. Swift was born on a Christmas tree farm (because she’s just that magical), so December seems like the perfect time of year to finally hold our Great Swift Debate. When I started working on this post, I also discovered that Swiftmas is a thing where Taylor Swift buys you presents, and that the word Swiftmas may soon be trademarked. In the spirit of the holidays, Beauty Coup presents our latest two parter: The Swift-Off. AKA The Swiftening. The Twelve Days of Swiftmas. (Realistically, it’ll probably be more like two days.) I’ll have the first word, then E will have her rebuttal in Round 2.

A bit of Swiftstory

Two years ago, right here at Beauty Coup, I pointed out that Taylor Swift hates girls with brown hair, probably because they stole her boyfriend. She didn’t know what Feminism meant, but she DID know that she looked great in virginal white. But that was 2013, baby, and we’re living in a whole new world now. 2015 Taylor Swift doesn’t hate any girls– in fact, she’s best friends with ALL of them. Just look at her having a blast with all of her female friends:

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I’m not threatened by her, or her…
Taylor Swift seems to have it all figured out. Lena Dunham famously explained Feminism to her, and now she is ALL ABOUT IT. Which brings me to my first hang up on all things Swift:

This Shit is Phony and it ain’t Cute

I’m sorry, but I’m not buying it. I chose those words carefully, because Taylor Swift is a savvy business woman with a well crafted brand. She didn’t make $365 million dollars this year by accident. Seems to me like there was a lot of criticism about the negativity towards other women in her earlier work, she saw the writing on the wall, and took it as an opportunity to adjust her brand– right along with her shift away from country music. SMART. Now any time another woman has something to say about her, THAT woman looks like an asshole. Even Amy Poehler and Tina Fey!

Taylor took this performative friendship act with her on the road for her 1989 tour. She may be famous, but she’s so down to earthShe’s such a supporter of women. Just look at how she brings them onstage with her to share the spotlight.  That’s what’s she’s selling– and lots are buying!

Seriously, what is this? Karaoke night in Korea Town? Haha, wouldn't it be so funny if we all went on stage together and sang No Scrubs?
Seriously, what is this? Karaoke night in Korea Town? Haha, wouldn’t it be so funny if we all went on stage together and sang No Scrubs?
Now, you may be wondering how I can really fault her for any of this. This is her job, you know? She’s good at it– and good for her. I’m just saying it’s phony and I don’t think it’s cute, cause it ain’t. Onto her real crimes.

Such as, talking in the middle of your song using words you never say. An incomplete list of words that Taylor Swift would never use in conversation but appear in her songs:

  1. Fella
  2. Hella
  3. This
  4. Sick
  5. Beat

But seriously though:

Beyoncé Really Did Have the Best Video of All Time

I should probably amend my whole jam right now by saying that I’m not against Taylor Swift, The Person. It might not be reading this way so far, but I’m having a hard time writing this because I really do feel conflicted. I will go to the mat for Taylor whenever I hear anyone trivialize her success. I think she has put in the work. She had to go on tour opening for Brad Paisley, the poor thing. Her songwriting, which isn’t to my personal taste, speaks to a lot women (and young women) and that is valuable. My beef is that I think she’s celebrated disproportionately and for the wrong reasons, and the best way to illustrate that is to point out the ways other women are not celebrated.

It turns out that the crux of my Taylor Swift-aversion is that Beyoncé really did have the greatest video of all time. The 2009 VMAS are infamous as the origin of the Kanye West “Imma let you finish…” meme. We all looked on, mouths open, as Kanye strode on stage and interrupted Taylor during her win for Best Female Video, proclaiming he was going to let her finish her “little old me?” act, but first it needed to be said that Beyoncé had the greatest video of all time. The interrupting (and the Kanye-ness of it all) overshadowed his point, but I have to say that Kanye was one hundred percent right on this one. In what universe is this shit better than the Single Ladies video? Honestly. Re-watch this.

Heavy handed, predictable, trope-laden, slut-shaming (!!!), Americana milquetoast bullshit. I can’t decide if I want to PUKE or FALL ASLEEP. Oh, Taylor’s so “ugly” in those glasses. That brown-haired girl is so mean and slutty in her red car. That football boy is so good. But she won for this, you guys! Over Single Ladies. I don’t need to post the Single Ladies music video for you. Why? Because it’s ICONIC! Never mind that Single Ladies is just a better song than You Belong with Me, this was the Video Music Awards. And Taylor’s video is better? You’re going to look me in the eye and tell me it’s BETTER? No, you’re not, and yet, Taylor Swift has SEVEN GRAMMYS. This. Drives. Me. INSANE! NO WONDER KANYE WAS MAD AT THE VMAS.

I AGREE WITH KANYE

So you may be saying, but Shannon, You Belong with Me is her old stuff, from when she was still pretending to be a country singer. According to the person who lives with me, who grew up with two country music stations on his TV, You Belong with Me is marginally better than your average country music video. FINE. She didn’t win Best Country Music Video. Back to my original point: her shit is phony. Boys didn’t like Taylor Swift in high school? YEAH RIGHT, STOP LYING. Her faux-shock face, her “humble” routine, her “I’m awkward, just like you!” shtick is still going on and it’s still ridiculous. Take the Shake it Off video. Taylor Swift can’t dance and I’m supposed to think it’s cute? Why the hell is she dancing, then?

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I took this in Barnes and Noble yesterday. You really need this on vinyl, huh?
Oh, but she’s such a good role model for young women. Why? Because for some reason she reads “Christian”? Nary a cross to be seen, I might point out. It’s because she doesn’t “take her clothes off”. That’s her choice, and I won’t trivialize the importance of that choice. She shouldn’t have to. But valuing a woman for her “purity” is just as negative as casting her as a sex object. It’s the same thing. And if you think what she’s bringing is maturity to the table with those lyrics, you’re wrong. She’s still singing about bad boys breaking her heart and it’s conveniently never her fault. (There’s also one song about being in a fight with another girl). That’s great role modeling?

When Nicki Minaj spoke out earlier this year with a critique on racism in the music industry, Taylor made a mistake by taking it personally and accusing Nicki of tearing down her fellow woman (because Taylor was nominated and Nicki wasn’t). Taylor graciously invited Nicki to come up on stage with her if she won (wow, gee, thanks). Nicki ended up taking the opportunity to educate Taylor by sharing information on the issue. Taylor ended up apologizing and agreeing she had missed the point. Unfortunately, most of the coverage labeled it as a cat fight, belittling what it really was– a real moment between two women. Not a fake ‘get on stage with me’ performance. A real moment of solidarity about a real issue, a woman of color and a white woman illustrating inclusive feminism! That’s a headline! (It wasn’t the headline).

I love this. Honestly, this is what I want to hear from Taylor– about all of it. I wish she would stop the “lucky girl” routine. She isn’t lucky. It’s a combination of working hard, being a gifted story-teller, and happening to be thin, white, and blonde in a culture that values that. I just wish she would acknowledge this. I understand why she doesn’t, though. She is celebrated for being “humble”, read: grateful. A woman should not be too proud, lest she be considered vain and stuck-up. She can’t be sexual, unless it’s in a little innocent package. It makes me crazy. It isn’t her fault that is this way, but couldn’t she use her position to do something about it?

It seems as though things could be moving in that direction. Until that time, I guess I’m with Kanye.

xo
S

Join us, T-Swift!

All right, everyone, it’s Monday. Are we awake? How was our weekend? Did you go see The Bling Ring as you were advised?

Here’s a Monday Morning Tip: If you haven’t already, you should probably go ahead and follow Feminist Taylor Swift on Twitter.

High Heels vs SneakersOh man, was that a sight for my bleary morning eyes today. You see, T-Swift has always rubbed me the wrong way, from the very first moment I saw her way back when she was still an opening act, in a white dress and cowboy boots on a cool evening out in the desert. I wanted to be into her music, of course. Here was a young gal writing her own songs and touring around the country on the legit. That’s great. What’s not so great, as it turns out, are those lyrics, which have been the topic of many a discourse and infographic in the years since T-Swift came on the scene, this being my favorite:

The Complete Works of Taylor Swift

Hey, the girl knows how to use a metaphor. No one is saying she doesn’t. But what’s so great about the Feminist Taylor Swift Twitter is that it so perfectly subverts her lyrics, which are painfully heteronormative at best and anti-woman at worst, into something that young girls should totally hear.

Picture 2 Picture 2 Picture 3See? So good. Listen, I don’t have any hate for T-Swift. She can still turn the beat around. I hope she does, and I’d like to give her the benefit of the doubt because she’s young and working things out through her art, and that’s fine. Her art is problematic, yes. She just happens to be figuring everything out in a public forum…

Picture 1…where she has been widely criticized for having too many boyfriends. What? She can have as many boyfriends as she wants to have! The problem is that she became beloved by a system that liked her message: that she is the good girl with the angelic blonde curls, and the bad girl (always a brunette) stole her boyfriend, probably by being Slutty, as evidenced by the suggestive cut-outs in her (RED) prom dress! Then they were like, “Poor T-Swift! We love you! Boo on that slutty girl, and slutty girls in general. You just keep being Good.”

BlondeBrunetteSYMBOLISM! And those brown-haired girls: so evil, right? Jeez, I guess I’m still super angry about this music video, which I know is ultra old now, in internet years. But, COME ON.

Anyway, Taylor Swift is not a girl in a white dress waiting for a prince to come rescue her on a white horse, even if that’s what her songs say…like, I think those were actual song lyrics right there. She’s a real person, with a love life. But then everyone gets confused, like, “Hey, what happened to the white dress? Are you the cut-out dress girl now?”

When she gets treated like this, you’d hope that she’d be able to come back with some empowered anthem about being a woman who can make her own decisions, but she continues to write songs slamming the other women who men have chosen to date instead of her:

She’s not a saint, and she’s not what you think

She’s an actress, whoa

She’s better known for the things that she does

On the mattress, whoa

and dodging questions about whether or not she identifies as a feminist:

The Daily Beast: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

T-Swift: I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.

Maybe she doesn’t know what feminism is?

Taylor, and I will go ahead and speak for all feminists when I say this: you are safe with us. You can be the cut-out dress girl and the white dress girl, both. Join us. You can bring your Swifties with you. We have cookies. You can wear high heels AND sneakers.

What do you say? Let’s make Feminist Taylor Swift a reality!

Come on, Feminist Kanye is on board with it.

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