Taylor Swift at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival

Taylor Swift Speaks Out Against Slut-Shaming in Heartfelt Prologue to ‘1989 (Taylor’s Version)’

Taylor Swift’s 1989 (Taylor’s Version) was released on October 27, and it came with a particularly heartfelt prologue. In the prologue, she spoke out about the slut-shaming she had received during her career and the impact it had on her as a female celebrity.

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Swift has been re-releasing all of her former albums that were published under the Big Machine label so that she can reclaim ownership of them. 1989 is the third album she has re-released. However, it’s a particularly special one to her. The album was released in 2014, which she considers the year she was “reinvented for the first time.” Musically, 1989 was her first reinvention as it saw her move away from the label of a country singer and delve into synth-pop. It would start her on the road to further artistic exploration and to diving into new genres and sounds that would help solidify her status as one of the most popular and influential musicians of our time.

Since the release of 1989, her popularity has been growing exponentially. Today, she’s beloved worldwide, as the impact of her Eras tour and Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour can attest to. However, her public perception has not always been so positive. The public and media have always been far too engrossed in her dating life. While everyone can’t get enough of her current relationship with Travis Kelce, one can’t forget that it wasn’t too long ago she was being criticized for moving on too fast after breaking up with long-time boyfriend Joe Alwyn. That barely scratches the surface of all the backlash and shame she has received, though, and now she’s speaking out about it.

Taylor Swift talks reinventing herself after slut-shaming

1989 (Taylor’s Version) arrived with 16 re-recorded original tracks and five bonus “From the Vault” songs, as well as an unexpectedly searing prologue.

In the prologue, she explains the album’s title, 1989, which is the year she was born. Meanwhile, the year of its release marks the year of her reinvention, while the year of its re-release marks the year she reclaimed a piece of herself. She goes on to reveal what led to her musical and personal reinvention—it was the years of slut-shaming she received prior to 2014.

Swift mentions that the slut-shaming before 2014 was relentless and intense, to the point that it would actually be called out today if it were to occur. Considering that slut-shaming is still common today, that sentiment emphasizes the severity of the attacks Swift faced. She faced constant jokes about the number of her boyfriends and had every song scrutinized and labeled as a “predatory act of a boy crazy psychopath.” As a result of the slut-shaming, Swift was forced to change herself and her lifestyle. She reveals that she, who was in her teens or very early 20s at this point, essentially had to give up dating. Not only that, but she had to give up interacting with all men. It didn’t matter how platonic her interactions were—if the media saw her with a man, it would lead to speculation, backlash, and slut-shaming. So she had to swear off men.

This is why she surrounded herself with women and only allowed her female friendships to be seen publicly. However, the media and public still found a way to weaponize this by speculating on her sexuality. It wasn’t until 2014 that she found power in her music and creative exploration, which eventually turned into her recognizing the power she had to reinvent herself and create her own identity. 1989 was an album that expressed her artistic freedom but also came at a time when she finally found freedom from the restrictive life the media’s slut-shaming had forced her to live.

Swift’s prologue captures the severity of the slut-shaming and sheer absurdity that a woman in her 20s was forced to live like a Victorian-Era woman lest she be horrifically attacked by the media. While many were likely aware of the slut-shaming she faced, it’s startling to learn that she literally had a strict moral code forced upon her by society that prevented her from dating or even having male friends.

This hyper-fixation of the media and public on a woman’s dating life is misogynistic, creepy, and invasive. Why is it so hard for society to wrap their heads around the fact that women date? Why is a woman in a consensual, age-appropriate relationship so much more horrifying to the media than all the Hollywood men who date women half their age or have been accused of sexual assault? While Swift managed to rise above the slut-shaming, she shouldn’t have had to. She should’ve been allowed to simply live her life as any typical teen or young adult does. It’s time for the media to start focusing on actual problematic individuals rather than relentlessly attacking young women for the mere act of trying to live and exist as young women.

(featured image: Amy Sussman / Getty Images)


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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.