Ode To Taylor Swift - Why My Role Models Are So Young

Source: etonline.com
I have a confession to make. I love Taylor Swift.

For the people that know me well, this comes as no surprise. She appears on the background of my phone, '1989' has a permanent place in my car CD player, and my RED tour concert ticket has a firm central position on my pinboard. If it was socially acceptable for me to still have posters up on my wall, they would all be of Tay Tay. She writes all her own music, which is a rarity in this day and age. She owns seven Grammys, and  still spends most of her days off strolling on a beach or baking cupcakes with her cats. She's beautiful and she’s a nerd, in the best possible way. And I am in awe of her. 
There's just one thing. I'm not 12. 

Not that it's that big of a deal (though I did feel slightly awkward to be the oldest one at the O2 screaming “I'M FEELING 22!!” at the top of my lungs) – Lucy Hale, Nina Dobrev and Blake Lively, all women I adore, have relatively young fans due to the audiences of their TV shows. However, there’s no denying that the majority of Taylor enthusiasts are still in high school; the catchy tunes paired with quirky music videos featuring heartbreak, cute boys and cheerleaders all attract the younger generation. And yet, something about her whimsical, charismatic disposition appeals to me. Is it strange to revere and adore a celebrity who is just 8 months older than me?

The reality is, many women my age shun Taylor as a role model because of her so called 'unattainability'. Lorde once branded her "too perfect to be a role model" (she later settled this claim). Admittedly, yes - Taylor is tall, slim and incredibly beautiful - her looks cannot be helped. However, if we look past her physical appearance we’ll see that rather than focusing her effort into ‘flawlessness’, she uses her imperfections to connect to her audience, which is something both bold and admirable. Not every popstar likes to admit they were taunted in high school, or got ignored by a boy they liked, or had terrible dress sense – her relatability, rather than her looks, is what drove her to success. That, and the glittery red microphone, of course.

Source: music-mix.ew.com
Back when I was a kid, I didn’t feel the need for a role model. I had the Spice Girls, who strutted around in miniskirts and platform boots shouting about “girl power”, but it didn't occur to my 8 year old self that they were the epitome of 90’s feminism.
There was Britney Spears who I adored but felt distanced from because of her classic American girl-next-door façade that I, as a British/Polish kid with glasses and tangled hair could not relate to. Christina Aguilera, who came a little later into my life, I quickly dismissed as a role model due to her rapid transformation from innocent teen into a half-naked, sweaty harlot (I adore her now). I sang their songs, imitated the dance moves, but they were just music, nothing more. Now, as a 24 year old, I am well aware I should have it all figured out, riding the wave that we call life and taking each adventure as it comes. And yet, as a 24 year old I feel the need for a solid role model. And Taylor fits the bill perfectly.  

People brand her a bimbo who constantly churns out songs about her failed relationships. The media calls her out on every lyric, hoping that the next song will be somehow related to her 3 dates with Harry Styles. “There’s more to life than boyfriends!” they say. In an industry saturated with explicit lyrics, nudity and drugs, Taylor is a breath of fresh air – sure, her songs may be cheesy, sugar-coated and full of clichés, but she’s incredibly self-aware and most of all, able to take the utter piss out of herself (and for the record, the poor girl’s had 5 relationships in 8 years, so cut her some slack). You never see her spilling out of a cab completely shit faced or sniffing coke on the back of a toilet seat. She’s conscious of her position, yet hasn't abused or allowed it to change her – she’s still seen dancing dorkily at awards shows despite being one of the most accomplished stars in the audience.

Source: buzzfeed.com

Young girls need successful women to look up to, to get inspired by. Taylor is certainly successful, and not because she shook her ass on stage at the AMA’s or released a controversial music video. At the age of 14, she signed her first contract in Nashville, becoming the youngest songwriter ever to be signed to Sony. In 2009, she won four Grammy awards, becoming the youngest ever Album of the Year winner. She relies on her songs for the attention, and has managed enourmous success without the appearance of a single bum cheek.

And she’s not afraid to admit when she’s wrong. In the past, Taylor was labelled “anti-feminist”, after supposedly rejecting the term when asked if she identified with it. After several hard hits from the media, Taylor had the courage to come forward and explain herself: “As a teenager, I didn't understand that saying you’re a feminist is just saying that you hope women and men will have equal rights and equal opportunities. What it seemed to me, the way it was phrased in culture, society, was that you hate men. […] Becoming friends with Lena [Dunham, of hit TV show Girls] – without her preaching to me, but just seeing why she believes what she believes, why she says what she says, why she stands for what she stands for – has made me realize that I've been taking a feminist stance without actually saying so.

And who was given more stick from the media for her feminist views in the past few years than Lorde. When I first heard of her rather controversial opinion of Selena Gomez’s Come and Get It, my heart sank. Here’s a young, influential celebrity woman bashing another because of a silly pop song. And then, I actually researched. […] I'm a feminist and the theme of her song is, 'When you're ready come and get it from me.' I'm sick of women being portrayed this way.” Finally, here’s a 17 year old pop star, at the height of her career, having an input. Voicing the opinions we’ve all been having but were too afraid to share. In a society where many popular celebrities shun the word ‘feminist’ because of its supposed negative connotations, it’s refreshing and inspirational to have an intelligent young woman such as Lorde at the forefront. She’s not forcing her opinions on anyone - she’s actually having them, and standing by them too.

Source: variety.com
 A friend of Lorde’s and fellow feminist Tavi Gevinson is another lady who’s made my list of young female influencers. At just 11, Tavi began writing her blog Style Rookie, which placed her at the front row of many fashion weeks. Since, the blog has developed into Rookie Magazine, one of the most popular online teen websites in the world.  With a TED talk, interviews with the likes of Miley Cyrus and several television appearances under her belt at just 18, Tavi is an inspiration to teenage girls globally.

At the age of 12, when high fashion journalists began discovering her blog, many claimed that Tavi’s writing wasn’t all hers. Due to her strong views, eloquence and ability to express ideas articulately, the idea that a teenager growing up in suburban Chicago could discuss (and be interested in) topics such as feminism and politics was unimaginable. And yet, her success has proved that youth doesn’t always obliterate talent.

Source: rollingstone.com
Rookie Magazine, written by teenage girls for teenage girls, has shaped a new female generation without apathy and the shackles of insecurity. Tavi recognizes how tough growing up can be, because she’s experiencing it first-hand. Like Taylor, she’s incredibly aware, not just of herself but of the world around her – Rookie shies away from the age-old teen mag themes of cute boys and hairstyles, focusing on life experiences such as dealing with death, losing a best friend or learning to love yourself. The “eye candy” section, rather than repeated images of half-naked Justin Bieber, is a series of interesting photographs, inspirational quotes and mix media collages. It’s refreshing, contemporary and accommodating. Perhaps if the celebrities my age and older had something similar growing up, they wouldn't recoil from discussions on significant subjects such as feminism and homosexuality.

In a world where girls are tormented with eating disorders, social anxiety and self-doubt, it’s comforting to know that popular young women use their fame for more than just self-promotion. Children are growing up surrounded by the internet, where information is as accessible as milk from the fridge. Maybe that’s why role models are getting younger – they’re reaching beyond their goals, thirsty for more. Malala Yousafzai, awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for her campaigning and activist work, is just 17. Emma Watson, recently praised for her incredible feminism speech at the UN, is 24. Jennifer Lawrence, famous for her zero-tolerance attitude towards dieting and perfection, is also 24. Demi Lovato, open about her struggles with eating disorders and self-harm and willing to help others overcome these problems, is 22. All powerful, all young, all women. So what if my role models are younger than me? After all, age is just a number, right?



  1. i like this, you make some very good points, i still think pink is a better role model though.
    I love your blog <333

    1. My babes you actually commented!! <3 this has literally made me so happy haha. Pink IS a very good role model, I agree :) xx

    2. its cuz i love you.......and cuz i literally just figured out how too :P lol. your blog is amazing, i love reading your opinions on things :)

    3. Lol you're such a fish I love you <3 I'm so happy you read it it means so much to me!! xx


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