Taylor for tweens
Is Taylor Swift a good role model for young girls?
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I’ve written about role models before, and how difficult it can be to find good ones in popular culture. I’ve swung our focus around to looking at good role models from the past to figuring out good ones that we have access to from within our own lives.

The Popstar debate

Popular culture will intervene though, no matter what we do. The choice to be made, I suppose, is for parents to attempt to figure out which ones to ditch and which ones might work on some level. That’s exactly where I am with Taylor Swift.

A Swift Movement

I wasn’t a fan of hers, at all, for a long time. Then she bust out with that anthem “Shake It Off” and I started looking at her more often. As my YouTube history began filling up with more and more of her songs, I realised that she (at least, lyrically) tackles some of the more nasty aspects of growing up, and isn’t afraid to share her experiences of being bullied and the like. Reading up on her life, I came to realise that she wasn’t always the confident woman striding across the stage that we see nowadays, and that’s something I can admire.

Friends, not frenemies

As for her personal life…I’ve noticed how she rebels against the mean girl movement. Teen and tween girls deal with the mean girls on a daily basis, and I have many memories of my own from that stage of life. They still hurt, sometimes. Aside from the tabloid reports on alleged feuds (it always strikes me as strange how magazines make money off popstar’s supposed spats), I’ve also taken note of her congenial and engaging attitude towards other celebrities. Taylor’s throwing her friends parties, and it doesn’t matter if those friends feature on some A-list or B-list. To her, they’re her mates and she’s not afraid to shine the spotlight on them, or share the stage. I like that about her.

Fans who are friends

That attitude shows in her interactions with fans too. Her much-publicised Christmas campaign, where she packaged up personalized parcels for some of her most avid Swift fanatics impressed me, especially when you consider that many other popstars pull the “No Autographs” or “Don’t touch me” or “That’ll be 95 bucks for a photograph” moves.  

But this needs context

I’ve told you how great I’ve found Taylor Swift so far but, without context, Taylor doesn’t come off well. We only know about her good deeds, because her life is spent in the spotlight. Of course she’ll be lauded for being so wonderful with fans, but the question remains – is it authentic, or does she do it for the fame? I can’t answer that, and neither can anyone else, except Taylor.

Her songs need context too

This has been the topic of hot debate in my home. If you listen to songs like “Blank Space” or “Shake It Off” without knowing that Taylor’s being pretty tongue in cheek within them, you might think she’s not that great. “Boys only want love if it's torture” is a line doesn't fit well as a breeding ground for the good sort of relationships we hope our children will have one day. But if you know that the entire song is her commentary on how the media’s portrayed her love life (“ain’t it funny, rumours fly”), it starts making some sense.

Is Taylor a good role model for teen girls? I can’t answer that for every teen girl out there, but I do know that I don’t mind my daughter learning that the mean girl movement is dead.

Do you think Tayor Swift is a good role model?

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