Why Taylor Swift Reinventing Herself Helps My Mental Health Recovery
Taylor Swift has become “persona non grata” to many people. She is either too fake, or has had too many boyfriends or is too much of a snake for lots of people. But for me, she is one of my idols. I absolutely adore her and feel like anything she does is golden.
She has never publicly spoken about any mental health issues she may or may not have, but she has spoken about feeling like the odd one out. About not fitting in or classmates thinking she is loser. She has spoken out about people misinterpreting her actions. She is clear that the media has played fast and loose with her personal life as well. Over the past few years, she has remained fairly hidden and fairly silent, seemingly trying to escape and avoid the media’s harsh glare. She has had so-called feuds with several other celebrities, which we will never truly know both sides of. I believe this act of taking the time for herself shows a strong sense of self. As someone with mental health issues, I can be afraid of doing what I need to do for myself, but she has done this with grace lately showing that no matter what you do for a living, self-care matters.
One thing that has come across clearly to me in all of Taylor’s “eras” is that she is strong, true to herself and loyal. In her music video, “Look What You Made Me Do,” she recently proclaimed the old Taylor couldn’t come to the phone because she was dead. I realize this made a fair amount of people roll their eyes. But to me, it had such a strong meaning.
She is tired of letting the media, rumors and feuds dictate her every move. Yes, she is famous and that obviously means she will be under intense scrutiny and people will be very curious about her life. But it doesn’t mean she will allow herself to be disrespected or misrepresented. This rebirth of the new Taylor is showing this immense strength and courage that, as someone who struggles with mental health issues, I find her incredibly impressive and inspiring.
Here are just a few of the reasons why.
1. Her lawsuit for one dollar against radio DJ David Mueller.
After this man sexually assaulted her, she stood up for herself — and all sexual assault survivors — by suing him for sexual assault on the principle that “no means no.” She has all the money she could ever need, so this was symbolic of standing up for women and proclaiming that harassment of any kind is inappropriate. She helped so many women, myself included, who may have felt that their own assaults were less than, not important or not severe enough to be reported or taken seriously. It helped me realize she believed me, she felt for me, she understood me and she wanted people like me to know our assaults were real and were wrong. Her strength in the courtroom resonated with me as a woman who has experienced an attempt to remove my power. She did not allow him to overpower her, and her strength grew through her actions.
2. That snake thing.
Taylor used a snake to announce her return to the music scene with her upcoming album, “Reputation.” She had been branded a snake across social media. Now, she has chosen to own the snake. Once again, she is showing strength and power. The online bullying of her that occurred must have hurt her feelings, however, she is rising above that and embracing the snake as a positive. As someone who struggles with this every single day — trying to get my anxieties and negative thoughts to become more positive thoughts — seeing her ability to do this while in the limelight inspires me to keep moving forward every day to get better.
3. Wiping her social media accounts.
Social media is something many people with mental health issues can struggle with. I will spend hours poring over social media comparing my life to the lives of others. Judging myself because my friends seem to have a better this or that than I do. It’s unproductive and unrealistic, but difficult nonetheless. Taylor Swift decided to wipe her accounts clean and start fresh. This is very symbolic of her proclamation that the old Taylor is dead. I feel that by wiping them clean, she is also removing the bullying, the negative comments and the feelings this may have given her. While I’m not famous, I feel this can benefit me and other with mental health issues if we take the time to cultivate our newsfeeds so that they lift us up rather than bring us down.
4. The symbolism she always uses.
Taylor Swift has long been known for leaving secret messages for her fans. She loves to act as Santa Claus sending out Christmas presents. She hid words in song lyrics contained within her album books. She found numerous ways to include the number 13 in her work which is very meaningful to her. Her most recent music videos for “Look What You Made Me Do” and “Ready For It?” were heavily laden with hidden and obvious symbolism. She is reflecting the internal conflict she has between the old Taylor and the new Taylor. I believe anyone with a mental illness can relate to this idea of an internal struggle. I always long to be my old self because I always feel like that version is better. But just as the old Taylor is dead, so is my old self. She is embracing this newer, stronger, edgier version of her persona who has been the ringer, but came out stronger. I’m encouraged by her gaining strength in her struggle and, and as someone with mental health struggles, she helps me be proud of my new self in recovery.
5. Her support for her fans.
No matter what has happened to her in her personal life, the media, etc., she will always make time to visit fans who are ill, or send them encouraging messages, or generally make people feel like even if they don’t “fit in,” they will always they fit in with her. She represents this safe haven where our anxieties, fears and negative thoughts can melt away because we belong in this club of her fans. I feel we are supported by her, understood by her and believed by her. The environment she has created is so accepting that, even if only for a little while, I feel as though I am good enough.
In each of these things she does, I believe she is encouraging strength, acceptance and love of oneself. She is being honest that she was hurt, that she struggles and she is proud of who she is regardless of what other people think. Whether or not she has ever struggled with a mental health issue, she demonstrates that she understands, she supports us and serves to show us how to win the fight no matter what we’re put through.
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Screenshot via Taylor Swift YouTube channel