Swift reveals her challenging path to success in Miss Americana

Dylan Stanford

Pop singer Taylor Swift reveals intimate details about her quick rise to success in Miss Americana, an 85-minute documentary that is full of behind-the-scenes insight into the person she has become.

The documentary starts with a few home videos of Swift, quickly summarizing her rise to fame starting at the age of 14. However, it is soon clear that despite being successful, being able to perform, and having millions of fans who support her, Swift is unable to feel completely whole.

The next home video is one of her sitting on a couch, waiting to hear what albums have been nominated for the Grammys. When she hears that she hasn’t been nominated, Swift—already a star— reveals how that provoked an aspect of herself that needed to be fixed.

She recalls that while growing up, she had only ever learned to find happiness from one source: approval. Swift claims that she simply became the person that everyone wanted her to be and could only feel like the fame was worth it when she had the approval of strangers.

Swift then takes the documentary into an area that many, including me, can relate to.  When admitting to the unhealthy aspects of her lifestyle, she talked about the negative impacts that this has had on her mental health, and how she would determine her self-worth on approval.

The pop singer admitted that she had problems with eating disorders due to the comments and pictures she would see of herself, but one of the most shocking revelations and experiences she had was the first Kanye West incident: .when West interrupted her acceptance speech at the MTV Music Awards in 2009 to tell the whole crowd that Beyonce had the best music video and deserved the award.

And then a few years later, there was another scandal involving West and Swift. While the exact details and intentions behind the incident are unclear, there is one thing for sure: Swift received a lot of hate.

The hashtag, “TaylorSwiftIsOverParty” was trending on Twitter, and this was when Swift disappeared from social media and the music industry for a year.

Seeing some of the tweets and things that people would say about Swift was shocking. I’m in no way surprised that Swift thought everyone wanted her to disappear; they were treating her like she wasn’t even human.

After this, the first half of the documentary is dedicated to Swift trying to overcome the pressures that she felt were put on her to be a certain way and to act a certain way. During her time away from the cameras, Swift recounts that it was the happiest she had been. She learned to “rewire” her brain in a way that allowed her not to rely on others for happiness, and she recounts that she finally had someone she would be able to call (other than her mom and family) when she had good news.

For me, someone who has been a Swift fan since her very first album and has followed her throughout the years, this first half was extremely emotional. It is definitely hard learning that someone you grew up wanting to be like, and someone who you idolized, went through those things and was struggling internally.

However, the second half of Miss Americana made me gain so much more respect for Swift.

Swift details her journey and thought process behind finally releasing her opinions on politics. For so long, Swift had been taught to not get into trouble and avoid saying anything that could make someone dislike her. She had always been a “good girl.”

First, Swift recounts what it was like having to go to court for her sexual assault case—  all the horrible things people said, how many people claimed she was lying, how she was humiliated and degraded by the twisting of the truth. All for an incident that had picture evidence and seven witnesses. It was horrible.

However, Swift made something positive out of the experience and used it as a way to reach out to her fans. During the documentary, there is a clip of Swift during one of her concerts publicly speaking about the incident, and she apologizes. She apologized to everyone who went through something like that, and had people not believe them, which is out of character for someone who normally stays quiet and tries not to say anything controversial.

Second, when her home state of Tennessee was having senate elections, Swift said that she had to speak out against Martha Blackburn.

For Swift, Blackburn represented everything against what Swift stood for, and she was being torn apart in the inside simply watching being confined to the sidelines.

When she finally stood up for what she believed in, Swift couldn’t care less about what other people thought. The character development from the beginning of the documentary to the end was absolutely amazing.

Swift even released a powerful new song called “Only the Young” that alludes to the results of many of the elections and the fear that students face walking into school every day.

As a Swifty, I was absolutely thrilled hearing the song, as I knew that the journey Swift had to make to get to this point— a point where she is finally comfortable speaking her mind— was extremely difficult.

But at the same time, the documentary was extremely upsetting, and it is something I feel everyone should watch.

Swift’s documentary is a perfect example that demonstrates how society treats artists, specifically female artists. We often forget that these celebrities are humans with feelings, and we “cancel” them over the smallest things.

Miss Americana is a story that tells a story of many.