I remember thinking that I was supposed to disdain you, to think you were some silly, girly, flash-in-the-pan pop star. Those were the murmurings I had heard. But I was drawn in by what I saw, impressed by what I learned. You were intelligent, creative, tenacious, hard-working, kind, funny, and strong. You still are.
A few years later, my then small daughter grew into a tween and got interested in you and your music. Now she's a full-fledged teenager and still a devoted fan. She gets made fun of for this by some of her friends and others, but the more I learn about you and your music, I'm not sure why. Actually, that's not quite true. I think I do know why.
|Kayla was pretty excited about her new RED hoodie last Christmas.|
|Listening to your music while wearing your hoodie (sort of) while drawing in her new sketch book.|
You are yourself, no apologies.
Thank you for these things that you are, that somehow you choose to be. They are things I want for my daughter ~ a confidence in herself because she is created uniquely ~ in the image of God Himself, we believe.
Funny how being a fan of yours gives her an opportunity to live out that confidence. Funny how it is, for my daughter, similar to being a Christian, something that is also misunderstood and mocked quite a lot around here. She learns to take a gentle, firm stand on her respect and love for you (and other things unique to her), and at the same time, as strange as it may sound, she learns to do the same for her Lord.
Due to my extensive research, I have now also come to adore you (I really don't know who wouldn't after an honest evaluation) as well as your music. (Not everyone has to love your music, of course, but in my book, they should at least respect you.) I was hopelessly devoted to Olivia Newton John all throughout my childhood, so it seems like the natural course of things to also love you in my forties. I may have even taken several solo road trips in the last few years to various New England cities, airports, friends' houses in which I secretly made sure my daughter's iPod was still connected to my minivan stereo, so that I could crank "Red" and sing "All Too Well" over and over at the top of my lungs. That's my current favorite song of yours (with "Begin Again" and "Everything Has Changed" as close seconds), and you performed it ALL TOO WELL at the Grammy's this year.
Speaking of your music, thank you for your lyrics. They are not often sexual, but when they are, they reflect honestly the powerful and addictive nature of sex, like in "Treacherous."
"And I'd be smart to walk away, but you're quicksand.Yes, we all get pulled by the gravity of that treacherous slope at some point in our lives. Thank you for being honest and telling my daughter that it's just that ~ treacherous ~ and you'd "be smart to walk away." It helps me to talk with her about how difficult it is to walk away once there, and that she can make a decision regarding "getting swept away" particularly if she doesn't place herself in tempting situations.
This slope is treacherous, this path is reckless
This slope is treacherous, and I, I, I like it
I can't decide if it's a choice, getting swept away..."
And thank you for lyrics that reflect how a man ought to properly treat a woman. "Trouble" illustrates that in a negative way, but gets a pertinent point across:
"Once upon a time a few mistakes ago, I was in your sights, you got me alone
You found me, you found me, you found me
I guess you didn't care, and I guess I liked that, and when I fell hard, you took a step back
Without me, without me, without me...
And he's long gone when he's next to me, and I realize the blame/joke is on me
'Cause I knew you were trouble when you walked in"It's so true, Taylor. So many women fall for unavailable, insensitive, selfish guys, because they don't know their own worth, and so I'm glad you also sing about the good guys, like in "Begin Again":
"Walked in expecting you'd be late, but you got here early and you stand and wave, I walk to youA cafe date? On a Wednesday? He pulled out your chair? Thanks for showing girls everywhere what they deserve, what they should expect.
You pull my chair out and help me in, and you don't know how nice that is, but I do
And you throw your head back laughing like a little kid
I think it's strange that you think I'm funny 'cause he never did
and I've been spending the last eight months thinking all love ever does is break and burn and end
But on a Wednesday in a cafe, I watched it begin again"
And I love it that you mention family so often, Taylor. When I first heard the song, "The Best Day," I said skeptically to my daughter in the passenger seat, "I certainly hope Taylor is talking about her mom here."
"She is, Mom," she happily replied.
"I'm thirteen now and don't know how my friends could be so meanAnd it was confirmed that you were talking about your love for your family when you say this:
I came home crying and you hold me tight and grab the keys
And we drive and drive till we found a town far enough away
And we talk and window shop until I forgot all their names"
"I have an excellent father, his strength is making me strongerThank you for showing my daughter how cool it is to love and appreciate your family.
God smiles on my little brother, inside and out, he's better than I am
I grew up in a pretty house and I had space to run
And I had the best days with you"
And thank you for showing her that other families also like to pull out embarrassing childhood photos:
"Photo album on the counter, your cheeks were turning redHanging out with your boyfriend's family at his house and talking about normal life ~ how refreshing!
You used to be a little kid with glasses in a twin-sized bed
And your mother's telling stories about you on the tee ball team
You tell me 'bout your past thinking your future is me"
~ All Too Well
And I even love your unapologetic portrayal of a woman's desire to be a beautiful bride, to be married, sacrificed for, and settled into a future with one man.
"Romeo, save me, I've been feeling so aloneWhile I will have to emphasize that getting married will never complete my daughter, nor should it be her ultimate goal, I'm thankful that the desire is validated somewhere in a culture that thinks it either an unnecessary, irrelevant institution or advocates for its aberration ~ which is sort of ironic when you think about it.
I keep waiting for you but you never come
Is this in my head? I don't know what to think
He knelt to the ground and pulled out a ring and said
'Marry me, Juliet. You'll never have to be alone
I love you and that's all I really know.
I talked to your dad ~ go pick out a white dress
It's a love story, baby, just say, "Yes"'"
~ Love Story
And I know they make fun of you for your supposed "serial dating," but as you responded to Tina Fey in a Vogue interview, it's only been two guys since 2010.
So... "don't you worry your pretty little mind. People throw rocks at things that shine."It's so true, Taylor, people are so ready to throw stones, and you handle it with lots of grace and humility. And speaking of those who mock you, it's also true that women are the worst misogynists. The WORST. Let me apologize for that. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their own jealousy. The thing is, you understand that, and it's part of what enables you to rise above those petty, catty situations. One of those totally uncalled for criticisms occurred recently when you wore this outfit.
The song that sort of "sealed the deal" for me regarding your worthiness of my daughter's affection was "Fifteen." I want to thank you for being honest and bold enough to write this song. There is so much truth in it.
"Cause when you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love youI spend quite a bit of time with women who "gave everything she had to a boy" and they regret it, are completely broken over it. Somehow, though, when the secular, pop culture world reinforces the biblical truth from the screen and stage, it helps those who might not be fully convinced of what God Himself has been gently teaching for eternity: casual sex is an oxymoron. When the message comes from you, even subtly, it encourages girls to hold on to something they probably already know deep down, since the law of God is written on their hearts. I think you might even be aware of this, coming from a Presbyterian church-going family.
You're gonna believe them
And when you're fifteen and your first kiss makes your head spin around
But in your life you'll do things greater than dating the boy on the football team
But I didn't know it at fifteen
When all you wanted was to be wanted
Wish you could go back and tell yourself what you know now
Back then I swore I was gonna marry him someday
But I realized some bigger dreams of mine
And Abigail gave everything she had to a boy who changed his mind
And we both cried..."
I'm just so thankful that you tell the truth. So many in your business lie about the consequences of promiscuous, outside-of-marriage sex, glorifying the thing that so often brings shame and destruction.
So, my sincerest thanks to you. That my daughter has chosen you as her favorite celebrity and pop culture role model is, so far, fine by me, because of your choices and message. I say "so far," though, because time has a way of testing things, and you are still young. But you also started young, very young in fact, and you've maintained a rare consistency in that amount of time. I pray it will only continue and grow. More than that, I pray, as does my daughter, that you will come to know, in a deeply personal, saving way, the God who has granted you these gifts, this grace.
|Hi Taylor! Warmest greetings from chilly-in-December-Massachusetts!|