The Washington Post

Taylor Swift: Good or bad for girls?

Taylor Swift: role model or dangerous influence? Discuss.

Every now and then a cultural icon comes along who walks a very thin line for parents. Is he or she a good influence or someone we need to encourage our children to avoid?

Taylor Swift (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Beautiful young Taylor Swift is a hard call. She projects innocence with her heart, hand gestures and angelic persona. Even when, earlier this week, a wardrobe malfunction threatened to show skin, she was duly prepared and turned the moment into another reason for the media to praise her modesty.

Nevertheless, there’s something a little Stepford-y about Swift. She’s a walking Barbie Doll who models for Cover Girl and seems to be channeling some marketers’ idea of what girls should emulate.

Take the schizophrenic reviews of her recent Verizon Center Speak Now Tour stop. The Post quoted girls who gushed about Swift’s just-like-me-ness and her good-girl cred.

“She’s so normal. You can imagine her being your best friend,” a 16-year-old said. “Every situation that you’re in, there’s a Taylor Swift song for it.”

“She’s amazing to everyone. She doesn’t do anything bad. She loves her fans so much,” one 15-year-old said.

You’d think that a celebrity with an air of “normal” and who hasn’t done “anything bad” might be a parent’s dream. Not necessarily.

At least one other mother in the Verizon Center audience was cringing. Writer and editor Andrea Lampros brought her two daughters and son to the concert hoping it would be the highlight of their D.C. vacation. It wasn’t. Here’s an excerpt from her personal review on Huffington Post yesterday:

I didn’t expect Taylor Swift to make any radical, edgy, feminist remarks, but I also didn’t expect Gidget meets the Little Mermaid. What an incredible platform for Swift to say something as simple as “Girls rock!” or something even crazier like “Love yourselves!”

Instead, she finished each song by looking wide-eyed into the crowd and noting how “amazing” it was that so many people came to the show and how “beautiful” everyone looked (incredible how she could see people with all those lights in her eyes).

Maybe my family got the vacuous experience we deserved. That would be true if it were just a benignly bad concert experience. The problem is that it was an insidious concert experience that emphasized everything but the artist’s voice — the flowing fairy dresses and saccharine monologues covering up Swift’s real power. Covering up girl power.

What’s your take on Swift? Safe choice for your daughter or just a Disney Princess in disguise?


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