Taylor Swift's Anti-Hero video sparks fatphobia conversation
24 October 2022, 17:28 | Updated: 26 October 2022, 20:11
Taylor Swift references her struggles with an eating disorder in her 'Anti-Hero' music video.
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CONTENT WARNING: This article contains details about eating disorders that some readers may find triggering.
Taylor Swift has been accused of "fatphobia" after a scene in her new 'Anti-Hero' music video sparked backlash on Twitter.
Last week (Oct 21), Taylor Swift released 'Anti-Hero' as the lead single from her new album Midnights. Describing 'Anti-Hero' on Instagram, Taylor said: "This song is a real guided tour throughout all the things I tend to hate about myself". The music video sees Taylor confront physical manifestations of her inner demons and it's received widespread praise from fans.
In recent years, Taylor has opened up about struggling with an eating disorder. In her Miss Americana documentary, Taylor explains that she used to starve herself. Taylor makes a clear reference to this in the 'Anti-Hero' video. In one scene, she stands on a pair of scales and the word "fat" appears. Another version of Taylor then shakes her head behind her.
Shortly after the music video came out, a conversation started online as to whether or not the scene is fatphobic. Some people began defending Taylor, while others called for her to remove the scene from the music video. Taylor has since removed the scene from the video on Apple Music. However, it remains on YouTube for the time being.
Following the release of Taylor's 'Anti-Hero' video, eating disorder therapist Shira Rose tweeted: "Taylor Swift’s music video, where she looks down at the scale where it says fat, is a shitty way to describe her body image struggles. Fat people don’t need to have it reiterated yet again that it’s everyone’s worst nightmare to look like us."
Elsewhere, another person stated: "As an actual fat person genuinely how are we supposed to feel seeing this? Watching a thin person remind the whole world that one of their biggest fears is being fat is looking like me. Demonizing the word fat while never having the experience of living in a fat body? Fatphobic."
Both tweets quickly went viral with many asking Taylor to apologise for the scene and edit it out of the video.
Having an eating disorder doesn’t excuse fatphobia.— Shira Rose (@theshirarose) October 21, 2022
It’s not hard to say, “I’m struggling with my body image today” instead of I’m a fat, disgusting pig.
I understand having an eating disorder and body issues. but specifically using the word “fat” in such a derogatory context explicitly sends the message that being fat is a bad thing. it villianizes fatness.— ♀️ (@fatfabfeminist) October 21, 2022
i’m disappointed that this is the message taylor swift chose to send.
Yeah the Taylor “fat” thing sucks, and that isn’t me belittling or demonizing her experience with an eating disorder. It’s how she did it: the imagery implies that few things are worse/scarier to her than having a fat body, especially as a woman who’s never existed in a fat body.— Alicia Lutes (@alicialutes) October 23, 2022
In response to the backlash, some fans rallied around Taylor and highlighted that the scene is based on her own body image issues. One person tweeted: "if you have a problem with taylor depicting her own eating disorders and body dysmorphia in a video about how much she hates herself might i suggest realizing that not everything is about you."
Another added: "Fat person with past ED issues here… an ED is a distorted view of one’s body & crucially, a consuming terror of fatness. Showing Taylor being terrified of fatness is depicting her past distorted ED mindset... not promoting it. She’s highlighting the fact that it is distorted."
A fan also wrote: "Do you know how anorexia works?? Is Taylor not allowed to talk about her experience with her body image struggles ????? The fuck?"
if you have a problem with taylor depicting her own eating disorders and body dysmorphia in a video about how much she hates herself might i suggest realizing that not everything is about you.— right where you left me warrior (@dontblameklara) October 21, 2022
Fat person with past ED issues here… an ED is a distorted view of one’s body & crucially, a consuming terror of fatness.— ã (@a18217635) October 21, 2022
Showing Taylor being terrified of fatness is depicting her past distorted ED mindset… not promoting it. She’s highlighting the fact that it is distorted.
im sorry but the discourse around the “fat” bit in the MV… do you know what it’s like to struggle with an eating disorder and body dysmorphia?? do you know how anorexia works??? is taylor not allowed to talk about her experience with her body image struggles ????? the fuck?— rachael (taylor’s version) (@expiredthrills) October 21, 2022
Discussing her body image issues with Variety in 2019, Taylor said: "I remember how, when I was 18, that was the first time I was on the cover of a magazine. And the headline was like 'Pregnant at 18?' And it was because I had worn something that made my lower stomach look not flat. So I just registered that as a punishment."
She added: "And then I’d walk into a photo shoot and be in the dressing room and somebody who worked at a magazine would say, 'Oh, wow, this is so amazing that you can fit into the sample sizes. Usually, we have to make alterations to the dresses, but we can take them right off the runway and put them on you!' And I looked at that as a pat on the head."
Taylor ended saying: "You register that enough times, and you just start to accommodate everything towards praise and punishment, including your own body."
Based on her past comments, it seems likely that Taylor meant no ill intent by the scene in 'Anti-Hero'. However, there's no denying that it has been triggering for many people and, as mentioned above, she has now removed the scene from the video on Apple Music. We shall let you know if she removes it from YouTube too.
Read more Taylor Swift news here:
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- Taylor Swift casts trans actor Laith Ashley as her love interest in Midnights music videos
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