So Taylor Swift is on the cover of the new issue of Vogue, as you can see above. And before I read it, I was really ready to give her a chance. See, I don’t like Taylor because she insists on doing these awful covers of great songs and I feel like at least some of her popularity is undeserved and because she’s a 22-year-old who is stuck in 10th grade. It’s annoying.
With all my annoyances though, I’d never really read all that many interviews with Taylor, because I just don’t see them that often. So I thought maybe this would be different. I thought maybe she’d seem really adorable and likable and I’d change my mind and buy all her albums and be a changed woman.
But you guys. All she did was talk about middle school forever. How is she 22 and still obsessed with middle school? Not even high school. Middle school. Oh, and the one thing she said that actually sounded cute and charming (honey badger!), she asked that it be off the record. UGH.
On honey badgers: One of the first things she mentions is the infamous honey-badger clip on YouTube that features a deadpan obscenity-laced narration. Swift knows every line—though she asks if her cursing can be off the record. She may be edgier than her image suggests, but she is not Courtney Love. She has a deeply ingrained sense of appropriateness. She also knows her audience—and knows that they aren’t ready for her to grow up quite yet.
On middle school: “So . . . middle school? Awkward,” she says, launching into the first of many comic riffs. “Having a hobby that’s different from everyone else’s? Awkward. Singing the national anthem on weekends instead of going to sleepovers? More awkward. Braces? Awkward. Gain a lot of weight before you hit the growth spurt? Awkward. Frizzy hair, don’t embrace the curls yet? Awkward. Try to straighten it? Awkward!” She starts to laugh. “So many phases!”
More on school: “I think who you are in school really sticks with you,” she says. “I don’t ever feel like the cool kid at the party, ever. It’s like, Smile and be nice to everybody, because you were not invited to be here.”
Even more on school: “All of my favorite people—people I really trust—none of them were cool in their younger years,” she says. “Because if you know how to be cool in middle school, maybe you have skills you shouldn’t. Maybe you know how to be conniving, like, naturally.” She laughs. “There’s always that seventh-grade girl who looks like she’s 25. And you’re like, How do you do it? How do you do it, Sarah Jaxheimer?” She lets out a comically ear-piercing shriek: “Why is your hair always so shiny?!”
More school: Swift finally stopped caring about being cool. “I think that happened as soon as I left school, when I was sixteen, because then all that mattered was music and this dream that I’d had my whole life. It never mattered to me that people in school didn’t think that country music was cool, and they made fun of me for it—though it did matter to me that I was not wearing the clothes that everybody was wearing at that moment. But at some point, I was just like, I like wearing sundresses and cowboy boots.”
On her fans: “I look out at the stadiums full of people and see them all knowing the words to songs I wrote,” says Swift. “And curling their hair! I remember straightening my hair because I wanted to be like everybody else, and now the fact that anybody would emulate what I do? It’s just funny. And wonderful.”
On getting freaked out: “This is what I’ve wanted to do my whole life,” she says. “It never freaks me out. Never. Ever.” She pauses for a moment. “But you know what does freak me out? When is the other shoe going to drop? I am so happy right now. So I am always living in fear. This can’t be real, right? This can’t really be my life.”
On not being a party girl: “I think, for me, the bigger pitfall is losing your self-awareness. Even though I am at a place where my dresses are really pretty and the red carpets have a lot of bright lights and I get to play to thousands of people . . . you have to take that with a grain of salt. The stakes are really high if you mess up, if you slack off and don’t make a good record, if you make mistakes based on the idea that you are larger than life and you can just coast.” She pauses. “If you start thinking you’ve got it down, that’s when you run into trouble—either by getting complacent or becoming mouthy.” She laughs. “And nobody likes that.”
On being in love: “I think I am smart unless I am really, really in love, and then I am ridiculously stupid.”
On dating: “I got nothing going on! I just don’t really feel like dating. I really have this great life right now, and I’m not sad and I’m not crying this Christmas, so I am really stoked about that.” Were you crying last Christmas? “I am not gonna go into it! It’s a sad story!”
Taylor Swift’s red flags:
1. “If someone doesn’t seem to want to get to know me as a person but instead seems to have kind of bought into the whole idea of me and he approves of my Wikipedia page? And falls in love based on zero hours spent with me? That’s maybe something to be aware of. That will fade fast. You can’t be in love with a Google search.”
2. “If a dude is threatened by the fact that I need security, if they make me feel like I am some sort of princessy diva—that’s a bad sign. I don’t have security to make myself look cool, or like I have an entourage. I have security because there’s a file of stalkers who want to take me home and chain me to a pipe in their basement.”
3. “If you need to put me down a lot in order to level the playing field or something? If you are threatened by some part of what I do and want to cut me down to size in order to make it even? That won’t work either.”
4. “Also, I can’t deal with someone who’s obsessed with privacy. People kind of care if there are two famous people dating. But no one cares that much. If you care about privacy to the point where we need to dig a tunnel under this restaurant so that we can leave? I can’t do that.”
Well, there you go. That’s enough Taylor for a lifetime, huh?