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Why Taylor Swift Changed Her “Anti-Hero” Music Video

Taylor Swift’s tenth album, Midnights, has officially been out for a week and has already set many records. Rolling Stones referred to the album as “an instant classic,” and in just one day of sales, it became the top-selling album of the year. But in the face of all this success, a controversy has emerged. The controversy has to do with one particular scene in the music video for the third song on the album, “Anti-Hero.” 

The scene in the “Anti-Hero” music video that has prompted dramatic backlash went as follows. Taylor Swift steps onto a scale and looks down to read the number, but in place of the numeric digits was the three-letter word “fat.” We hear her sing the line, “I stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror.” Then the camera pans over to the second version of herself, peering down at the scale and tsk-tsking as she shakes her head, ‘no.’

The scene in the video is described as “fatphobic” and “damaging” by health professionals. Swift explained in a tweet last Friday that this scene from her music video was meant to represent her “nightmare scenarios and intrusive thoughts.” Though meant to clarify the issue surrounding the backlash over the video, the tweet seemed to have the opposite effect, as the wording elicited upset over the connotations of being fat being her “nightmare scenario.” Shira Rosenbluth, a social worker, specializing in eating disorder treatment, responded in a tweet stating, “…Fat people don’t need to have it reiterated yet again that it’s everyone’s worst nightmare to look like us.” 

Now, it sounds to this author like what Swift meant to say was that her “nightmare scenarios” weren’t about being fat, but rather about being socially ostracized for her weight, on account of the scene wasn’t just the clip of the scale, but of the other version of her (depicted as the “anti-hero) looking down at her for it. Furthermore, there is another scene in the video showing her as larger than everybody in a room with her, and she is once again met with opposition in the social setting. But then again, I don’t speak for Taylor Swift. 

In any case, Swift has already taken action as a direct response to the backlash, and removed the shot of the scale reading “fat” entirely. Some fans have suggested that in lieu of the word “fat,” Swift could have used the phrase “not thin enough” in order to communicate the same sentiment about feelings of self-loathing without using fatphobic rhetoric. 

Regardless of the video, it has not seemed to negatively impact the album or the star’s success at all, as songs from the album have continued to top the charts all week long. If anything, the slight controversy has contributed to the album’s success, as the song “Anti-Hero” is currently the number one song on Spotify’s global top 50 charts.

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