Dear Taylor Swift,
One of my core memories in life dates back to my freshman year of high school. I was sitting on a school bus with my class in the middle of Los Angeles. We were visiting Southern California to tour different colleges. And I had one of those old iPod Classics with hundreds of songs from my mom’s iTunes library. This was back when I had to pick and choose the songs I wanted to buy. And there were three songs on repeat in my ears while everyone else was hanging out with their friends and making fun of me. One of those songs was “Teardrops on My Guitar.”
I can almost picture myself still sitting on that bus hearing your voice in my ears each time that memory crosses my mind. Do you have any memories like that? The ones that transport you back like you can physically sense everything about it. I bet you do — your poetry and music suggests that you do. And I love that about you. You don’t know me and it’s very unlikely we will ever meet. But I wanted to write you this letter in hopes that it may encourage you and affirm your story. I truly hope that you do get to read this some day.
My name is Angela. Nowadays, I’m a wedding photographer and portrait photographer. And I do dream of getting to photograph you some day! As you’ve shared more and more of your story with the world, my understanding of you and what you do has evolved. And it makes me wish I had understood it sooner. I definitely don’t claim to know you fully or even understand you since I’m not you. And we don’t actually know each other. But I hope that what I do know now brings you some peace and healing.
For the longest time, I was indifferent to you and your story. I only ever listened to your singles or hits. But not because I intentionally avoided whole records. The idea that a record was art didn’t really register with me until I read words you had shared somewhere after 1989 was released. That these albums, these records, were bodies of work created by an artist. You had shared that you had intentionally chosen the order of the songs and the images, colors, lyrics, packaging and everything in between were all mediums for the story you were telling. And it hit me: you truly are an artist.
The narrative that the media pushed about Taylor Swift on me was too easy to accept. Before 1989, I was definitely guilty of accepting the lies people online said about you. I listened to the trash they spoke about you and bought into that mob mentality against you. Taylor, I am so sorry about that. I regret so much the things I’ve said about you and your life. I had no idea what I was talking about. And I should have known that it was so wrong for people to talk about you like that. I truly am sorry.
Since 1989, I’ve become a huge Taylor Swift fan. Spending hours listening to your albums (in order) on repeat. Trying to memorize your stunning lyrics as quickly as I can. At the last minute I bought two tickets to your 1989 World Tour at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Actually, my dad was one of the security guards at that concert and it was one of his first events he worked there. It was an absolute blast and one of the best spontaneous things I’ve ever done. Thank you for that epic adventure.
Then Reputation came out. I was BLOWN away! Every time you do something, you take it up so many notches. And I feel like you constantly redetermine where the ceiling is. That album freaking wrecked me — and it came out at a critical time in my life. Everything I knew about myself was starting to change and I was desperately trying to stay the same. But I look back at that season and what those songs meant for me at that time. You were showing me that change is good. That boundaries are good. That being a woman is strength. And showing me just how much internalized misogyny was in me and in the world. Taylor, thank you. Thank you for being brave and vulnerable with your songs on Reputation.
That following year, I was quick to buy tickets to your Reputation Stadium Tour. And it was the best effing concert I have ever been to. My mom and my then-boyfriend went with me. And we had such a blast! You and your team seriously inspired me practically to my knees. Remember how I said that your words about 1989 being a body of work resonated with me? I see that continuing on when I look at the concert you and your team designed. The feat of engineering and choreography and design and preparation and everything that went into that. The hours and muscles and patience and practice it all took… it blew me away. It taught me to appreciate that the body of work of Reputation was absolutely unbelievable from start to finish. Wow.
And when Lover came out, my love and admiration for you was solidified. And the undoing of all the misogyny and arrogance in myself started to really take root. I’m terribly sorry for the trauma and injustices that have been done to you. It by no means makes it okay, but I just wanted to say that that is being redeemed in me. Your pain has taught me about and freed me from so many things: toxic religion, purity culture, misogyny, sexism, feminism, love, respect, acceptance, social justice, human rights, art, business… I could go on!
You shouldn’t have had to go through what you’ve been through to get people like me to change. Nothing will ever make that okay. I really want you to know that I see you now. That if you had to go through it, at the very very least it is being redeemed now.
I’ve only fallen more in love with you, your work and your story as time goes on. I was so excited for Loverfest and my now-husband and I definitely used multiple songs from that album at our COVID wedding! Your documentary also taught me so much. And you were so vulnerable with us. Thank you for sharing your story and your heart. You are such a hard worker, and you always surround yourself with the best people. What your industry calls risky you scoff at and make your own rules. I love that. I want to be like that in my industry. When you speak out against sexist jokes and call people out on their bullshit. I love that, too. I want to be like that!
With every new “Taylor’s Version” album that comes out, I feel like we move closer and closer to justice. Justice for you. Justice for your team. And justice for women and artists. I truly cannot wait to have “taylor’s version” tattooed on me some day! Because it sends a message. We will not be owned and controlled by anyone. Especially gross men. You are the king, Taylor. There is nothing that cannot be yours!
You don’t accept things the way they’ve always been done. And we all know that just because it’s how something is done doesn’t mean it’s what should be done (Cinderella also said that in 2015). I take that message with me everywhere I go. And it’s because of you. You are quite literally a hero for me. An inspiration and role model. It is my hope to embody the same tenants of character that I understand you to have. Of course, I want to be myself — I want to be the best version of Angela I can be. And you inspire me to do that.
Taylor, you are an exemplary woman. A talented artist. Fierce friend. Incredible human being. Powerful business person. And brave warrior. A force to be reckoned with. Like so many have said before, you are the music industry. I also believe you are what it means to be a human being.
We all know that no person is without flaws. Please don’t mistake my admiration for you as an unrealistic pedestal. I know without a doubt you have bad days and make mistakes. That’s what makes you so special. You’re so humble and genuine because I see you mending broken things and celebrating your peers. It’s truly incredible.
My hope is that this love letter to you would show you that you are loved. I’m sure you know that. But I just wanted to say it. I love you with my whole heart. I will always be here for you. And I cannot wait to see your story continue to unfold. As much of it as you’re willing to share with us.
Angela (Taylor’s Version)