A mother’s letter to Taylor Swift
Dear Taylor Swift,
My daughter adores you.
I realize she is one of millions of young women who do, but you see, she’s my daughter, and she’s seven, and I wasn’t really ready for this. The other night she stood in the aisles of Target, torn between the toys and the CDs–your CDs, trying to decide what she wanted for Christmas.
I never had this dilemma at seven, Taylor; I always wanted a doll for Christmas. But my dolls of the past have become four real babies in the present, and my first baby is growing up, which is terrifying. And she’s not me; she’s herself. She stood deliberating by your CDs, and I couldn’t believe it. The influence of an artist is upon her, and I was scared.
I don’t want to give you the wrong impression, Taylor: my daughter is very innocent. Her favorite song that you sing is “Never Grow Up.” She came to me the other day to whisper something shocking a girl had said at school. The girl had playfully said, “I’m sexy and I know it,” and Abby didn’t know what that meant.
It’s a strange world for childhood, isn’t it Taylor? It wasn’t too long ago that Miley, beloved by legions of little girls, cut off her hair, her restraint, her mystery, and her dignity and flung them to the wind to bare all of herself to the world. She chose to use her vast artistic platform to broadcast one puerile, cliché message: I’m sexy and I know it. She never spoke truer words when she called herself a wrecking ball.
Abby missed the Miley era; she was a toddler then. But your star is rising, and she’s taken notice. So, I’m watching you a little anxiously, Taylor. I am watching to see what you will do with your empire. I read your cover article in Time magazine. I was impressed–your ambition, your lyrical writing and musical craftsmanship, and your crossover from country to pop are all admirable. What now will you do with your power and your platform?
Rhianna, Beyoncé, and Nicki Minaj have all made their stand on small variations of the same message as Miley. Yes, we see that you are sexy and you know it, and we’re getting a little tired of hearing about it.
Now I am not suggesting, Taylor, that women shouldn’t embrace their own sexuality. I am for that. But sexuality is not an end in itself, and we are souls housed in these bodies. Long after our peak sexual years are passed, we as women have great value and wisdom and life and love to offer. If we choose to be defined primarily by our sexuality, we will be in a world of identity pain when our bodies inevitably start aging.
Taylor, you are a poet, and I believe you could write songs that transcend the cliché themes, songs with soul themselves, songs that live outside you and stand alone because they touch the deep, universal places within each of us. The question is: what will you do with your power and your platform and your responsibility and influence? How will you steward your gift? Will you see your art as a service to the world? Will you think of the little girls coming along behind you or will you, like Miley, be a wrecking ball of personal freedom?
I am hoping for the best, Taylor.
May the Lord guard you and guide you.
One watching mama.
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