As a female, I don’t think it is an unusual experience to grow up with a sense that you need to be a good girl. Do what you are told. Fit in with everyone. Look after other people. Don’t stand out. So while watching “Miss Americana” this week, the Netflix documentary about Taylor Swift, I was strangely reassured to discover that even this global superstar feels the same pressure. The pressure to be a good girl. To not speak out. She has felt this in a way that has paralysed her and left someone with millions of fans, feeling isolated and alone.
The pressure to be good can squash you into living a smaller life. It can stop you speaking up when you have an idea or when you see something that is wrong. Scarily, it can become second nature despite your best intentions. At one point in Miss Americana, Taylor sees herself saying sorry to the camera for speaking her mind and then gets angry at herself for saying sorry. Lana Wilson, the Director, can be heard off camera recognising the contradiction “It’s because we are trained to say sorry”. “Yeah, we legitimately are” acknowledges Taylor.
Being a parent makes me even more aware of this and I actively look for other words to use to praise or encourage my daughter. I remember that when she was at primary school I used to send her off with the words “Be brave, be kind and learn lots”. I had to work hard to re-wire my brain on this as “Be good” was kind of the default phrase that just rolled off my tongue. But I actively worked on it and still do today.
The good news from “Miss Americana” is that I feel like this is the beginning of a new era for Taylor as she has found her voice and the confidence to be true to it. Bring it on! Being a good girl is over rated. We can seek inspiration in the words of Taylor herself – “Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake. Shake It off, Shake It off”
Full Disclosure. I am a Taylor Swift fan (we call ourselves “Swifties” 😊) from way back. Miss Americana provides a unique perspective on Taylor and is a must watch for especially those who want to find and use their voice. Plus you get to see how epic her concerts are, how loyal her fans are and how many photographers wait outside her door every day. Thank you Taylor Swift for being my guiding light, rocking my kitchen with your poems and bringing me so much joy.