In a new cover story for Variety, the “Lover” singer, 30, opened up about the emotional impact that her 19-year-old self suffered after the rapper interrupted her acceptance speech to say that he felt she didn’t deserve her award for best female video.
“As a teenager who had only been in country music, attending my very first pop awards show, somebody stood up and sent me the message: ‘You are not respected here. You shouldn’t be here on this stage,'” Swift told the magazine.
She continued: “That message was received, and it burrowed into my psyche more than anyone knew.”
“That can push you one of two ways,” she added. “I could have just curled up and decided I’m never going to one of those events ever again, or it could make me work harder than anyone expects me to, and try things no one expected, and crave that respect — and hopefully one day get it.”
Swift’s feud with West, 42 — which was reignited years later with the rapper’s song “Famous” and an edited recorded phone conversation — is chronicled in a new Netflix documentary about the pop superstar, Taylor Swift: Miss Americana, which debuts later this month.
“But then when that person who sparked all of those feelings comes back into your life,” she said, “as he did in 2015, and I felt like I finally got that respect, but then soon realized that for him it was about him creating some revisionist history where he was right all along, and it was correct, right and decent for him to get up and do that to a teenage girl.”
She added: “I don’t think too hard about this stuff now.”
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While growing from the 2009 VMAs encounter, Swift also told Variety that she has learned the time and place for politeness versus assertiveness in her life.
“I think one theme that ended up emerging in the film is what happens when you are not just a people pleaser but someone who’s always been respectful of authority figures, doing what you were supposed to do, being polite at all costs,” said Swift. “I still think it’s important to be polite, but not at all costs.”
She added: “Not when you’re being pushed beyond your limits, and not when people are walking all over you. I needed to get to a point where I was ready, able and willing to call out bulls— rather than just smiling my way through it.”
Taylor Swift: Miss Americana is available to stream on Netflix on Jan. 31.