The new Taylor Swift documentary, Miss Americana, is officially streaming on Netflix. And if you think you know everything there is to know about the singer, well, you're probably wrong. The film, directed by Lana Wilson, gives fans unprecedented access to the life of a woman who has been on a meteoric rise since she was a teenage country sensation.
The film includes adorable home videos of a young Swift opening up her first guitar and performing for small crowds and the moment she saw her song "Tim McGraw" hit the Billboard charts. Along with fun tidbits—like the phase when she wrote in her diaries with a quill and ink and how she wears "party shoes" in the recording studio—we also get more insight into how the 2009 Kanye VMAs incident shaped her, her struggle with an eating disorder, and why she finally decided to voice her political opinions.
Here are some of our favorite moments from Taylor Swift's Miss Americana.
She spent her whole life trying to be a ‘‘good girl.”
Swift talks a lot throughout the film about her core belief system based on "a need to be thought of as good." She says, "I was so fulfilled by approval, that that was it. I became the person who everyone wanted me to be." It's what kept her from speaking out at times, and it's why some of the backlash affected her so deeply.
The 2009 VMAs incident with Kanye West was formative.
We all know what happened by now: West interrupted Swift's VMAs acceptance speech to sing the praises of Beyoncé. It's led to a "narrative" around Swift that she has specifically asked to "be excluded from," even though, at times, she has waded into it. But the memory of that night is still so strong and you can tell it affected her deeply.
"It was so echo-y in there," she says. "At the time I didn't know they were booing him doing that. I thought they were booing me. For someone who's built their whole belief system on getting people to clap for you, the whole crowd booing is a pretty formative experience. That was sort of a catalyst for a lot of psychological paths that I went down. And not all of them were beneficial. It was all fueled by not feeling like I belonged there. I'm only here because I work hard and I'm nice to people. That work ethic, like, thank God I had that work ethic. Like, I can't change what's going to happen to me, but I can control what I write."
Even when she was at the top, something was missing.
"That was it—my life had never been better," she says of the time around 1989 when she won Album of the Year at the Grammys for the second time. "That was all you wanted. That was all you focused on.... You get to the mountaintop and you look around and you're like, 'Oh God, what now?' I didn't have a partner that I'd climbed it with that I could high-five. I didn't have anyone I could talk to who could relate to.... I had my mom, but I just wondered, Shouldn't I have someone that I could call right now?"
Taylor Swift didn't eat burritos until a few years ago.
We learn this revelation while Swift is working in the studio. "I didn't ever eat burritos until like, two, years ago. I just had never tried one," she says to her producer, who remarks, "That's the weirdest niche thing." That's the truth, but happily we see them dive into some delicious-looking burritos and learn that Swift likes to add chips to hers "for crunch."
She says she’s not ready for kids.
Or at least she wasn't as she was recording Reputation. "There's a part of me that feels like I'm 57 years old, but another part of me that's, like, definitely not ready to have kids, not ready for all this grown-up stuff," she says. "I kind of don't really have the luxury of just figuring stuff out because my life is planned, like, two years ahead of time. In two months they'll come to me with the dates for the next tour."
Her relationship with her mom is so endearing.
Andrea Swift appears in much of the film, and the singer talks about how hard her mom's cancer diagnosis was for her as they ride on a private plane with the "cancer dog" Mrs. Swift bought after she heard the news. "She got cancer several years ago. That has been really hard for me because she is my favorite person," Swift says. "It woke me up from this life where I used to sweat all these things, but, like, do you really care if the internet doesn't like you today if you're mom's sick from her chemo. You gotta be able to really prioritize what matters to you. For me, it's my family and my friends."
We then get a glimpse of family dinner at the Swift house and it looks amazing.
Taylor puts ice in her white wine.
Honestly, she's never been more relatable to me, as I do this at times as well. During a quiet dinner at home with her longtime BFF, Abigail, Swift switches from red to white wine as the red was "too adult for me." And then they both load their glasses up with ice as they discuss the mundane routine of a mutual friend who just had a baby.
She’s struggled with an eating disorder.
In an extremely revealing portion of Miss Americana, the singer talks about her relationship with food and how disordered it has been in the past due to societal and industry pressures about appearance.
"I've learned over the years that it's not good for me to see pictures of myself every day because I have a tendency, and it's only happened a few times and I'm not in any way proud of it, but I tend to get triggered by something whether it's a picture of me where I feel like my tummy was too big or like someone said I looked pregnant or something, and that will just trigger me to starve a little bit. Just stop eating," she reveals. "I thought that I was just supposed to feel like I was going to pass out at the end of a show or in the middle of it. I thought that was how it was. But now I realize, no, if you eat food, have energy, get stronger, you can do all these shows and not feel it, which is a really good revelation."
Swift is in a much better place now. "Because I'm a lot happier with who I am," she says. "I don't care as much if, like, somebody points out that I have gained weight. It's just something that makes my life better, the fact that I'm a size 6 instead of a size 00. I mean, that wasn't how my body was supposed to be. I just didn't really understand that at the time. I don't think I knew it. I would have defended it to anyone who said, 'I'm concerned about you.' Of course I eat. It's totally normal. I just exercise a lot. And I did exercise a lot, but I wasn't eating. I don't think you know you're doing that when you're doing it gradually. There's always some standard of beauty that you're not meeting. Because if you're thin enough, then you don't have that ass that everybody wants, but if you have enough weight on you to have an ass, then you're stomach isn't flat enough. It's all just fucking impossible. You don't ever say to yourself, I've got an eating disorder, but you're making a list of everything you put in your mouth that day and you know that's probably not right, but there are so many diet blogs that tell you that's what you should do."
The backlash hurt her.
After the controversy surrounding West's song "Famous," and the lyrics that called her a "bitch," followed by Kim Kardashian West's release of tapes that appeared to show Swift giving approval for the song, there was a massive backlash against Swift. And she felt it deeply. "When people decided I was wicked and evil and conniving and not a good person," she says, "that was the one that I couldn't really bounce back from because my whole life was centered around it. She remarks about how many people have to be tweeting they hate you for #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty to be the number one trend on Twitter worldwide.
"We're people who got into this life because we wanted people to like us, because we were intrinsically insecure," she says in an emotional conversation with her mom. "Because we liked the sound of people clapping because it made us forget about how much we feel like we're not good enough. And I've been doing this for 15 years and I'm tired. I'm just tired of the...it feels like it's more than music now. Most days I'm okay, but...it just gets loud sometimes."
And so she dropped out of the public eye. "When people fall out of love with you, there's nothing you can do to make them change their mind," she says. "They just don't love you anymore. I just wanted to disappear. Nobody physically saw me for a year, and that was what I thought they wanted."
Swift says she felt bitter and like "a wounded animal lashing out," so she had to "deconstruct an entire belief system for my own personal sanity."
Joe Alwyn was really important during that time.
"I also was falling in love with someone who had a really wonderfully normal, balanced, grounded life," she reveals. "And we decided together that we wanted our relationship to be private." We do get to see Swift sweetly mouth "I love you" to Alwyn as he films her singing "Call It What You Want" on her guitar at home. We also get some PDA as she comes off the stage at one of her shows and she runs to him as they embrace. "Even though it was really horrible, I was happy," she says. "But I wasn't happy in the way I was trained to be happy. It was happiness without anyone else's input. It's, just, we were happy."
Taylor has a cat backpack.
Like, a backpack that literally holds a cat. The photo says it all.
A stalker broke into her apartment.
AND SLEPT IN HER BED! The beyond-creepy revelation comes as she's recording "Me!" with Brendan Urie in the studio. Her dealings with stalkers also inform her decision to speak out politically against Marsha Blackburn, who voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.
Her decision to get politically involved was not supported by everyone on her team.
We get even more insight into Swift's thought process behind why she didn't speak out politically in the past and why she chose to do so ahead of the 2018 midterms. Swift talks about how much she cares about her home state of Tennessee and how much she realizes the state was a factor in those midterms. In the documentary she explains that one of the things that really bothered her about conservative Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn was that she voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act as well as against gay marriage. "I think I'll be really upset if people think that Tennessee stands for those things," she says.
"Part of the fabric of being a country artist is: Don't force your politics on people," she says. "Let people live their lives. That is grilled into us." She discusses how much what happened to the Dixie Chicks when they spoke out against President George W. Bush was impressed upon her. "But a nice girl doesn't force her opinions on people. A nice girl smiles and waves and says thank you. A nice girl doesn't make people uncomfortable with her views. I was so obsessed with not getting in trouble that I'm just not going to do anything that anyone can say something about."
Even her dad wasn't sure she should get politically active, but Swift stands strong in an emotional discussion about how this could hurt her brand and her ticket sales. But she wants to be on the "right side of history."
"Back in the presidential election, I was in such a horrendous place that I wasn't going to pop my hand out of the sand for anything," she explains. But she doesn't want to be that person again. We get to see the moment when she hits send on her first political post with her mom and longtime publicist, Tree Paine, by her side. They toast with, what else, white wine.
"I want to love glitter and also stand up for the double standards that exist in our society," the singer says later in the film. "I want to wear pink and tell you how I feel about politics. I don't think those things have to cancel each other out."
Her sexual assault trial changed her forever.
Swift discusses her groping case and the lasting effects it has had on her. "I was angry that I had to be there. I was angry that this happens to women. I was angry that people are paid to antagonize victims. I was angry that all the details had been twisted," she says. "You don't feel any sense of victory when you win because the process is so dehumanizing. This is with seven witnesses and a photo. What happens when you get raped and it's your word against his?"
"I couldn't really stop thinking about it and I thought to myself, Next time there is any opportunity to change anything, you had better know what you stand for and what you want to say," she continues.
Her new song "Only the Young" was inspired by her political hopes for the future after the 2018 midterms.
"We have to build on what started here," her mom says when news of Blackburn's win upsets her. Swift wants young people to not lose hope and to play a part in politics as more voters turn 18 ahead of 2020. She talks about Beto O'Rourke's and Stacy Abrams's failed 2018 bids, but she says that we can still "run from fascism." That's where "Only the Young" was born. She feels good about "not feeling muzzled anymore," and she has "educated herself now." She adds, it's "time to take the masking tape off of my mouth, but forever."
Age is something she thinks about a lot.
Swift is very conscious of the double standard women in music face as they age, remarking that female artists have to reinvent themselves so many more times than male artists "or else you're out of a job."
"Be new to us, be young to us—but only in a new way and only the way we want," she says. "Reinvent yourself but only in a way that we find to be equally comforting and a challenge for you. Live out a narrative that we find interesting enough to entertain us, but not so crazy that it makes us uncomfortable."
"This is probably one of my last opportunities as an artist to grasp on to that kind of success, so I don't know. As I'm reaching 30, I want to work really hard, um, while society is still tolerating me being successful."
She thinks she was frozen at the age she got famous.
Swift brings up the old adage that celebrities are frozen at the age they got famous, and she thinks that applied to her for a long time. "I had a lot of growing up to do to catch up to 29," she says. But she feels like she's in a really good place now. "I want to still have a sharp pen, a thick skin, and an open heart."
Taylor does a mean manicure.
While she's doing Todrick Hall's nails pre-VMAs, he asks her how long she's been doing manis. "About a year, when I realized I really love having cute nails but I really can't go in public.... Give me a good review on Yelp."
Miss Americana is currently streaming on Netflix.
Originally Appeared on Glamour