Content warning: The article below features mentions of eating disorders, which may be triggering to some. If you or a loved one is struggling, please contact the National Eating Disorders Hotline at 800-931-2237 or visit online. Reader discretion is advised.
In addition to dropping her 10th studio album, Midnights, Taylor Swift also released two celeb-filled music videos clad with Easter eggs—“Anti-Hero” and “Bejeweled”—all within a week’s time. While the album and videos were met with praise from Swifties on social media, the 32-year-old pop culture phenomenon also faced criticism for a sensitive scene in “Anti-Hero,” which has since been removed from the video on Apple Music.
In the music video, Taylor confronts her “nightmare scenarios and intrusive thoughts” in the form of sheeted ghosts and her glitzy alter ego, who judges her every move. During a scene in the bathroom, the alter ego disapprovingly shakes her head while Taylor weighs herself on a scale that reads “Fat.” The scene, which amplified the pressures society puts on people to be thin, quickly became a conversation starter for fans online as they participated in the discourse surrounding fatphobia and eating disorders.
While most people were turned off by the scene, others sympathized with Taylor, who has previously addressed her struggles with an eating disorder. “Taylor Swift should have done better because even if it is relatable and an ‘intrusive thought,’ it is damaging and fatphobic,” one fan wrote. Another chimed in with a viewpoint regarding the mental impacts of eating disorders, writing, “It isn’t bad to be fat, and her having the scale say ‘fat’ is a radical simplification of eating disorders, especially when fat people have EDs too.”
One criticism of Taylor Swift's music video is that you don't need to be fatphobic in your description of your body image. It isn't bad to be fat, and her having the scale say "fat" is a radical simplification of eating disorders, especially when fat people have EDs too.
— auggie (@amateur_arguer) October 21, 2022
Once the short clip was removed from the video, people had mixed reactions. Some praised the Grammy-winning singer and shared that the scene still got her point across. As one fan put it, “This version does it without harming fat folk in the process.”
Taylor Swift removed the close up of the scale saying ‘FAT’ in the Anti-Hero music video on Apple Music. It got across her point just as well with it only showing her standing on the scale + being judged, this version does it without harming fat folk in the process.👏🏻 #Midnights pic.twitter.com/5IoLetcPSD
— Leah 🏳️🌈 (@hutchleah) October 26, 2022
I think editing out the word “fat” was the perfect example of how we balance talking about EDs and fatphobia. Taylor didn’t remove the entire scene. That would be an entirely different conversation. She removed a brief clip that many found hurtful. IMO, the message remains.
— Meet Sav at Midnight 🌙🕰 (@SavLovesSwift) October 26, 2022
Others criticized Taylor, who has yet to publicly acknowledge the scene and the harm it may have caused. “Okay, great. Taylor removed the image in the video on one single platform, but she’s yet to address it verbally OR address the fact that millions of fans have [and] are still attacking fat people in her name,” another person wrote. “The impact the image had cannot be erased as easily as the image itself.”
In her 2020 documentary, Miss Americana, Taylor spoke about her personal experience with her body image as a public figure. “It’s not good for me to see pictures of myself every day,” she said in the documentary. “It’s only happened a few times, and I’m not in any way proud of it. A picture of me where I feel like I looked like my tummy was too big or…someone said that I looked pregnant…and that’ll just trigger me to just starve a little bit—just stop eating.”
At the time of this report, the scene is still included in the music video uploaded to Taylor Swift’s YouTube channel and has yet to be removed or publicly addressed by the singer.
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