It Was You- Girlhood, The Grammys, & Taylor Swift

I  just want to say to all the young women out there, there are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame.” When I first came across this video I knew the words seemed very familiar. If you had watched the 2016 Grammy Awards you would recognize them from Taylor Swift’s Album of the Year acceptance speech, yet they prove to be even more powerful coming from the mouths of six or seven very different young girls. The commercial for the 2017 Grammy’s depicts each girl reciting a line of the speech as she gets ready to perform on stage or plays an instrument or dribbles a basketball. While the Grammy Awards use Taylor’s speech as an advertisement for the show, it says so much more to young girls about success, strength, and girlhood.

Girlhood is described by Jacqueline Reed-Walsh in her Keywords essay as an “elusive term.” This is because girlhood can be represented and interpreted in many different ways from a state of being to a time frame in a girl’s life. What struck me the most was how in the video “It Was You” girlhood is seen very strongly as a symbol of solidarity and determination. It presents young girls with the notion that it is not just about doing what one is told and accepting society’s expectations. It also encompasses the overarching idea that girlhood is different for everyone yet there is something about girlhood that connects us. It brings girls together to unify us, to embrace our differences, and to show our strength.

Much like characters such as Kirsten and Kaya of the American Girl series, the video encourages the questioning of societal ideals and forging one’s own path. Kirsten doesn’t allow her family’s view of the Native Americans to discourage her from having a meaningful relationship with Singing Bird. Kaya fights to be entrusted with responsibility and gain the respect of those around her, such as Swan Circling, an influential woman of the tribe. She never gives up even though the other children tease her and is rewarded for her courage in the end. The girls in the video mirror Kaya and Kirsten in the sense that they don’t let outside influence deter them from reaching their goals. They further prove that girls CAN do anything they set their minds to.

At the end of the video, the message changes a bit to remind the viewer of the power within being fearless, hardworking, and strong willed. “But, if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you, someday when you get where you’re going you’ll look around and you will know that it was you and the people who love you who put you there. And that will be the greatest feeling in the world. Thank you for this moment.”

5 thoughts on “It Was You- Girlhood, The Grammys, & Taylor Swift”

  1. Taylor Swift is a largely successful young woman and is viewed by many people as an empowering role model for young girls to look up to. The fact that she, too, faces people who try to undercut her accomplishments (and may I add in a very public way *cough cough Kanye*) just goes to show that no matter who you are or how successful or hardworking you are, people will still try to cut you down. I think this makes Taylor an even more important woman in society, and an even better role model for this reason: her speech, and now this ad, shows young girls that it is not what happens to you in life, but how you handle it, that determine who you are. And, because of that, you can be anything you want to be.

  2. Taylor Swift had very mixed reviews regarding her speech at the 2016 Grammy’s. During the Kanye “Famous” scandal last year, many people attacked her for lying in her speech to boost her popularity and image as the “innocent” one. What was lost in all this, though, was the message she was trying to get across. No matter her intentions, the words in her speech are empowering and inspiring to young girls, a fact that many media sources ignored. This video strips the words of their connection to the scandal and focuses on their true meaning, which I am happy to see being broadcasted to girls everywhere.

  3. What comes to mind when I see this and think of Taylor Swift in general is the authenticity of the messages that are being presented to us. With the whole Kimye vs Taylor debacle and other instances where Taylor Swift has thrown shade ( Katy Perry, Demi Lovato). She has been attacked for being a “fake feminist” and not really knowing what it means to be a role model of female empowerment. At the end, she is all talk and how do we even know she is the one who wrote this? Demi Lovato famously subtweeted her by writing, “Take something to Capitol Hill or actually speak out about something and then I’ll be impressed” after Taylor Swift donated money to Ke$ha. Taylor speaks out about pinning woman against each other but never follows what she preaches. I linked this to a discussion that was held in class about Mountain Wolf Woman. Why wasn’t the story more descriptive of what actually was happening? Who published this shortened version? How much of a say did they have in what made it in this version? Most things that are presented to us in the media are heavily edited to fit what a relatively small number of people think will appeal to the public. We also discussed why or why not the story of the Choctaw Girl would be a useful tool of representation, because it was written by someone who was not Native American and geared towards white church going children.

  4. I have personally always been a huge fan of Taylor Swift. In many ways, she defined my girlhood, at least musically, better than anyone else did and I feel as though I have grown up beside her. For example, seeing her flourish and begin to be vocal about standing up for other women, feminism, and equal rights in the past few years. I think it’s fitting for it to be her Grammy acceptance speech that is inspiring young girls because you said that girlhood is something that we all experience differently but also brings us together, and I think that could be said for music as well, and Taylor is an icon in the music industry. Thanks for sharing this video!

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