The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

“Girlhood” by Taylor Swift

Molly Parker

Taylor Swift has been teaching me life’s biggest lessons since I first listened to her “Fearless” album on a little pink CD player as a six year old.

My girlhood was shaped by Taylor Swift.

I’m not alone, either: around 53% of adults today say they are fans of Swift, with 16% identifying themselves as avid “Swifties,” according to a March 14 Forbes article.

Since my Fearless-sparked epiphany, I have been following each of her albums, song releases and tours. Spotify congratulates me each year on being in her top 0.5% of listeners, although I’m not sure how exclusive that is anymore.

Each of her albums focuses on a different era of her life and career, encompassing a different feeling, experience or, often, a different kind of heartbreak. 

Although a handful of her songs are deemed simple pop hits for radio, Taylor Swift’s songs are powerful, inclusive and diverse exhibitions of what it means to grow up and experience life as a girl in today’s world.

Throughout the years of singing in the car with friends and blasting “Love Story” at my summer camp’s waterfront, the life lessons I have learned through her lyrics are invaluable. 

Growing up as a girl alongside Taylor Swift and the growth of her music has been crucial to my confidence, passion and motivation for success. She is a prime modern example for young female empowerment.

“The Man,” for example, discusses her journey as a young woman in the music industry, exposing the disadvantages that women face in the workplace. 

As a young girl who has long aspired to work in medicine—a male-dominated field—this song resonates with me.

Additionally, “Mad Woman” from her album Folklore talks about how women are often gaslit into believing they’re crazy for simply stating an opinion. When she’s passionate about something, she’s mad, and no one likes a “mad woman.” 

This speaks to girls as a voice of reason behind their opinions. It encourages them to speak up and speak out.

Another one of my personal favorites is “Nothing New” featuring Phoebe Bridgers. The duet discusses losing confidence in yourself as you grow up and the world starts to change—especially in the context of the conflicting pressures and expectations adolescent women face. 

The first verse specifically mentions how young girls are encouraged to “go out and have your fun,” but when they do so, they are faced with slutshaming and criticism about trying too hard.

Even her radio hits convey pieces of lyrical advice to her audience, like telling them to just “Shake It Off” or that you can prove your “Mean” childhood bullies wrong. 

Girlhood is hard. It’s finding yourself, feeling new things and having new experiences. Whether I find solace in her lyrics or through singing my heart out with friends, Swift’s music has always been there to guide me when I’m feeling lost.

Girls of all ages can feel heard by Swift, and that comes from the versatility and relatability of her lyrics. 

Our generation’s girlhood was shaped by Taylor Swift, and her influence has been for the better.



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About the Contributor
Molly Parker
Molly Parker, Illustrations Editor
(She/her) Molly Parker is a senior studio art and anthropology double major from Hopedale, Mass. She had been a member of the illustrations team since the spring of 2020 before becoming editor of the section in the spring of 2023. Molly also creates prints and zines that she displays in the Burlington area as well as her hometown. Apart from illustrating and creating art, she loves watching horror movies, cooking and crocheting. Email [email protected] to get in contact with Molly.