For years, Taylor Swift chose to stay quiet regarding politics. Her neutral stance resulted in plenty of backlash — from fans, colleagues, and even Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor — especially following Donald Trump’s win in 2016.
Things changed last fall, however, when just one month before the game-changing midterm elections, Swift finally broke that silence. In a lengthy Instagram post, the pop singer voiced her support for two Democratic politicians running in her home state of Tennessee. She also urged her fans to follow suit by showing up to the polls on Election Day.
Trump unsurprisingly took issue with Swift’s post and responded with a petty comment about her music. For Swift, though, it turns out the statement was just the tip of the iceberg.
In a new feature for Elle about turning 30 years old, Swift said that although she is still working on “finding my voice” in terms of the issues, she intends to use her public platform to be more politically active.
“I took a lot of time educating myself on the political system and the branches of government that are signing off on bills that affect our day-to-day life,” wrote Swift. “I saw so many issues that put our most vulnerable citizens at risk, and felt like I had to speak up to try and help make a change.”
“Only as someone approaching 30 did I feel informed enough to speak about it to my 114 million followers,” the Reputation star continued, before taking a jab at Trump. “Invoking racism and provoking fear through thinly veiled messaging is not what I want from our leaders, and I realized that it actually is my responsibility to use my influence against that disgusting rhetoric.”
She closed by saying, “I’m going to do more to help. We have a big race coming up next year.”
Elsewhere in the Elle feature, Swift detailed other interesting tidbits she’s learned in the years leading up to 30. Some were fairly trivial (cocktail and dinner party recipes), but a few excerpts touched on heavy subjects like body positivity, misogyny, sexual assault, and violence.
On body image:
I’ve learned that society is constantly sending very loud messages to women that exhibiting the physical signs of aging is the worst thing that can happen to us. These messages tell women that we aren’t allowed to age. It’s an impossible standard to meet…”
On violence and stalkers:
After the Manchester Arena bombing and the Vegas concert shooting, I was completely terrified to go on tour this time because I didn’t know how we were going to keep 3 million fans safe over seven months. There was a tremendous amount of planning, expense, and effort put into keeping my fans safe. My fear of violence has continued into my personal life. I carry QuikClot army grade bandage dressing, which is for gunshot or stab wounds. Websites and tabloids have taken it upon themselves to post every home address I’ve ever had online. You get enough stalkers trying to break into your house and you kind of start prepping for bad things. Every day I try to remind myself of the good in the world, the love I’ve witnessed and the faith I have in humanity. We have to live bravely in order to truly feel alive, and that means not being ruled by our greatest fears.
On sexual assault:
It’s my opinion that in cases of sexual assault, I believe the victim. Coming forward is an agonizing thing to go through. I know because my sexual assault trial was a demoralizing, awful experience. I believe victims because I know firsthand about the shame and stigma that comes with raising your hand and saying “This happened to me.” It’s something no one would choose for themselves. We speak up because we have to, and out of fear that it could happen to someone else if we don’t.
Read the full essay here.