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Taylor Swift could build a castle with all the bricks they threw at her.
As the singer, 33, released 1989 (Taylor’s Version) on Friday, October 27 — exactly nine years after dropping the original record in 2014 — she included a prologue that reflected back on the constant backlash and scrutiny she faced from the public during that particular era of her life.
According to the full version published by Today, Swift explained that in the 1989-era, she started strictly hanging out with women after it “became clear” that she couldn’t spend time with a man or even “platonically hang out” without people assuming they were “sleeping together.”
“And so I swore off hanging out with guys. Dating, flirting, or anything that could be weaponized against me by a culture that claimed to believe in liberating women but consistently treated me with the harsh moral codes of the Victorian era,” she pens in the introduction. “I swore off dating and decided to focus only on myself, my music, my growth, and my female friendships.”
Swift remembered feeling like if she changed her behavior, she wouldn’t be scrutinized. However, the plan quickly backfired. “If I only hung out with my female friends, people couldn’t sensationalize or sexualize that right? I would learn later on that people could and people would,” she said.
She continued: “Maybe a girl who surrounds herself with female friends in adulthood is making up for a lack of them in childhood (not starting a tyrannical hot girl cult).”
Speculation that Swift was dating close pal Dianna Agron began in the early 2010s, with the Grammy winner seemingly dedicating her hit single “22” off her 2012 Red album to the Glee alum, 37, as well as longtime pals Selena Gomez, Ashley Avignone and Claire Kislinger.
Agron later denied the romance rumors during a May interview with Rolling Stone. “I mean, there have been many stories about my dating life that are so wildly untrue,” she told the outlet. “That’s funny.”
While there’s nothing inherently romantic about “22,” Agron also insisted that she didn’t serve as an inspiration for Swift’s songwriting at the time. “Me? Oh, if only! That’s more because of a friendship than being the inspiration for the song,” she explained of the dedication, which appears in the record’s secretly coded liner notes. “But I would not be the person to ask about that. I cannot claim that!”
She continued: “I think there are so many false pieces of information out there. That’s the weirdest thing that you have to learn in this industry — you don’t comment on things that are untrue, because that gives them more space. Maybe at the end of my career I’ll write a book and go into detail on everything that was very true and very untrue.”
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Another theory — often posited by “Kaylors,” a subset of Swifties who ship Swift and her one-time bestie Karlie Kloss — is that Swift and Kloss, 31, were once romantically involved, though Swift’s rep once referred to reports that the two women were caught making out as “crap” in 2014. Though Swift and Kloss appeared to have a falling out around 2016, the model attended Swift’s Los Angeles Eras Show in August with her husband, Joshua Kushner.
All of Swift’s tight-knit female friendships were a point of contention upon the initial release of 1989. At the time, people criticized the Grammy winner for forming a “superficial” group of girlfriends known as her “squad,” which was shown off in her “Bad Blood” music video — a song aimed at former nemesis Katy Perry.
In a 2019 interview with Elle, Swift explained why maintaining a fierce inner circle was so important to her at the time.
“Even as an adult, I still have recurring flashbacks of sitting at lunch tables alone or hiding in a bathroom stall, or trying to make a new friend and being laughed at,” she wrote in an essay for the outlet. “In my 20s, I found myself surrounded by girls who wanted to be my friend. So I shouted it from the rooftops, posted pictures, and celebrated my newfound acceptance into a sisterhood, without realizing that other people might still feel the way I did when I felt so alone. It’s important to address our long-standing issues before we turn into the living embodiment of them.”
Swift added that many of her friends from that time have since drifted apart, due to the changes of growing up and growing out of certain relationships.
“Something about ‘we’re in our young twenties!’ hurls people together into groups that can feel like your chosen family. And maybe they will be for the rest of your life,” she shared. “Or maybe they’ll just be your comrades for an important phase, but not forever. It’s sad but sometimes when you grow, you outgrow relationships. You may leave behind friendships along the way, but you’ll always keep the memories.”
That doesn’t mean Swift has abandoned her squad entirely. She may be more low-key in her friendships these days, but Gomez, 31, along with Blake Lively, Gigi Hadid and Sophie Turner are just a few of the A-list women she has been spotted out with in the past few years.
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