- Critics are calling on Taylor Swift to edit a scene out of a music video, arguing it’s fatphobic.
- The controversial “Anti-Hero” clip showed Swift standing on a scale with the word “fat” on it.
- Some say it’s offensive, even though Swift admitted to struggling with body-image issues in the past.
Activists and health professionals are calling on Taylor Swift to change a scene in the music video for her new song “Anti-Hero,” arguing it’s fatphobic and damaging to people living with eating disorders.
Swift released the video alongside her latest album, “Midnights,” on October 21.
The clip depicts Swift standing on a scale with the word “fat” appearing where the measurements should be while she sings, “I stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror.” The camera then pans to Swift looking at a second version of herself, who shakes her head.
On the day of the video’s release, Swift posted a tweet saying that the video represented her “nightmare scenarios and intrusive thoughts.”
As Rebecca Jennings, Shira Tarlo, and Gabriela Fernandez of Vox noted, the song references Swift’s “insecurities and self-loathing,” and the scene featuring a scale appears to be part of her insecurity about weight — which Swift has previously spoken about.
It has sparked controversy on social media as detractors argue her use of the word “fat” is harmful, while others defend her right to portray her own experience.
Critics said they think the scene promotes fatphobic narratives
One of the most viral Twitter threads calling out the scene was from Shira Rosenbluth, a social worker specializing in the treatment of disordered eating and Instagrammer who identifies as “fat positive.”
“Taylor Swift’s music video, where she looks down at the scale where it says ‘fat,’ is a shitty way to describe her body image struggles. Fat people don’t need to have it reiterated yet again that it’s everyone’s worst nightmare to look like us,” she wrote in a tweet on October 21 that has received over 40,000 likes.
Rosenbluth’s viral Twitter thread ended with, “Having an eating disorder doesn’t excuse fatphobia. It’s not hard to say, ‘I’m struggling with my body image today’ instead of I’m a fat, disgusting pig.”
—Shira Rose (@theshirarose) October 21, 2022
Several people echoed the sentiment, saying the scene is damaging because it reiterates the negative connotations around the word “fat,” which have historically led to the discrimination of people who live in larger bodies.
Criticism of Swift has also emerged on TikTok, where various videos highlighting similar concerns have garnered hundreds of thousands of views.
Erin Phillips, a registered dietitian licensed in Washington state, told Insider, “Taylor saying that her worst nightmares or intrusive thoughts is the scale saying she is fat is incredibly damaging to actual fat people. She’s saying, ‘I feel terrible when my body feels the way your body is.’ The message she is sending, especially to her young fans in larger bodies, is so so hurtful.”
Representatives for Swift did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Swift’s history with disordered eating has led some to argue for a more sympathetic take
Swift previously spoke about her struggles with disordered eating, talking in the 2020 documentary “Miss Americana” about being triggered to “just starve a little bit” when she saw pictures of herself.
In an interview with Variety in 2020, she said, “My relationship with food was exactly the same psychology that I applied to everything else in my life: If I was given a pat on the head, I registered that as good. If I was given a punishment, I registered that as bad.”
Swift also revealed that she had issues with under-eating during her tour for the album “Reputation” in 2018.
“If you think any time people with an eating disorder speak about their issues it’s fatphobic, you’re facilitating the idea that people shouldn’t talk about it,” read one tweet, which received 133 likes.
Serena Nangia of Project Heal, a nonprofit that advocates equitable treatment access for eating disorders, told Insider she’s “not surprised” that Swift’s fear of being perceived as “fat” would be displayed in a song about her insecurities.
Nangia stressed how crucial it is that people with experience of disordered eating are able to “express what they’re feeling without judgment.” However, she added, “We also believe it’s important that thin people in conversations about fatphobia and disordered eating hold an awareness of the impact they have when depicting common struggles over fears of gaining weight.”
People are calling on Swift to change the video following the backlash
Many fans have urged Swift to apologize for the video. Some have likened Swift to Lizzo and Beyoncé, who both apologized and removed lyrics from their songs after they were criticized for being ableist.
Phillips, the registered dietitian, told Insider she does not “blame” Swift for the imagery, but she hopes she’ll “listen to feedback from the eating disorder and fat communities (much of which overlap) and consider changing the video.”
For more stories like this, check out coverage from Insider’s Digital Culture team here.