“Unfortunately in the 2016 election you had a political opponent who was weaponizing the idea of the celebrity endorsement,” Swift, 29, told Vogue’s all-important September issue, noticeably omitting President Trump’s name. “He was going around saying, I’m a man of the people. I’m for you. I care about you.’ I just knew I wasn’t going to help.”
Other stars, including Swift’s nemesis-turned-pal Katy Perry, Demi Lovato and more endorsed the Democratic candidate. However, the country–pop singer says it wasn’t just her celebrity that kept her mum — it was her specific reputation.
“Also, you know, the summer before that election, all people were saying was, ‘She’s calculated. She’s manipulative. She’s not what she seems. She’s a snake. She’s a liar,'” Swift recalled of her own reputation in the latter half of 2016. “These are the same exact insults people were hurling at Hillary. Would I be an endorsement or would I be a liability? ‘Look, snakes of a feather flock together. Look, the two lying women. The two nasty women.’ Literally millions of people were telling me to disappear. So I disappeared. In many senses.”
Swift did, indeed, go underground for a significant period of time following the summer of 2016, when her then-seven-year (coming up on decade-long) feud with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian came to a head when Kardashian released video of Swift on the phone with West discussing his song, “Famous,” in which he mentions her name. Swift appeared to give her blessing to the track in the clips Kardashian released, but has steadfastly and vehemently denied approving the specific lyric “that b—h.”
Swift didn’t share much else about her beef with the couple, save to say how it affected her own life.
She doesn’t appear to assume any responsibility for potentially perpetuating the pettiness for years through her own music and actions, but did confess to learning from the ordeal.
“A mass public shaming, with millions of people saying you are quote-unquote canceled, is a very isolating experience,” the “Archer” singer said. “I don’t think there are that many people who can actually understand what it’s like to have millions of people hate you very loudly. When you say someone is ‘canceled,’ it’s not a TV show. It’s a human being. You’re sending mass amounts of messaging to this person to either shut up, disappear, or it could also be perceived as, ‘Kill yourself.’”
“I realized I needed to restructure my life because it felt completely out of control,” she admitted. “I knew immediately I needed to make music about it because I knew it was the only way I could survive it. It was the only way I could preserve my mental health and also tell the story of what it’s like to go through something so humiliating.”
Swift turned to songwriting as a means of activism as well. Recounting a time close friend Todrick Hall asked her what she’d do if she had a gay son, Swift explained that she felt like she wasn’t being clear enough on her stances for LGBTQ rights.
“Rights are being stripped from basically everyone who isn’t a straight white cisgender male. I didn’t realize until recently that I could advocate for a community that I’m not a part of,” she said. “It’s hard to know how to do that without being so fearful of making a mistake that you just freeze. Because my mistakes are very loud.”
She added, “When I make a mistake, it echoes through the canyons of the world. It’s clickbait, and it’s a part of my life story, and it’s a part of my career arc.”