On Tuesday, Taylor Swift got personal with 55,000-plus fans in Glendale, Ariz., her first stop on the Reputation Stadium Tour.
“A couple of years ago, someone called me a snake on social media and it caught on,” Swift said. “Then a lot of people were calling me a lot of things on social media. And I went through some really low times for a while because of it. I went through some times when I didn’t know if I was going to get to do this anymore.”
Swift didn’t name names, but she was likely referencing Kim Kardashian, who famously called the singer out amid a back-and-forth between Swift and Kardashian’s husband, Kanye West.
In 2016, Swift publicly condemned West for calling her a “b—-” and taking credit for her fame in his song, “Famous.” But then Kardashian uploaded a secretly recorded phone call to Snapchat that seemed to show Swift knew about the lyrics in advance and gave her stamp of approval. Swift strongly disputed that account (the footage didn’t show West using the b-word) and called it “character assassination,” yet it was too late: The Internet branded Swift a snake.
Shortly after, Swift went underground — at least, as much as possible for an A-list star. Her disappearing act lasted until she released her latest album, “Reputation,” in November. While the album’s name and several songs appeared to address her public image taking a hit, Swift didn’t elaborate, nor did she give any interviews — she hasn’t talked to the press since the Kardashian-West situation.
But on Tuesday, she got personal.
“I wanted to send a message to you guys that if someone uses name calling to bully you on social media, and even if a lot of people jump on board with it, that doesn’t have to defeat you. It can strengthen you instead,” Swift said, as the crowd cheered. “And I think something that came out of it that was good is that I learned a really important lesson that I’ve been telling you from the stage for about 10 years, but I never had to learn it so harshly myself — and that lesson has to do with how much you value your reputation.”
She concluded: “I think that the lesson is that you shouldn’t care so much if you feel misunderstood by a lot of people who don’t know you, as long as you feel understood by the people who do know you; the people who will show up for you, the people who see you as a human being.”
And as fans started to stream out of the Arizona stadium, they were left with one final parting thought from Swift on the video screen: “In the death of her reputation, she felt truly alive.”