The video for Taylor Swift’s song Anti-Hero, the lead single from her new album Midnights, has started a huge controversy on the Internet recently as the accuse of ‘fatphobia’.
Taylor Swift and her team have quietly removed the “fat” scale scene from the “Anti-Hero” music video, the first visual from her tenth album Midnights, following some backlash.
In the original version of the music video, we see two Taylors in a bathroom: the singer and her alter ego. In the scene, the real Taylor steps on an old-fashioned scale and looks down to see her weight, which reads “FAT” in bold letters rather than numbers. Her alter ego shakes her head and gives her a disappointed look. Now this scene has disappeared.
The edit comes after some fans and commentators criticised the scale scene for perpetuating “fatphobia”. On Twitter, eating disorder therapist and body positivity blogger Shira Rosenbluth said the clip “reiterated yet again that it’s everyone’s worst nightmare to look like us,” while Teen Vogue writer Catherine Mhloyi described the scene as “lazy”: “In having the word ‘fat’ appear on the scale, she made a choice to explicitly name her demon, the fear of being called fat, which is fatphobia in its most literal sense.”
Other commentators, including Whoopi Goldberg, have come to Swift’s defence. “Just let her have her feelings – if you don’t like the song, don’t listen to it,” she said on panel show The View. “Why are you wasting your time on this? You always wanna say something about Taylor Swift – leave her ass alone.” Joy Behar added: “What’s she supposed to put on the scale, ‘plump? It doesn’t work.”
Swift editing the video is the latest instance this year of a musician changing an insensitive message in their work after it’s released. Lizzo and Beyoncé each struck an ableist word from their songs “Grrrls” and “Heated,” respectively, after advocates criticized the lyrics. “Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language,” Lizzo said in a statement at the time. Meanwhile, at least that’s one anti-hero behavior Swifties don’t have to exhaust themselves rooting for.
Upon the video’s release, many called the moment anti-fat, because of both Swift’s portrayal of being fat as a negative and the message coming from Swift, who is by all accounts not fat. (Although Swift has spoken about her struggles with body image in the past, including in the 2020 documentary Miss Americana.)
“To me, this scene isn’t just harmful because it reinforces the idea of being ‘fat’ as bad; it’s harmful because the word ‘fat’ is triggering to many of us who actually exist in these bodies,” wrote Olivia Truffaut-Wong on the Cut. Debate about the video even made its way to The View, where the hosts were in rare agreement that Swift should be allowed to use the word fat in the video. Sunny Hostin said critics “missed the point.”
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