A Reflection on the Anti-Hero Music Video Controversy


Ellie Petrick, Editor

On October 21, fans of Taylor Swift found themselves sleep deprived after staying up until 12 a.m. ET to listen to the artist’s new album, Midnights. Then, three hours later, Swift would release a surprise deluxe version of the album, called Midnights (3 a.m. Edition). The next release of the day would be the first music video for the album, one for the song Anti-Hero. Unexpectedly, the music video would spark controversy. 

At 2:03 in the original version of the music video, Swift would step onto a scale. The scale would then, rather than a number, say she was “fat”. At which point, another Swift would look on disapprovingly, shaking her head in disappointment. This scene garnered mixed reactions from Taylor Swift fans and nonfans alike. 

Many were calling the scene fatphobic, taking issue with being fat being portrayed negatively. This was disappointing and angering to many people, especially fans of Swift who had found solace in her music. However, some argue that the scene was more complex than fatphobia.

“While I do understand the backlash of the scene from the public, I feel that much of it was based on a lack of education about the purpose of the scene.” Said senior Molly Olsen. “It was not a blatant act of fatphobia as it was taken to be, [but] rather a nod to the struggle of eating disorders and body dysmorphia.” 

Taylor Swift has not kept her struggle with her eating disorder a secret. In the 2020 Netflix documentary Miss Americana, Swift revealed her struggle and how she has worked to move past that time in her life. Anti-Hero was a clear attempt at portraying that struggle with her music. 

“I really don’t think I’ve delved this far into my insecurities in this detail before,” said Swift in a Behind-The-Scenes video on her Instagram, talking about Anti-Hero. Body image is something many people struggle with, whether it escalates into an eating disorder or not. It’s impossible to know what Swift was thinking when she included the scene, but with the rest of the song being so personal, it’s not a stretch to say she might’ve included this to allude to her experiences. 

It’s no secret that Taylor Swift writes vulnerable, personal songs. She has spoken on the track five of each of her albums, noting that each track is one of the most vulnerable songs on the album. Although Anti-Hero isn’t a track five, it is vulnerable in a way she has come to be known for. Fans have come to look forward to these songs. “Those songs are written as a way to portray complicated feelings, and to help more people feel validated in complicated situations,” said Olsen. Anti-Hero is just one song of many that Swift has used to share what she has struggled with. 

The Anti-Hero music video being used to portray one of Swift’s struggles doesn’t mean it is automatically a perfect scene. Everyone has the right to interpret art in their own way. However, that doesn’t change the possible reasoning behind the inclusion of the scene. The fact of the matter is that there’s plenty of information to say that this scene was not made for simple hate.

You can watch the Anti-Hero music video here.