Friday, January 16, 2015

An Open Letter To Taylor Swift Whom My Daughter Loves

Dear Taylor,

Thank you so much for being you.  Seriously.  I used to consider myself a super-fan.  But then I heard all these wonderful stories of your real super-fans and I think I may have been knocked down a few notches.  I still considered myself a very devout fan.  But then my daughter Caroline discovered you. And now, in Caroline's eyes, I'm not even worthy of singing along to your catchy lyrics.  
We actually had our picture made with you, Taylor, but I can no longer find it.  I could kick myself if I were still that flexible!  So this will have to do.
Taylor, I forgive you if you don't exactly remember me, but we met once.  It was on September 11, 2009 in Birmingham, AL during your Fearless tour.  Thanks to a great country radio station and some once-in-a-lifetime luck, I won VIP tickets with a backstage meet and greet.  Together with three other lucky friends this group of four lovely women (pictured above) patiently stood in line until you gave us your undivided attention and posed for a photo opp.  I shared with you how one of my favorite songs at the time was "Breathe" and that the baby growing in my big ol' belly would kick and move around while I sang the melody in my car.  We joked about how she was really trying to get me to just shut up already.  And for a brief moment you rubbed my round tummy.  That's right.  I met you backstage and then sat on the third row of your concert while 6-and-a-half months pregnant with my daughter Caroline.  
Over the next five years I have grown convinced that you infused tiny bits of yourself into my unborn daughter's spirit, and I cannot thank you enough.  She is such a challenging child to raise and I cannot thank you enough.  She makes me strive to be a better parent for her and I cannot thank you enough for so proudly and seemingly fearlessly being you.  
Concert photos (c) Laura sister-in-law who took these from our awesome seats!
Let's start with the handful of chart-topping, record-breaking albums you have penned and performed. More than once you have been criticized for only writing about one or two of the same subjects using different versions of the same story.  I don't see it that way.  Rather, I view you as someone who believes in herself so much that she is not afraid to tell the truth.  You seem to be someone who has nothing to hide and believes closeted skeletons serve no positive purpose.  Your five studio albums cover your coming of age.  You chose not to sing other people's stories; no, you strove to make your voice heard and get your emotions off your chest.  I see these qualities in my five-year-old daughter already.  When she is recapping her day; when she is listing the names of her friends, boyfriends, favorite toys; when she is rattling off her Christmas wishes, her eyes fill with delight.  She loves nothing more than to be heard.  As her mother, I want to make sure she values truth and honesty, but I would never, ever try to silence her.  
(c) Laura Chancellor
Taylor, your fashion choices, for the most part, have been spot on!  So many of your colleagues in this pop-country music industry have bought into the sex-sells notion of leaving very little to the imagination.  But not you.  You know how to dress yourself for your body style.  You always seem to look appropriate for the occasion whether it be the CMAs, Grammys, or a walk down a New York avenue.  In the past year or two, your hemlines have shortened but I fault you not. I thank you so much for showing her that too much skin is not always in.  A young woman can still feel sexy, gorgeous, desirable and modest all at once.  At five years old, my daughter has yet to succumb to peer pressure from her preschool friends regarding bows, shoes, etc.  She definitely already makes her own wardrobe choices (when I allow) and [It should be noted that five is generally on the young-end of peer pressure.]  Nevertheless, if she is going to imitate someone's outfit, I'd much rather it be yours than, say, foam fingers and nude leotards. So again I commend you for being an example my daughter can emulate.  
(c) Laura Chancellor
I would wager a bet that you are hounded by paparazzi.  If one had the means and motive, we could probably piece together entire weeks of your life caught on camera.  So where are the images of you stumbling home from a bar?  Where are your mug shots?  Where are the clips of you dog-cussing a photographer?  Do I think you drink alcohol?  Well you admitted to Barbara Walters that you do.  But in the public eye you conduct yourself like a polite young lady.  Does that make you a poser?  No way!  It makes me proud to point out your magazine images to my daughter who watches your every move.  Recently Caroline said in a sullen voice "Taylor Swift said a bad word, mommy," referring to the line in "Wildest Dreams" where you sing "He's so tall and handsome as Hell."  You know what?  I am glad that I am raising a daughter who is morally conscious enough to know that she's not allowed to say "Hell" in that context.  You're a 24-year-old woman; if you want to describe someone that way, go ahead.  I give you a pass.  After all, you're only human.  And recently you provided a great teachable moment for me to have in carpool line. 

Let's talk about Mr. Handsome.  No, I don't think you go on to many dates or stay out too late.  How else are you going to find Romeo?  How else are he and you going to have "Our (Your) Song"?  When it is convenient for you - and you have mentioned right now is not the time - I am glad that you continue to take risks and allow yourself to fall in love.  Loving a person and being loved in return is a beautiful thing.  Heartbreak, too, teaches a person a lot about herself.  
(c) Laura Chancellor
You strike me as someone who knows herself very well.  You come across as very comfortable in your own skin.  Thank you for being true to yourself and encouraging the same of your fans.  Thank you for being vigilant in your pursuit of best friends, best years, best love.  Thank you for showing your legions of fans that creativity does not equate to oddness.  That you can think outside the box all the while staying in line.  That nice girls don't always finish last.  
My ticket is signed "Emily, good luck with the baby! Taylor Swift" - I keep it in Caroline's baby book.
And finally, thank you, Taylor, for rubbing my belly five years ago and making me believe that some of your uniqueness was infused into my daughter.  While my logical self knows that Caroline's spirit was God-given, not Swift-given, thank you for turning out (so far) the way you did.  You inspire me as a mother to not give up. She's hard-headed.  She's loud.  She walks to her own beat.  She's fierce.  She's funny.  She's imaginative.  She's brave.  She's fearless.  I would believe a young Pennsylvanian Taylor to be described the same way.

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