Taylor Swift has changed her music video after facing backlash from some of her fans for a scene in her new music video, "Anti-Hero," which showed the pop star on a scale that read "fat."
The song's music video, from her tenth studio album, "Midnights," which was released on Oct. 21, opens on Swift eating alone at a table. She realizes she's being haunted by ghosts — clad in sunglasses over vintage sheets — and as she runs away, another version of herself knocks at the door.
Swift spends time with the other "Taylor" throughout the video, engaging in self destructive behavior like taking shots and drinking from a wine bottle on the roof.
"It's me, hi, I'm the problem," she sings in the chorus. "At tea time, everybody agrees. I'll stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror, it must be exhausting always rooting for the anti-hero."
After the music video dropped, many creators took to social media to accuse the singer of being insensitive due to one, nine-second scene in the music video which shows Swift standing on a scale.
The old-fashioned scale turns to show her weight, which displays just the word “FAT,” as her evil twin looks over her shoulder disapprovingly.
By Oct. 26, the music video on both Apple Music and Youtube had been edited to remove the close up shot of the scale and the offending word.
"Being fat is not a bad thing and in five seconds of your music video you have successfully reinforced the idea that it is," one TikTok influencer, Reyna Cohan, says in her now-viral video, adding that she understands Swift has struggled with disordered eating in the past.
"But that does not give her permission to perpetuate a really harmful f---ing narrative," Cohan continues. "Fat is not a feeling! And feeling fat or fearing being fat or not liking the way you look...does not mean that you deal with the systemic issues that actual fat people actually deal with."
"We need to talk about the word 'fat' on the scale," Kayley Alissa said in her response on TikTok. "When I saw that this morning, it made it very clear that Taylor has never thought to or doesn't care to listen to plus-size people."
"We have been screaming for years asking people to stop saying that you feel fat," she continued. "When your biggest fear is that you are fat, that is literally fatphobia."
In a tweet, Jenny L. Howe wrote the scene is "an example of how insidious and casual fatphobia is."
"Saying having a body like mine is one of your biggest fears further dehumanizes me and my body," Howe concluded. "Further suggests it’s undesirable."
"Taylor Swift’s music video, where she looks down at the scale where it says 'fat,' is a s---ty way to describe her body image struggles," Shira Rose tweeted. "Fat people don’t need to have it reiterated yet again that it’s everyone’s worst nightmare to look like us."
What is fatphobia?
The Boston Medical Center defines fatphobia as "the implicit and explicit bias of overweight individuals that is rooted in a sense of blame and presumed moral failing."
The center's definition notes that being overweight is "highly stigmatized in Western Culture" and that "anti-fatness is intrinsically linked to anti-blackness, racism, classism, misogyny, and many other systems of oppression."
Swift on her own history of disordered eating
Swift has long been open about her struggles with disordered eating and mentions it elsewhere on the "Midnights" album.
"I hosted parties and starved my body," she sings in another song, "You're on Your Own Kid."
In the 2020 documentary "Miss Americana," Swift spends several minutes discussing her eating disorder.
"I tend to get triggered by something — whether it's a picture of me where I feel like I looked like my tummy looked too big or like someone said I looked pregnant or something, and that will just trigger me to starve a little bit, just stop eating," she said in the film, adding she was "not proud of it in any way."
In an interview with Variety from around the same time, she said that it had been difficult for her to bring up her issues with food in the film but she felt like it was time to talk about it — however inelegantly.
"But all I know is my own experience. And my relationship with food was exactly the same psychology that I applied to everything else in my life: If I was given a pat on the head, I registered that as good. If I was given a punishment, I registered that as bad,” she told the outlet, recalling a time one tabloid suggested she was pregnant at the age of 18 because of a certain outfit she'd worn.
"I think I’ve never really wanted to talk about that before, and I’m pretty uncomfortable talking about it now... But in the context of every other thing that I was doing or not doing in my life, I think it makes sense."
Swift's representation declined to comment on the record when reached by TODAY for comment on Oct. 21, and had not responded to a follow up request for comment after the music video was changed on Oct. 26.
In defense of Swift
Many people also came to the defense of Swift following the backlash.
Jill Stoddard, a clinical psychologist and the author of "Be Mighty: A Woman’s Guide to Liberation from Anxiety, Worry, and Stress Using Mindfulness and Acceptance," told TODAY the imagery of the music video would only be "powerful when taken out of context."
"Taylor is creating commentary about our inner critics — we are our own worst enemies and need to notice when unhelpful narratives arise and not act on them or let them drive us," she said in a text to TODAY.
Many people online also defended the pop star, writing that in their opinion, accusing people with eating disorders of fatphobia is unfair.
"As a fat person who has struggled with eating disorders, i think accusing people with EDs of fatphobia based on the way *they see themselves* is beyond ridiculous," @lagunabayfables wrote on Twitter. "Society collectively needs to unlearn fatphobia so blaming (people) with eating disorders is wild."
In a follow up "stitch" video with Cohan's critique, @thegirlwithamicrophone said that while she (a self-identified "fellow fat" person) respects the original poster's opinion, she thinks her interpretation is lacking "nuance."
"For me, the scene...is commentary on Taylor's eating disorder," she says in her response. "But the important thing is context."
"Point of view in writing in art, makes a difference when it comes to the imagery and the messages that are portrayed. It's pretty clear that Taylor is not saying that the way she feels when she steps on the scale is normal, good, or healthy," she says.
"So I don't have a problem with her showing what her eating disorder sounds like to her," @thegirlwithamicrophone continues. "I personally think we have to have space for the problematic sides of ourselves and others can be portrayed in art but through a point of view that makes it clear that these are not normal or healthy."