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“I don’t care if it’s not cool to be nice. I’ve never focused on being cool”

She’s one of the most popular female musicians in the world, but also one of the quietest. As Taylor Swift continues her ascent, her ability to merge dogged determination with strength and dignity is making her an icon not just for powerful pop, but for girl power

Taylor Swift

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There’s a searing honesty to Taylor Swift’s lyrics on her latest single, Delicate, from her sixth studio album Reputation: ‘This ain’t for the best; my reputation’s never been worse; so you must like me for me.’ Always observant, with a skill for taking the criticism aimed at her and transforming it into three-minute packages of pop dynamite, Swift has a rare and acute sense of self, and it’s played an invaluable role in keeping her at the top of her game. But, the question is, why does a woman with such a lucrative career, who is talented, courageous and with arguably the highest profile in pop music, have such animosity consistently levelled at her? In short: why is her reputation even up for discussion?

‘I’ve been in the public eye since I was 15 years old’, writes the singer in a heartfelt letter included in copies of the album. ‘On the beautiful, lovely side of that I’ve been so lucky to make music for a living and look out into crowds of loving, vibrant people. On the other, my mistakes have been used against me, my heartbreaks have been used as entertainment, and my songwriting has been trivialised as “oversharing”.’

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