She Said Speak Now

Scarlett
10 min readJun 30, 2023

Taylor Swift’s album Speak Now has long been thought of by fans as a whimsical fairytale. From the cover, showing her spinning in a sparkly ball gown, to the track “Enchanted,” a song that sounds straight out of Cinderella, the initial perception makes sense. But, when really listening to Speak Now, it makes little to no sense to view it as an album rejoicing in fairytales and princesses rather than an album mourning the loss of them. The album is less about fantasies and more about the violent loss of girlhood, and the last few moments a woman spends clinging to innocence.

Speak Now was released when Taylor Swift was twenty years old, entirely self-written between the ages of eighteen to twenty. The only exception is “Sparks Fly,” which was written when Taylor was sixteen and then reworked to fit into the album. Her first two albums — Taylor Swift and Fearless — had been written between the ages of twelve to sixteen and sixteen to eighteen respectively, and focused on relationships that sometimes did not even exist, first love, first heartbreak, and a longing for a movie level romance that feels attainable only in adolescence. In Taylor Swift, the subject matter feels mostly created to appease the 2006 creeks and pick-up trucks country music audience while calling in a demographic of young girls that had not yet been invited to have their voices count. She sang about boyfriends, fitting in at school, and boys who didn’t return her feelings, making the album feel grounded and so special for being so relatable, especially given how terrible pockets of the popular country music scene were after 9/11, even into 2006, five years later.

Fearless toed the line between girlhood idealism and the reality of the immaturity of teenage relationships. This was the “I like glitter and sparkly dresses” era while also being the “I like writing songs about douchebags who cheat on me” era. Songs like “Love Story” and “White Horse” played with the fairytale princess imagery while “You Belong With Me” is the perfect teen movie song and music video. Taylor was unrelenting in reveling in the teenage girl identity. She took it seriously, didn’t diminish herself, didn’t try to seem older, and a generation of young girls felt seen. Including myself. This magical, sparkly album won Album of The Year at the Grammys and cemented Taylor as a cultural icon. Once her next album came around…

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