From Her Creative Process to the Secret to a Perfect Burrito: What We Learned from Taylor Swift's Miss Americana
The 30-year-old singer unveiled the movie at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 23 to praise from fans and critics alike.
From tackling her recent public political stance to shying away from showing off too much of her relationship with boyfriend Joe Alwyn, Swift provides her fans with a glimpse inside of her complicated life.
Here’s everything we’ve learned from Miss Americana.
1. Swift struggled with an eating disorder early in her career.
The pop singer opened up about feeling “triggered” by paparazzi photos of herself in an intimate moment in the film.
“I’ve learned over the years it’s not good for me to see pictures of myself every day because I have a tendency… I tend to get triggered by something whether it’s a picture where I feel like it looked like my tummy is too big or where someone said I looked pregnant,” Swift revealed.
She added, “That’ll just trigger me to starve a little bit, just stop eating.”
Now, Swift says, she’s managed to find a place where she feels happy with her body and doesn’t put too much thought on images of her that circulate around the Internet.
“I don’t care as much if someone points out that I’ve gained weight,” she said. “There’s always some standard of beauty that you’re not meeting. It’s all just f—ing impossible.”
2. Fans will see how the pop star creates her music and lyrics.
Swift gave director Lana Wilson unprecedented access to her music sessions while at the recording studio. The singer admitted she’d never had anyone with her in the studio that she wasn’t collaborating with during a Q&A after the premiere at Sundance.
“I didn’t want to know if it would stop me from feeling like I could come up with ideas and feeling like I could throw things out,” Swift said. “And there’s so much ridiculous-sounding ad-libbing that you do when you’re writing songs. So much of it sounds ridiculous until it sounds all right.”
She continued, “And a lot of that time, I would just always refuse to have any cameras in the studio whenever I write because I just feel like, what if I can’t do it. A then you’ve wasted a day and then I’ve wasted another creator’s time, I’ve wasted my producers time, I’ve wasted a co-writers time and I can’t write if somebody’s there.”
3. How she decided to go public with her political views.
In the documentary, Swift travels to her home state of Tennessee before the local elections to encourage people to register to vote and to also raise awareness as to how then-Senatorial candidate, Republican Marsha Blackburn, was anti-gay marriage, anti-gay rights and for rolling back protections for women when it came to domestic violence and stalking.
In a powerful scene, Swift and her mother, Andrea, attend a board meeting with members of her organization, including her father, Scott, to convince them to allow her to go public with her stance against Blackburn.
With her mother’s backing, Swift tearfully tells the all-male group, “I’m saying right now that I’m doing something that I know is right and I need to be on the right side of history.”
When Blackburn won the senatorial race, however, Swift was shocked and vowed to help increase voter turnout for the 2020 elections — as well as the release of a new political anthem, “Only the Young.”
4. On keeping her relationship with Joe Alwyn private.
While Alwyn was hardly seen in the film — except for a hug he gives Swift after one of her concert performances — the singer says he helped her in the aftermath of the scandal involving Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West.
“I had to deconstruct an entire belief system for my own personal sanity. I was also falling in love with someone who had a really wonderfully normal, balanced, grounded life,” she said.
“We decided together that we wanted our relationship to be private,” Swift added.
There are hints of Alwyn in the documentary, though. A montage of clips shot by the actor is shown, including Swift laughing as she tells him “I love you” while singing “Call It What You Want,” enjoying private dates in nature and the singer blowing out candles on a birthday cake.
“It was happiness without anyone else’s input. It was just … we were happy,” Swift said.
5. Why winning the trial against a former radio host who groped her didn’t feel like a victory.
In 2017, Swift countersued against former radio host David Mueller for $1 after he claimed in his lawsuit against her that she had gotten him fired.
Despite having the judge dismiss Mueller’s lawsuit, Swift said it was more of an ordeal than a win.
“I was so angry. I was angry that I had to be there,” she said. “I was angry that this happens to women. I was angry that people are paid to antagonize victims.”
Swift continued, “You don’t feel a sense of any victory when you win because the process is so dehumanizing.”
Following the trial, Swift shared a touching moment with her mother backstage at one of her concerts. Hugging her daughter, Andrea sobbed in Swift’s arms after her court win and explained how proud she was that she’d defended herself.
Swift hugged her mother back and comforted her, saying, “It’s OK, now.”
6. She didn’t discover burritos until her late 20s — and has a genius way of adding extra “crunch.”
During a recording session for her Lover album, Swift revealed she’d never eaten a burrito “until like two years ago.”
Enjoying a burrito during a lunch break, she showed a recording producer how she added extra “crunch” by adding a tortilla chip inside the burrito and taking a bite.
7. Revealing she felt “trained” to be good from an early age.
In the first few minutes of Miss Americana, home videos of Swift from her childhood are shown across the screen as it chronicles her early beginnings as a singer-songwriting all the way until she found success.
Swift explained she was “trained to be happy” since her childhood, adding the lesson wasn’t always a good one.
“My entire moral code as a kid and now is a need to be thought of as ‘good,'” she said. “It was all I wrote about, it was all I wanted, it was a complete and total belief system that I subscribed to as a kid.”
She continued, “And obviously, I’m not a perfect person by any stretch but overall the main thing that I always tried to do was just be a good girl. I became the person who everyone wanted me to be.”
8. Feeling she couldn’t “bounce back from” the Kimye scandal.
When West released his notorious 2016 song “Famous” with the lyrics, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex
Why? I made that bitch famous,” Swift responded saying she had not been aware the rapper would call her a derogatory name.
In response, Kardashian West released an edited video of her husband on the phone with Swift, acknowledging the “sex” part of the song. West insisted that Swift approved the lyric, though a rep for Swift said, “Kanye did not call for approval, but to ask Taylor to release his single ‘Famous’ on her Twitter account. She declined and cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message. Taylor was never made aware of the actual lyric, ‘I made that bitch famous.’ “
Swift recalled the aftermath of the scandal in the documentary, saying, “When people decided I was wicked and evil and conniving and not a good person, that was the one I couldn’t really bounce back from because my whole life was centered around it.”
9. On her mother’s cancer.
Swift was dealt with another blow when her mother, Andrea, was diagnosed with cancer.
“That has been really hard for me because she is my favorite person,” the pop star. “It woke me up from this life where I used to sweat all these things, but like, do you really care if the Internet doesn’t like you today if your mom’s sick from her chemo?”
In a sweet moment, Andrea explains after her diagnosis she did something she’s “always wanted to do”: adopt a huge dog which she calls her “cancer dog.”
Swift explained the pup was also Andrea’s “third child, like a human-sized dog.”
10. How the 2009 VMAs made her feel like she didn’t belong.
Reliving the experience of West taking the microphone from her during her 2009 VMA acceptance speech, Swift said the moment was a crucial part of her life.
“It was so echo-y in there. At the time, I didn’t know they were booing him doing that,” she said. “I thought they were booing me.”
“For someone who has built their whole belief system on getting people to clap for you, the whole crowd booing is a pretty formative experience.”
She added, “That was a sort of catalyst for a lot of psychological paths that I went on and not all of them were beneficial. It was all fueled by me not feeling like I belonged there. I’m only here because I work hard and I’m nice to people.”
Miss Americana is now streaming on Netflix.