LOS ANGELES – Taylor Swift has updated her new music video following backlash and debate surrounding her use of the word “fat”.
Fans of the American singer noticed the change in the video for the song Anti-Hero that was uploaded to Apple Music.
A previous version of the video featured Swift stepping onto a scale that read “fat” while an evil version of the singer points and laughs. Now, the video shows Swift stepping on the scale, but the word does not appear.
The change comes days after Swift, 32, released her latest album, Midnights, to widespread anticipation.
Debate surrounding the scene reached a fever pitch online: Some listeners argued the singer was engaging in fatphobia because the way the word was used was coded as being bad or something to fear. Others said the video itself was a critique of anti-fat bias.
Swift discussed her history with body image and an eating disorder in the Netflix documentary Miss Americana (2020), and fans suggested that those experiences may have influenced what she described as her “nightmare scenarios and intrusive thoughts” on Twitter.
As of publication time, the video uploaded to YouTube featured the word. Representatives for Swift did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Gianluca Russo, author of The Power Of Plus: Inside Fashion’s Size-Inclusivity Revolution, said the clip was bound to be controversial because of the myriad ways people can interpret the scene.
“People within the fat activist community are actively working on removing the stigma around that word and returning fat to what it is – a thing that our bodies have,” he added.
“But I think we also need to recognise that society has put so much emphasis on fat being bad for decades, and that while many people have been able to destigmatise the word for themselves on a personal level, many others have not.”
More than 40 per cent of people in the United States across a variety of body sizes reported being subjected to some kind of weight stigma throughout their lives, according to a 2021 study from researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles.
That stigma can lead to a variety of health issues, including disordered eating.
Midnights has sold more than 1.2 million units in its first three days of release, according to data tracker Luminate, making it the first album with more than one million sales in five years. The Anti-Hero video has been viewed more than 33 million times on YouTube alone.
Swift joins Lizzo and Beyonce in amending musical work shortly after releasing it this year. Both singers re-recorded new songs that previously contained ableist slurs.
Russo said the accountability is critical.
“Any time we talk about our singular experiences, if we have a platform and influence, we need to consider the impact that it will have on a larger scale when people are also watching,” he added. BLOOMBERG