‘All Too Well’: A Toast to Twentysomethings Everywhere

At the Tribeca Film Festival in June, singer-songwriter, producer, and honorary doctorate recipient Taylor Swift put on one of her many caps — director — to talk about the acclaimed Short Film that accompanied the new, re-recorded ten-minute version of a fan-favorite song, “All Too Well.”

At the festival, Swift talked about her fascination with “girlhood,” and how it was her belief that “19 and 20 can be such a profound age for young women.”

As a young woman who fits that age bracket and a longtime fan, Swift’s words resonated with me so deeply.

“All Too Well: The Short Film” is so much more than the story of a relationship gone sour. It demonstrates the harsh reality that when you are young, the security blanket that is your youth is slipping away from you. You are vulnerable and exploitable in a way that you’ve never been before. The scars you accumulate at 19 and 20 stick with you forever.

The intricacies of girlhood are not just prevalent in All Too Well, but also are a running theme in the entirety of Swift’s discography. In the album that All Too Well serves as a the gut-wrenching Track 5, Red, as well as its predecessor, Speak Now, she writes from her own 19–22 year old perspective. In her more recent work, folklore and evermore, Swift uses the power and gift of hindsight to craft fictionalized tales about the fickle and frightening nature of youth that any young person can identify with.

For whatever reason, likely due to the endless misogyny Swift has experienced from the public throughout her sixteen-year career, her discography is often minimized as an array of poppy break-up songs that make it to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 but deserve no accolades to account for that.

However, so many people relate to Swift’s music because she is unafraid to highlight the parts of herself that are lovesick, petty, and immature. Her introspective lyricism takes the time to dissect the human psyche with nuance, both when it is easy to do so and when it isn’t.

“All Too Well” is womanhood beyond the confines of a relationship. It is the everlasting reminder that while the villains in your life come and go, they were fundamental to your existence, their mark permanent on your being—and that is far from being a bad thing.

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Kanita T.

Kanita T.

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a pakistani-american lover of words (and macchiatos) | student at new york university