In this generation, female artists often sing of male approval; they portray it to their fans as the highest form of empowerment for women. In Taylor Swift’s “Fifteen,” the lyrics revolve around surviving high school but more importantly the relationships the artist held with boys throughout her four years. Swift sings:
It's your freshman year and you're gonna be here
For the next four years in this town
Hoping one of those senior boys will wink at you and say,
‘You know I haven't seen you around before.’
These lyrics are true because Swift writes about what she was worrying about on her first day of high school and, despite the fact that Americans do not like to admit it, acceptance from the opposite gender is an important part of high school. However, going to high school is about furthering your education, not about senior boys noticing the new freshman in the halls. In Swift’s lyrics, she is saying that drawing attention from the senior boys was her biggest concern. These primary concerns are important because she is allowing male approval to overtake the importance of her education.
Aside from prioritizing male approval in her songs, Taylor Swift never seems to take the blame for her relationships. A common theme that comes out of her work is that she is the blameless victim in all her relationships. The message is relayed in her song “Fifteen” when she writes, “Abigail gave everything she had to a boy who changed his mind / And we both cried.” Here, Swift references her best friend, Abigail’s high school breakup. She says that Abigail’s ex-boyfriend unexpectedly broke her heart after she “gave everything” to him. This line is a true statement because Americans experience unexpected heartbreak regularly, especially as teenagers when expect the most out of our juvenile relationships. As this statement may be true, however, Abigail could have prevented her heartbreak by never allowing herself to reach this point of extreme vulnerability and maintaining her strength and independence. Abigail allowed herself to reach this point because she prioritized male centrality.
Despite these examples of how Taylor and her songs conform to the everyday stereotypes of women, the song, overall, is about how she learned from her experience of dealing with boys and relationships throughout high school. Taylor says,
'Cause when you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You're gonna believe them
When you're fifteen
And your first kiss makes your head spin round
But in your life you'll do things greater than dating the boy on the football team
But I didn't know it at fifteen.
Taylor acknowledges her past naivety because she thought that the greatest thing she could do in high school was date the boy on the football team, which is a true and common high school belief because dating a boy on the football team implies social acceptance. Taylor, however, when comparing her high school experiences with those of her current life, recognizes that what she thought was important at fifteen, does not amount to anything after high school but she “didn’t know it at fifteen”.
In conclusion, the lyrics from Taylor Swift’s “Fifteen” create a true American story because it follows the typical stereotypes of a girl trying to survive high school, with not only school to worry about, but also relationships. This generalization is shown not only in this single work of art, but in multiple recent pop songs by female artists, especially Taylor Swift. She is setting a dangerous precedent for young girls, inappropriately modeling that boys should be their first priority.