Selena Gomez & Taylor Swift Handle Their Sexist Dating Narratives Differently, But Both Approaches Are Empowering AF
Let it be known that Selena Gomez is taking no prisoners this press tour, owning her hard work, asserting her independence, and bluntly deflecting any questions concerning Justin Bieber (and yes, there have been a lot of them). In fact, no matter how many times the "Same Old Love" singer tells the media that she is not here for any questions about her ex, the inquiries are still being asked with alarming frequency. And so, as she revealed in the June 2016 issue of Marie Claire, Gomez has concocted an approach for those times where her dating life becomes the sole focus of the interview — smile on through it, and don't let them know it's affected you. It is notably different approach than her bestie Taylor Swift's, and both are empowering in their own ways.
"I would try to promote something that I loved, and the entire interview would be about my personal life," Gomez told the magazine in a new interview (she's on the cover this month). "I would leave a room feeling defeated, feeling embarrassed, but I would always make sure to put that smile on my face because I wasn't going to let them get to me."
While Gomez's plastered smile is probably a result of a lot of media training (and several years working for Disney), it's a knowing grin, one filled with smart instinct and endless frustration. It's one that says, "I know exactly what you're doing, and I'm not about to feed into it." The singer-actor is well aware that the sexism is horrifically blatant (the idea that all of Gomez's success — including the fact that she is now the most followed person on Instagram in the entire world — is being glossed over in favor a discussion about her love life is almost unimaginable), and she is choosing to rise above it and not give any power to it. But it's also not as if Gomez has just sat there quietly, either: She's been more than blunt when the endless questions about her private life get too tiresome and too personal — and just the fact that she is speaking out about it now is empowering in its own right. She may have "grinned and beared it" before, but she's calling attention to it now. And that kind of awareness is important.
It's a markedly different approach than Taylor Swift's, who turned the tabloid narrative about her dating life into "Blank Space," flipping the story on its head and instead becoming, through the song's lyrics and genius music video, the "man eater" stereotype the media portrayed her to be. It was a way of taking back control over her own image and a decidedly ~meta~ way to take a stab at the media (and its depiction of her).
While Swift's approach is perhaps more obviously forward and ~creative~ (nothing says "turning lemons into lemonade" by reclaiming your own narrative and penning a hit single about it) Gomez's tactic, as she explained in Marie Claire, can be more subdued and quietly frustrated. That is, of course, until she's had enough — and in that case, she replaces the plaster smile with a blunt response about how she's not here for this. Though their tactics might be different on the outside, both women's approaches have a lot in common: They subtly point out the sexism while simultaneously take control over their own narrative by living, creating (and most importantly, bringing focus back to) their own success.
Of course, the idea that Gomez handles the narrative of her dating life differently than Swift is just more proof that, as Gomez noted in a recent interview, "I'm not Taylor Swift." There is no societal "rule" that the two women should or would even want to broach the topic in the same way, and the fact that they have handled it differently only goes to show the world that there are numerous different approaches in dealing with sexism. And as long as the end result is bringing awareness and attention to the fact that sexism is alive, well, and apparent — which Gomez and Swift have repeatedly made known — it's not so important which approach you choose, but rather, that your message comes across. And they've nailed it.