Demi Lovato Challenges Taylor Swift's Feminism & Body Type, But Contradicts Herself In The Process
It's no secret that feminism is filled with varying voices and opinions. While having challenging discussions is part of the process, there's still a shared goal at the end of the day: equality of the sexes. In her Glamour cover story, Demi Lovato critiqued Taylor Swift's form of feminism, and in doing so, seemed to forget the heart of the movement. It shouldn't be a contest and by tearing down how Swift approaches her beliefs, Lovato is contradicting the idea of uplifting other women. Not only that, but in the same interview, she belittled the body types of Swift and her friend circle. It was an unnecessary dig that goes against the message Lovato usually spreads.
The reporter asked Lovato, "You’ve said before, in regard to Taylor Swift, 'Don’t brand yourself a feminist if you don’t do the work.' How do you see yourself doing the work?" Here's an excerpt of the singer's response:
"Just speaking out. I’m not afraid to talk about the fact that women get paid less than men in the United States and how unfair that is. Talking about it at all is doing the work. And I think every woman does her part in some way. But I think in certain situations, certain people could be doing more if they’re going to claim that as part of their brand."
Lovato went on to say that Swift's "Bad blood" video is "not women's empowerment" because it tore Katy Perry down. (That's a valid critique, for sure.) But then she said, "I have to ask myself, Am I content with calling myself a feminist? Yes, because I speak out." My issue with that statement is that you don't have to "speak out" to be a feminist. While advocacy is inherently tied to the movement, in its simplest form, it's about the belief in gender equality. You can't say someone can't call themselves a feminist just because they're not out there with a picket sign or burning a bra.
As seen in the past, Swift makes powerful moves to help others, but doesn't always broadcast them. Take, for instance, when she donated to Kesha's legal fees and Lovato called her out for not speaking out about Kesha's court case instead. Sometimes actions speak louder than words. In Swift's case, it's possible to support other women, without live-tweeting the entire process. There's no right or wrong way to practice feminism.
Probably the most troubling part of the interview was when Lovato incorporated body image into her critique of Swift's feminism. She said,
"To be honest, and this will probably get me in trouble, I don’t see anybody in any sort of squad that has a normal body. It’s kind of this false image of what people should look like. And what they should be like, and it’s not real."
Similar to her previous statement, this implies there's one set way for a person to look or be. Just as she's calling out Swift for setting an unrealistic standard, Lovato is seemingly setting a standard, as well. And in doing so, she essentially defeated her own point. To say that Swift's friends' bodies stray from what's "normal" is as damaging as calling someone "too fat" or "too skinny."
Considering Lovato promotes for body confidence, it's surprising she would go after someone else's appearance. The fact that Swift and her also famous friends have slender figures is a testament to Hollywood's standards, not some weight limit that the 26-year-old imposes. It's not as if Swift hazes her friends into being skinny. If anything, she does the opposite. In Nov. 2015, Selena Gomez said of Swift, "Thank you for making us and all beautiful women feel beautiful." It's also all the more surprising that Lovato would be so critical of that squad, since her friend Gomez is part of it.
Don't get me wrong, Lovato is entitled to her opinions. But the issue here is that her comments, in some ways, portray a superiority complex — as if she's a better feminist, simply because she's outspoken and doesn't have the same body type as Swift. There's no set definition of what makes a "normal" body or a good feminist. Why create more unrealistic standards, especially within a movement that's fighting so hard to eliminate them? It's not only counterproductive, but disappointing.