We were young, sitting on the floor of our grandparents' living room, pig tails flopping from side to side with each laugh while talking about mean teachers and annoying boys. We were cousins, but we were close enough to fight like sisters. Every hat that she bought, I needed the same one. Every song, we danced to together.

Then one day, she told me what she had asked to get for Christmas. She wanted the new Taylor Swift album. It was all the rage on television and Radio Disney. Everyone was talking about Taylor Swift’s first album. And then Christmas came, she did get it and we listened to it in awe.

That album came out nearly 16 years ago and I’m sure every girl around my age can still sing along as if we’re back at a middle school dance. The first few albums from Swift held a strong hold on my generation then and for years to come. Sure, it might sound embarrassing, but I think that every generation has someone like that.

A few years later, everyone seemed to despise Swift and all that she created. This distain lasted forever, or so it seemed. It wasn’t cool to listen to her music or even nod along to a song. Her name was introduced as a punchline in every joke. She just couldn’t stop dating guys and getting heartbroken and then writing a song about it all. What a sad excuse for an artist. What a waste of radio time. Those poor guys that she dated.

And it was easy to get sucked into the “Taylor Swift hating” pipeline in class conversations, because in middle school there are a lot of things that one doesn’t understand. There were even shirts being sold that listed the names of all the boys she had dated up until that point. When it came out, she was close to my age. I didn’t realize it at the time, but she was doing what most every teen and young adult does – date.

No one talked about how she dated a man in his 30s when she was still a teen. No one talked about the power dynamics that could have been happening. She probably felt so special that this older man showed interest. She got her heart broken by a man who was much older and she wasn’t allowed to respond like a normal young girl? Yet, no one blinked at eye toward him even though she was so young that they couldn’t even grab a drink at a bar together. Poor man.

Sure, she’s probably done stuff in these relationships that aren’t pretty. Yet, what should we expect of a young girl who grew up in a red-hot spotlight? A mature relationship as a teenager with a famous older man who hasn’t kept a relationship longer than three years? No. Yet, she, as a young and naïve girl, probably thought that it maybe could.

The funny thing is, the older my generation gets, the more that they understand the odd allure of Taylor Swift. She was hated because she dated.

The same young girls who were singing her songs at the middle school dance are still singing them while they drive to work. I think that people have learned that singing heartbreak songs can be kind of fun.

— Hannah Morgan, a native of Wyoming County, is attending WVU in pursuit of a career in journalism. Her email is hannahmorgan13943@hotmail.com.

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