Taylor Swift‘s documentary Miss Americana premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to a sold-out audience on Thursday evening. While the 90-minute presentation is not exactly what fans would expect from the 30-year-old pop star, that’s also what makes the film worth watching.
Directed by Lana Wilson, the documentary centers on Swift’s creative process, her small support system, parents Andrea and Scott Swift, along with special nods to longtime boyfriend, Joe Alwyn.
The film jumps back and forth through time, from when Swift was a child, receiving her first guitar on Christmas morning, and up until the 2019 VMAs. However, the juicy parts of the film come during her pivotal transformation between 2016 and 2018.
While many expected Swift’s documentary to be highly political after the release of Lover and the album’s hit single, “You Need to Calm Down,” her views on Donald Trump and politics are merely one part of the film.
Here are the 5 biggest revelations from Taylor Swift’s Miss Americana:
1. Swift Opens Up About Her Prior Eating Disorder
Swift’s journey to self-acceptance of her body, like any other woman, is a constantly evolving journey. Swift used to scrutinize photos of herself posted online, and if she thought her stomach looked big or was unsatisfied with what saw, she’d stop eating.
Swift eventually became aware that she checked all the boxes of having an eating disorder: Writing down everything she ate, working out excessively, and starving herself. However, this lifestyle was not sustainable, especially when your job includes going on a world tour and giving live energetic performances each night.
“I thought it was normal to feel like you’re going to pass out afterward,” Swift recalls of what she used to feel like after shows.
2. Swift Does Not Like Donald Trump & She Does Not Care What He Thinks About Her Music
The days of Swift tip-toeing her way around her true feelings are days of yore. In a poignant scene in the film, Swift discusses stepping out with a political stance, and her father advises against it. Scott fears for his daughter’s security and worries that this will make her an even bigger target.
However, Swift is more scared of what will happen if she doesn’t speak out. “I can’t go up on stage and say ‘Yay! Happy Pride Month!” without speaking up during the election. She fears people will think of Tennessee, her hometown, with Senator Marsha Blackburn, whom she refers to as “Trump with a wig.”
Swift says, “Throughout my whole career, label executives would just say, ‘A nice girl doesn’t force their opinions on people. A nice girl smiles and waves and says ‘thank you.'” – that Taylor is dead.
3. Joe Alwyn Is Barely In The Film, But Remains An Important Presence
While 2016 was one of the most difficult times for Swift personally, with two very public break-ups, and the blowback of her feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, it was a landmark year for her professionally. Swift became the only female artist to win the Grammy for Album of the Year twice. She won for the album Fearless, the youngest ever to receive the award at age 20, and again for 1989.
Swift embarked on what turned out to be a year-long hiatus beginning in 2016, she started dating Alwyn. In a clip from 2017, Swift describes her boyfriend in the film as the man she was “falling in love” with. While Alwyn only appears in a few brief scenes, the director does an incredible job of making his presence known without actually showing him on screen.
Swift says that she and Alwyn decided early on that they would keep their relationship private, and she continues to do just that in Miss Americana.
4. Swift Debuts The New Song ‘Only the Young’
“I need to be on the right side of history,” Swift said of her decision to publicly support two Tennessee Democratic candidates during the 2018 midterm elections. “I feel really good about not being muzzled anymore, and it was my own doing.”
After both Republican senators retained their seats, Swift was devasted. She funneled her thoughts into the song, “Only the Young.”
The lyrics to the new track, which plays during the film’s end credits go: “You did all that you could do, the game was rigged, the ref got tricked, the wrong ones think they’re right, we were outnumbered — this time.”
In an interview with Variety, Swift talked about how she wrote “Only the Young” after “there were so many young people who rallied for their candidate, whether it was a senator or congressman or congresswoman.“
“I saw a lot of young people’s hopes dashed,” Swift continued. “And I found that to be particularly tragic, because young people are the people who feel the worst effects of gun violence, and student loans and trying to figure out how to start their lives and how to pay their bills, and climate change, and are we going to war — all these horrific situations that we find ourselves facing right now.”
5. Swift’s Sexual Assault Trial Was A Pivotal Point In Her Life
A huge part of the film delves into her sexual assault trial in 2017, where Swift had to defend herself in court after she was assaulted by former radio host David Mueller in 2013. Swift countersued for a symbolic $1 after he sued her for defamation, and while Swift ultimately won, the experience was both traumatic and eye-opening.
In the Q&A after the film, Swift acknowledged that she’s incredibly privileged, and was able to hire an “incredible badass lawyer” to make her case in court. This particular experience is what propelled Swift to finally be vocal about her political views, and stand and those being marginalized.