Gina Mantica '16 Contributing Writer
Imagine a steamy July day in Massachusetts. Families, friends and neighbors alike wake up, pack their blue coolers and faded lounge chairs, and flock to the sparkling white sands of Cape Cod. After hours of sitting in beach traffic with your token “massholes” that perpetually honk in the hopes that noise will clear the slowdown, anxiously awaiting the feeling of hot sand sinking between your toes, you arrive at the coastal paradise. Ready to let the warmth of the sun embrace your skin in a glowing hug, you remove your clothes and reveal your bathing suit. Now, regardless of whether you wear a one-piece, a bikini, a tankini, swim trunks, a speedo, a jammer or any other sort of bathing suit imaginable, chances are that if you open your eyes and break from the pure ecstasy of lounging in the sun to take a look around, you’re bound to see a lot of belly buttons.
It is not abnormal for human beings to possess a little depression (for those with innies) or protrusion (for those with outies) on their stomachs. So why is it that the media was thrown into a frenzy upon the recent public reveal of Taylor Swift’s bellybutton on Instagram?
Prior to the posting of this photograph, rumors abounded that the twenty-five-year-old country-singer-turned-pop-sensation did not possess a bellybutton at all.
This myth is partially due to her recent change in style, scrutinized heavily by the media. Since the release party for her notorious song, “Shake It Off,” Swift has performed in varying combinations of matchy-matchy crop tops with skirts, shorts, or pants. This newfound look reflects her fresh switch in genre and differs from the floral dresses of her country days.
However, up until her bikini picture with the Haim sisters, Swift has chosen to never show her belly button, despite the baring of some midriff beneath her crop tops. Taylor Swift commented on her style choice to Lucky magazine: “I don’t like showing my belly button. When you start showing your belly button then you’re really committing to the midriff thing. I only partially commit to the midriff thing – you’re only seeing lower rib cage.”
Critics of Swift’s style suggest that she is simply keeping with her “classy” and “mom-approved” look to maintain a supportive fan base. The notion that the covering of the belly button is more “classy” harkens to the concept of the navel as a sexual object on females. In the 1940s and 1950s, censors prevented the female navel from being pictured in movies by changing the angle of certain cinematic shots or by covering the bellybutton with jewelry pieces. It was not until 1975 that the female belly button made its first appearance on a screen.
The other aspect contributing to the hubbub around Taylor Swift’s possession of a belly button is the singer herself. Swift, up until Jan. 23, played into the media’s excessive focus on her style choices. She told Lucky magazine, “As far as anyone knows based on my public appearances, they haven’t seen evidence of a belly button.”
This, my friends, is the new Taylor Swift, the “Blank Space” Taylor Swift that embraces the media hype surrounding her life to get a laugh. The Taylor Swift that conducts a sort of navel warfare to combat rumors. By toying with the public, Swift highlights not only the media’s ridiculous portrayal of her life, but also the disproportionate attention paid to her appearance and her relationships, rather than her music and success.
Still, why is it that we focus on such insignificant things like Taylor Swift’s belly button and her boyfriends, where we could instead be fixing our attention to the fact that this seven-time Grammy award winner just successfully trademarked the phrase “this sick beat” and other phrases from “1989” in the United States? There are not a lot of people that can say they’ve taken home seven Grammys, 16 American Music Awards, 11 Country Music Association Awards, 7 Academy of Country Music Awards and 34 Billboard Music Awards.
But in many minds, discussing Swift’s style, friends, pets, navel and relationships makes the artist more relatable. This glorified gossip enhances the fans’ connection with and appreciation for the music.
For those not convinced of Taylor Swift’s normality, she has two cats named Olivia Benson and Meredith Grey. So, even if she didn’t have a navel, that makes her pretty ordinary in my book.