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The pop star has just kicked off the world tour to support her 2017 album Reputation—which, as its title might suggest, features a lot of songs about Swift coming to terms with her perception in the media.
Swift and Kardashian’s beef stems back to Kanye West‘s 2016 music video for his song “Famous,” which featured naked wax figures of many prominent celebrities (including West, Swift, and Kardashian), and also included lyrics that address Swift by name. At the time, Swift purported to be blindsided and offended by the mention, which is when Kardashian came through with some receipts. The Keeping Up With the Kardashians star uploaded a video of a phone call to her Snapchat account, in which West outlines the nature of the lyrics and his idea for the music video, and Swift can be heard giving her approval. Kardashian famously referred to Swift as a “snake” for changing her tune once the song was released, a nickname—and emoji—that caught on quickly among fans online.
Reputation‘s imagery has been full of playful snake references and nods to the drama that has taken place over the years, but Swift has never really opened up about what the experience had meant to her until now. And ever the businesswoman, she’s using it to promote her live shows.
At the first official Reputation concert in Glendale, Arizona, Tuesday night, Swift took a moment between songs to explain to her fans what the experience had been like for her:
A couple of years ago, someone called me a snake on social media and it caught on. And then a lot of people called me a lot of names on social media. And I went through some really low times for a while because of it. I went through some times when I didn’t know if I was gonna get to do this anymore. And I guess the snakes, I wanted to send a message to you guys that if someone uses name calling to bully you on social media and even if a lot of people jump on board with it, that doesn’t have to defeat you. It can strengthen you instead.
And I think something that came out of it that was good was is that I learned a really important lesson that I’ve been telling you from the stage for 10 years but I haven’t been able to learn myself, which has to do with how much you value your reputation. And I think the lesson is that you shouldn’t care so much if you feel misunderstood by a lot of people who don’t know you, as long as you feel understood by the people who do know you, the people who show up for you, and the people who see you as a human being. So thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to get to know me, for sticking up for me, for seeing me as human being.
Eagle-eared concertgoers were smart enough to hit “record” as soon as they heard Swift start talking, so there’s plenty of video of the speech:
There are also visual elements from the tour that reference Swift’s online bullying. A reel of critical media clips plays at one point in the show:
And at the end of the concert, a screen displays a message for any remaining Swift haters: “And in the death of her reputation, she felt truly alive.”
Something tells us the big reveals from this tour are just getting started.
Christine Friar is a writer and editor in New York who focuses on streaming entertainment and internet culture. Her work has appeared in the Awl, the Fader, New York Magazine, Paper Magazine, Vogue, Elle, and more.