Taylor Swift's Most Controversial Moments Over The Years

She may be America's sweetheart and one of the biggest stars of the moment, but Taylor Swift is much more than just a popular singer/songwriter. She's also a shrewd businesswoman, a cultural icon, and a music industry record-breaker. And, while she's certainly a force to be reckoned with and has one of the most devoted fan bases in Hollywood, that doesn't mean that she hasn't run into a bit of controversy over the course of her career. 

As far as celebrities go, Swift has been masterful at staying on the public's good side and avoiding backlash. Between her complex dating history, her self-referential, sometimes cryptic song lyrics, and the in-depth Easter eggs she's known for leaving for her fans, Swift and her personal life are certainly on the public's minds. Even so, she has mostly protected her reputation from the vulnerability that comes along with the limelight. Still, as one of the biggest celebrities in the world, it's virtually impossible to dodge all bad PR. From lawsuits to fat phobia and environmentally unfriendly habits, Swift has come under fire for a few different things during her time as a star. 

Her private jet emissions made news

Private jets are a major threat to the environment. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, private jets have become much more popular. Since then, there has been a whopping 23% increase in emissions. This is no surprise, considering the fact that commercial planes produce about 1/10 the emissions per passenger of a private jet. Despite the immense damage that private jets cause, they're still the preferred method of transportation for many celebrities, including Taylor Swift. In 2022, Taylor Swift came under fire for private jet habits; not only does she use one, but she reportedly has some of the highest emissions of any celebrity. 

An article was put out by Yard ranking the celebrities with the highest CO2 emissions from their private jets. Swift managed to take the number one spot. This was one of the more damaging PR moments in Swift's career, and her team was swift –– no pun intended –– about nipping it in the bud. The article stated that Swift had taken a whopping 170 flights on her private jet in just six months. However, her team told Rolling Stone that this number wasn't an accurate representation of Swift's frequent flyer miles. According to the statement, "Taylor's jet is loaned out regularly to other individuals. To attribute most or all of these trips to her is blatantly incorrect." 

She's been slammed with multiple copyright lawsuits

Taylor Swift has faced a few lawsuits head-on over the course of her career. One lawsuit hit Swift in response to the booklet that came with her album, "Lover," in 2019. Writer Teresa La Dart claimed that the booklet stole her design for her book of poetry, "Lover," which came out in 2010 and used a similar color scheme. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2023. 

This wasn't the first time Swift was accused of copying another artist's work; she also had a lawsuit filed against her for her "Shake it Off" lyrics. In 2017, songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler sued Swift over the lyrics of her hit song, "Shake it Off." According to them, the lyrics in the song were too similar to the 2001 song they'd written for 3LW, "Playas Gon' Play." Swift claimed that she wasn't familiar with the song in question. While she did have to appear in court for this lawsuit, it was ultimately dropped. 

Eras tour ticket debacle

Whether you were hoping to score tickets or not, we all remember the chaos that ensued when tickets for Taylor Swift's Eras Tour first went on sale. In November 2022, tickets for Swift's first major tour in four years went on presale on Ticketmaster. When the presale began, the website was completely overloaded, forcing fans to wait through glitches and bots getting in the way amidst the 14 million people on the site fighting for tickets. Ultimately, the tickets sold out, prompting Ticketmaster to cancel the scheduled public ticket sale.

Much of the source of the problem was a result of Ticketmaster's monopoly over the industry and, as they put it, the "extraordinarily high demands," per X, formerly known as Twitter. Still, plenty of folks held Swift responsible, too. She then took to her Instagram stories to address the issue. "I'm not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could," she wrote, per Us Weekly. "It's truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really p****s me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them. And to those who didn't get tickets, all I can say is that my hope is to provide more opportunities for us to all get together and sing these songs. Thank you for wanting to be there. You have no idea how much that means." 

Anti-hero backlash

In 2022, Taylor Swift released a music video for her song, "Anti-Hero." The video shows various scenes of Taylor existing alongside her self-destructive, "anti-hero" alter ego. In one scene in the original version, Swift steps onto a scale. Her alter ego looks down where the number should be — instead, the word "fat" appears, with which the alter ego is clearly displeased. The video attempted to show how someone's inner critic may cause them to be overly critical about their weight or body image. How this was portrayed, however, caused an uproar. 

At the time, eating disorder therapist, Shira Rose, tweeted: "Taylor Swift's music video, where she looks down at the scale where it says "fat," is a s****y way to describe her body image struggles. Fat people don't need to have it reiterated yet again that it's everyone's worst nightmare to look like us." 

While many folks were outspoken about their distaste for how this thought was represented in the video, others thought that there was nothing wrong with this portrayal of a feeling that Swift and many of her fans have experience with. Even so, the video was quickly edited to remove the controversial imagery. 

Keeping quiet on politics

One of the biggest controversies that Taylor Swift has found herself in is actually a result of her desire to avoid controversy. These days, celebrities are expected to use social media to speak out on major issues that arise in the world and take advantage of their platforms to inform the public. Swift is no exception to this, as she's been called out by fans for being silent on important matters. While Swift has become slightly more open about discussing her political stances in recent years, she still holds back, and this continues to prompt backlash. 

In a 2020 interview with Variety, Swift explained that her backlash-inducing silence simply started as a way to avoid backlash. She cited the Chicks' statements against George W. Bush and the resulting uproar against them as a warning. "I saw how one comment ended such a powerful reign, and it terrified me," she explained. "These days, with social media, people can be so mad about something one day and then forget what they were mad about a couple weeks later. That's fake outrage. But what happened to the [Chicks] was real outrage. I registered it — that you're always one comment away from being done being able to make music." While playing her cards close to her chest may anger some fans, Swift knows that this is safer than the backlash that could come as a result of her opinions, so she's likely to keep choosing the path of least resistance.