“The female artists that I know have reinvented themselves 20 times more than males artists. You have to. Or else you’re out of a job. Constantly having to reinvent. Constantly finding new facets of yourself that people find to be shiny.” – Taylor Swift, Miss Americana documentary
Sometimes it’s voluntary. Sometimes we’re forced to evolve. Sometimes many reinventions happen all at once, sometimes just one part of us will transform. Sometimes you can name your starting point and destination, other times it’s less obvious.
When I look back, there’s some reinventions I can pinpoint.
Aged 20, May 2015. going from university student to a marketing executive in a matter of weeks.
Others, I didn’t even realise were happening.
Like, I’m not sure when I decided to transform from heartbroken to healed. Or when I was no longer a girl and finally a woman.
Transition, movement, disorientation have been a bubbling source of discomfort for me even pre-pandemic. ‘I don’t want the things I used to want and that confuses me’, I’d written in my journal in March 2019.
But as someone who has exonerated divas and their eras, I know not to fear this. Female artists have pioneered fluidity of musical style, image and skills right before our eyes.
The way Lady Gaga transitioned from the fishnet-clad ‘Rivington rebel‘ for her Born This Way era to denim and country for Joanne. Madonna and the brazen sexiness of Blonde Ambition to the spiritually-influenced Ray of Light. We’ve witnessed Beyoncé’s trajectory from glossy pop to rapping about racial inequality.
In a notoriously fast-paced industry with fickle fans, reinvention isn’t an option, it’s a necessity.
We have to release what no longer serves us. Much like Gwen Stefani dropped her grungy front girl act with No Doubt to emerge as a fully-fledged blonde starlet.
Sometimes transformation makes us do a ‘full 180’ (s/o Miss Dua Lipa!!!), like Rihanna, and we turn our backs on our music career to launch a ridiculously successful cosmetics line.
But reinvention doesn’t come without risk. Not all our fans will be on board with our new direction. Our label might not get it. But we can’t let that stop us from moving beyond what we’ve outgrown.
In the past months, we’ve seen structures uprooted, systems brought to their knees and a powerful questioning of everything we’ve known to be true up until now.
So, as we emerge back into the world I ask you;
How can you surrender to change?
What have you had to un-learn?
Where can you lean into reinvention?