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"Big reputation, big reputation

Ooh, you and me, we got big reputations, ah

And you heard about me, ooh

I got some big enemies"

—Taylor Swift, "End Game"

Taylor Swift's "End Game"
Click on the video to listen to Taylor Swift's song "End Game."

What is Taylor Swift talking about when she refers to "big reputations" in the song "End Game" on her album reputation? [1] It is difficult to define reputation, but, according to Samuel Johnson's Dictionary, published in 1755, reputation is “Credit; honour; character of good.” [2] Although this definition is incredibly simple, it is still vague and does not fully explain what makes up a reputation. For example, what is "credit"? What does it take to get "honour?" What exactly is a "character of good?" It is difficult to pin down what a reputation is because the terms used to define it are vague.  The only way to truly understand reputations is to look at the things people say are necessary to gain a reputation.  

Throughout this exhibit, I argue that the terms used to talk about reputations have varied since the 1700s, but, at its heart, reputation construction has not changed, especially for women. The terms used to discuss reputation construction have included propriety, accomplishment, and “effortless perfection,” but they all refer to the requirements needed to gain a reputation. Building a reputation itself is based on the idea of “effortless perfection” which means that a woman has to appear to be perfect even though perfection is not possible. This high expectation results in women focusing more on their surface, or appearance, instead of their depth, or character. 

[1] Swift, Taylor. “End Game.” YouTube, uploaded by Taylor Swift – Topic, 30 Nov. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ajP1v4Dgfs.

[2] Johnson, Samuel. A dictionary of the English language: in which the words are deduced from their originals, and illustrated in their different significations by examples from the best writers. To which are prefixed, a history of the language, and an English grammar. By Samuel Johnson, A.M. In two volumes. ... 2nd ed., vol. 2, printed by W. Strahan, for J. and P. Knapton; T. and T. Longman; C. Hitch and L. Hawes; A. Millar; and R. and J. Dodsley, 1755-56. Eighteenth Century Collections Online, find.galegroup.com/ecco/infomark.do?&source=gale&docLevel=FASCIMILE&prodId=ECCO&userGroupName=utahstate&tabID=T001&docId=CW3311953413&type=multipage&contentSet=ECCOArticles&version=1.0.

Image Credit:

Swift, Taylor. “End Game.” YouTube, uploaded by Taylor Swift – Topic, 30 Nov. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ajP1v4Dgfs.

Hutton, Laurence. Literary Landmarks of London ... Eighth edition, revised and enlarged, etc, Osgood, McIlrain & Co. 1892, p. 341. The British Library.  

John Opie (artist) and James Heath (engraver). "Image of Mary Wollstonecraft, half-length portrait, facing left," Rockwood Photographer, 1850-70. Library of Congress.

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice, George Allen, 1894. National Library of New Zealand.  

Facebook, Inc. Facebook logo, Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:F_icon.svg.