Taylor Swift has rebranded the WAG tag, but there's a catch.

While everything from her hairstyle to collaborators to musical genres have gone through multiple different iterations, there has been one great constant throughout Taylor Swift's 17-year career: enthusiasm.

"The worst kind of person is someone who makes someone feel bad, dumb or stupid for being excited about something," she once said, in what to me is the greatest summation of her entire 'thing'.

From the early 'surprise face' criticism of her early award show appearances, to the many images of her being the only one in a crowd of peers to give a standing ovation, to the way she can rattle off 6000 breeds of cat in a 30-second period. Her M.O, besides never releasing a song without a killer bridge, is to embrace the joy, the passion and the inevitable cringe.

And so, Swift — dressed in Kansas City Chiefs' red, much to the chagrin of her home football team, the Philadelphia Eagles — has become an enthusiastic part of Travis Kelce's home crowd. For the uninitiated, he's a two-time Super Bowl winner, a very Tall Man and Swift's probable-boyfriend, after he publicly expressed his interest in her after seeing her perform her three-hour Eras Tour show in the same stadium he regularly throws a ball in.

Four times now, Swift has attended a Chiefs game. With almost every camera in the bowl pointed in her direction, she has cheered, chest bumped and, as footage from a Kelce fall showed, looked just the right amount of concerned when she needed to be.


Besides a joint SNL appearance and various dinners out in New York City, the most public parts of this blossoming relationship have played out in Kelce's world - in a sea of red in Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium, in suites full of his family, friends and fans. 

And so, ever since her first appearance, the internet has declared this Swift's 'WAG era'. 


WAGs — a British term referring to the 'wives and girlfriends' of sportsmen — are a long-time fascination of fans and media and an intersection of sport and pop culture. For a long time, the term WAG was seen as derogatory. For some it still is, although now there's probably much more irony in its use these days. A tentpole of WAG culture was, or at least portrayed to be, trashiness. It was about women partying, fighting and getting dolled up to have a crowd full of people blame them for their partner's poor form.

For some, Swift's (head first, fearless) dive into Kelce's world has been taken as glamorising a toxic world for women or an endorsement of the culture that is seen as flattening a woman's identity, while she gives up her own personal aspirations to follow a man from sports ground to sports ground.  

It's true that social media, the NFL itself, almost every brand in existence and of course, traditional media, have taken the Swelce story (we need to brainstorm a better couple name, btw!) and run with it. One of Swift's other career throughlines is her distaste for her story being flattened down to who she's dating, and there are plenty of people who believe the WAG era is either her backtracking on that entire thing or proof that no matter how popular she is, her personal life will always be more publicised. 

But on the other hand, Swift has been credited with the WAG rebrand. The argument is that her brand is so powerful that WAGs are cool again. 


Swift and Brittany Mahomes, the wife of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Image: Getty.

To be fair, Swift probably just wanted to go to a sports game and cheer for her hot new boyfriend, politics be damned. She's there because she likes the guy, not because she's out to reinforce or deconstruct decades of misogyny. 

There's also just... logistics. Kelce is in the middle of football season, which has a pretty strict schedule, and in two weeks' time, Swift will pop up on a stage in Argentina to continue her culturally saturating Eras Tour throughout South America.


Swift's entry into the upper echelon of WAG-dom has been helped by the fact that the Chiefs have won every game she has attended and according to some commentators, Kelce is in the best form of his career. If that changes, the tide may turn and Swift could find herself up against the ire of football fans like many other women before her. Then you won't be able to move without stumbling across a conversation about sexism in sporting culture.

But, obviously, Swift is also helped by the fact that she isn't a 'traditional WAG'. She's the figurehead of a billion-dollar business. When it comes down to it, she has a get-out-of-WAG-jail-free card.

During the same period as she's been turning up in Kansas City, she's released the highest-grossing concert movie of all time, scored another Hot 100 #1 with a song that was released four(!) years ago and prepared for the (Taylor's Version) re-release of her juggernaut pop album, 2014's 1989. And that's all directly after the biggest tour leg of her life.

Other WAGs are fully-rounded human beings too, obviously. They'll all have jobs, hobbies, responsibilities and passions outside of their choice of partner. But most are not as visible as one of the most visible women in the world, and most crucially, they're even less likely to have literally millions of people in their corner, advocating for everything else they have going on with equal fever.


If Swift's mere presence makes WAGs cool again, could her absence see this topple back down? 

It's serendipitous that the Swift conversation has happened at the same time as David and Victoria Beckham's Beckham documentary laid bare some of the horrifying treatment Posh received from football fans and press. Reassessing the WAG concept is something the zeitgeist is down for right now, and to have it be fronted by the biggest popstar in the world, during the year of Barbie, Beyonce and the Eras Tour, is practically perfect.

But to really address the issue at hand, we're going to need to do more than treat Swift like a cool, fun bandaid solution. Because obviously, bandaids don't fix bulletholes entrenched sexist attitudes.

If schedules allow it, I'd like to see Kelce enter his HAB (husband and boyfriends) era in stadiums across the world as Swift's Era Tour takes off first to South America and then to us here in Australia early next year, with friendship bracelets running up his arms and footage of him singing along to every word of 'All Too Well (10 Minute Version)'. 

Because maybe Swift is in her WAG era. Or maybe it's just that he, like the rest of the world, is in his Swift era.

Feature image: Getty.

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