Taylor Swift graces the cover of ELLE magazine’s ‘Women in Music’ issue and opens up about her breakup with One Direction’s Harry Styles and how it became the impetus for her hit song ‘Clean.’ The pop music superstar also poses for an alluring photo shoot.

Taylor Swift

Photo: Taylor Swift
Credit: PR Photos

The 25-year-old pop icon is much in the news these days as her ‘1989’ World Tour is in full swing and with it her set-list of presumably autobiographical songs which always provoke speculation as to which man and which breakup they might be referencing. Over the years she has been linked to quite a few men including Joe Jonas, John Mayer, Jake Gyllenhaal, Taylor Lautner, Connor Kennedy as well as Harry Styles of One Direction.

In a candid interview for ELLE magazine’s ‘Women in Music’ issue, she spoke of the very topic that the public can’t get enough of, it seems. She talked about Harry Styles — although not mentioning him specifically by name — who she dated and broke up with a couple of years ago.

She said, “‘Clean’ I wrote as I was walking out of Liberty in London. Someone I used to date—it hit me that I’d been in the same city as him for two weeks and I hadn’t thought about it. When it did hit me, it was like, Oh, I hope he’s doing well. And nothing else.”

She continued, saying, “And you know how it is when you’re going through heartbreak. A heartbroken person is unlike any other person. Their time moves at a completely different pace than ours. It’s this mental, physical, emotional ache and feeling so conflicted. Nothing distracts you from it. Then time passes, and the more you live your life and create new habits, you get used to not having a text message every morning saying, “Hello, beautiful. Good morning.”

She went on to speak of how she coped, and how her friends were instrumental in her moving on, as she said, “You get used to not calling someone at night to tell them how your day was. You replace these old habits with new habits, like texting your friends in a group chat all day and planning fun dinner parties and going out on adventures with your girlfriends, and then all of a sudden one day you’re in London and you realize you’ve been in the same place as your ex for two weeks and you’re fine. And you hope he’s fine. The first thought that came to my mind was, I’m finally clean.”

And with that, and with no names being named, Taylor Swift has given the public what they have been clamoring for, an admission that a song such as “Clean” does not arrive out of thin air, but instead is borne of heartbreak. Just as the case would be for anyone, including the vast majority of the world who goes through heartbreak without having it blazon in headlines and fodder for social media chatter.

She went on to speak of that very public existence, and lamented, “I’d been in this media hailstorm of people having a very misconstrued perception of who I was. There were really insensitive jokes being made at awards shows by hosts; there were snarky headlines in the press—”Taylor Goes Through a Breakup: Well, That Was Swift!”—focusing on all the wrong things.”

There’s much more to the interview, although, as is always the case, Taylor Swift’s comments about breakups immediately seize attention. But she does speak of her career and her evolution from country-pop to bona fide pop music. She said, “As far as the need to rebel against the idea of you, or the image of you: Like, I feel no need to burn down the house I built by hand. I can make additions to it. I can redecorate.” She also stressed that she was the one making the choices, as she said, “It wasn’t some committee going, ‘You know what Taylor needs to be this year?'”

It’s a fascinating and in-depth interview, and the cover image, with Taylor Swift decked out in a gold jumpsuit and holding up an acoustic guitar high over her head is striking as well.

See more of the interview, along with that perhaps destined to become iconic Taylor Swift ELLE ‘Women in Music’ cover photo here.