When we first observed that Taylor Swift’s grown-up uniform involved denying the existence of her belly button, we assumed it was a cyborg thing: sex appeal without any of the animal messiness.
On Slate, critic Carl Wilson theorized that Swift’s belly button represents New York, “the imperial omphalos of global capital.” Omphalos Syndrome, from the Greek word for belly button, means navel-gazing on a national scale: “the delusion that whatever locale you regard as the seat of power is, as author Cullen Murphy puts it, ‘the focal point of reality — that nothing is more important than what happens there, and that no ideas or perceptions are more important than those of its elites.’” And Swift is New York’s Global Welcome Ambassador.
We were both wrong.
Swift broke her silence about her belly button in Lucky, revealing that her choice to conceal her belly button is an extension of her current theory of dating. Repeating her stance on romantic relationships, which Swift has forgone because she’s too busy with work and life, she can’t fully commit to midriff exposure right now. She told the magazine:
“I don’t like showing my belly button. When you start showing your belly button then you’re really committing to the midriff thing. I only partially commit to the midriff thing — you’re only seeing lower rib cage.”
And like the high-profile female friendships that have supplanted Swift’s dating life in tabloid stories, her matching crop top and high-waisted skirt sets appease public interest in her life while preserving a modicum of privacy.
“I don’t want people to know if I have one or not … I want that to be a mystery. As far as anyone knows based on my public appearances, they haven’t seen evidence of a belly button. It could be pierced. They have no idea.”
We’ll get back to you with a full theory of what a navel piercing would represent for Swift, feminism, and American Imperialism after Thanksgiving.