Who Is Clara Bow? Taylor Swift's Link To The Troubled Socialite

17 April 2024, 11:55

Taylor Swift's album TTPD ends with the track 'Clara Bow'
Taylor Swift's album TTPD ends with the track 'Clara Bow'. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Abbie Reynolds

The closing track of Taylor Swift's 'The Tortured Poets Department' is titled 'Clara Bow'. But who is she, and why has Taylor decided to close the album with this?

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Like her album title would suggest ('The Tortured Poets Department') Taylor Swift is not just a singer-songwriter, she is a modern day poet.

Just like a poet and their prose, every detail of her music means something, whether that be the length of the song, the title of the song or the order songs appear on her album (and of course the lyrics).

All of Taylor's choices are deliberate, which means titling the closing track of TTPD 'Clara Bow' is for a special reason.

But who is Clara Bow, and why is she relevant to the 14-time Grammy winner? Here's the Clara lore explained...

Clara Bow was an actress during the 1920’s silent film era
Clara Bow was an actress during the 1920’s silent film era. Picture: Alamy

Who is Clara Bow?

Clara is an actress who rose to fame during the 1920's silent film era. She's know by many as the original "it girl". Her story is believed to be a cautionary tale about being a women in the spotlight.

Later in life, according to The Guardian, Clara reflected on her career, saying: “There was always something. I was too young, or too little, or too fat. Usually I was too fat.”

At the time Clara was always a hot topic when it came to gossip, especially her dating life, which was viewed as 'taboo' since she was said to be even more promiscuous than some of her risqué film characters.

Clara ended up retiring young and later dying in an asylum aged 60. She struggled with a lot of mental health issues including Schizophrenia, which her mother also suffered with. Many believe that her mental decline was a result of the pressures she experienced through fame.

Taylor Swift announced 'TTPD' at the 2024 Grammys
Taylor Swift announced 'TTPD' at the 2024 Grammys. Picture: Getty

Why has Taylor Swift titled one her songs 'Clara Bow'?

This isn't the first time Taylor has written songs about troubled socialites, think 'The Last Great American Dynasty' from 'Folklore' about Rebekah Harkness and 'The Lucky One' from 'Red'. Fans say the use of Clara in this album feels like a signal, or warning to the world and those who follow Taylor's life.

One user on X wrote: "I'm sick….Clara Bow’s personal life and speculation about her romantic life was talked about so much that she ended up having a breakdown and going to a sanitarium…. Taylor Swift is sending EVERYONE A MESSAGE."

Much like Clara, there has been endless speculation surrounding Taylor's love life. From as early as 2008, when she was dating Joe Jonas, Taylor's relationships have been publicly documented.

Taylor famously takes inspiration from her well documented love-life for the lyrics of her songs but she has, over the years, been critiqued for 'only writing songs about her exes'.

Taylor is currently in a relationship with Travis Kelce
Taylor is currently in a relationship with Travis Kelce. Picture: Getty

Taylor has called this view out for the "sexist" take that it is. She once said: "No one says that about Ed Sheeran, no one says that about Bruno Mars. They're all writing songs about their exes, their current girlfriends, their love life, and no one raises a red flag there."

So it's likely Taylor feels connected to Clara due to the similarities in how their romantic lives have been scrutinised through the public eye. But also, as mentioned before, Clara's weight and looks were under constant scrutiny something, sadly, Taylor can relate to.

In Taylor's 2020 documentary Miss Americana a montage of comments about her body were played, one read: "She’s too skinny. It bothers me."

Taylor spoke about her unhealthy relationship with food for the first time in the film, saying that when she sees an unflattering picture of her self it 'triggers' her.

Taylor Swift premiered "Miss Americana" at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival
Taylor Swift premiered "Miss Americana" at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Picture: Getty

The '1989' singer explained: " [If I saw] a picture of me where I feel like I looked like my tummy was too big, or…someone said that I looked pregnant...and that’ll just trigger me to just starve a little bit — just stop eating.”

When the documentary came out she told Variety about a photoshoot she had done at 18 years old and remembered a headline that came out afterwards that read ‘Pregnant at 18?’.

With songs like 'The Black Dog' on the special editions of the album, we knew 'The Tortured Poets Department' was going to be a hard hitter but this link to Clara suggests it is going to be even more reflective than we can imagine.

Listen live to Capital, and catch up on any shows you missed, on Global Player.