MALIBU, Calif. – Taylor Swift has never been far from most of Denise Salcedo’s big life moments, like when she graduated college, bedazzling her cap with the name of the album that would inspire her to pursue her dreams after college: Fearless.
Graduating college is far from the only thing T-Swift has inspired her to do.
“I started wearing lipstick because of Taylor, eyeliner because of Taylor,” she said.
Swift’s influence is evident among tweens, teens, and even young women approaching their 30s, like Salcedo. So it makes sense that the singer is receiving the first ever Icon Award at the Teen Choice Awards.
“I would hear her lyrics and I remember thinking ‘How does someone know exactly how I feel about certain situations?’” said Salcedo.
But even though Swift's songs have garnered no less than 10 Grammys, this time, Swift is accepting an award for her success as a pop culture icon.
This award is all about how she uses her platform to inspire and create change.
Some of her influence is easily measured, like when she endorsed Democrats Phil Bredesen and Jim Cooper last year, igniting a major spike in voter registration according to Vote.org.
Other influence is perhaps only seen over the course of time, as she inspires young people to emulate her good behavior.
“You never see her doing anything bad, out partying, showing off everything, cursing online. You never see that. It’s always positive influential stuff,” said Salcedo.
The influence is obvious. The 'why' is probably pretty easy to understand, too.
“We want to be just a little bit like them I think,” said Salcedo.
But just how important is positive influence in shaping impressionable young people? For people like Salcedo, it can be invaluable.
Every night, she writes in her Taylor Swift journal, documenting her goals, her plans for growing her YouTube channel and eventually becoming a host.
Seeing how much Swift’s drive and success has changed her life, Salcedo wants to inspire other little girls out there.
“I hope they find Taylor’s music and listen to songs like "15" for example. It’s not about boys and falling in love, it’s about focusing on making your dreams come true like Taylor Swift did,” she said.