We all remember it. The most notorious tank top in history (OK, that’s a short list). But seriously, for such a small — like, tiny — article of clothing, Tom Hiddleston’s “I [heart] T.S.” tank top made more ripples in relationship news than all those beautiful celebrities probably made in the ocean that day.
It was July 4, 2016, and Hiddleston was celebrating on the beach with then-girlfriend Taylor Swift, her model/actress/fab-person crew (including Blake Lively and hubby Ryan Reynolds), and what we can only assume were some incredibly attractive fish just beneath the surface (part of the Swift Squad contract, all animals within 500 yards must be gorgeous).
It seems a bit… ridiculous (?) how much impact that tank top had, especially considering the relationship lasted just about three months. But the media picked up on that article of clothing as a sort of emblem of the relationship, and of Hiddleston’s supposedly overeager affections for Swift, which presumably led to their split.
Yeah, the shirt was a bit tight — we’re not complaining — but in a new interview with GQ’s Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Hiddleston not only clarifies how the hell he ended up in the tank top heard round the world, he goes to a whole new level of earnestness talking about his relationship with Swift and the way he feels perceived because of it. Considering the fact that most celebrity relationships are morphed into unwelcome scrapbooks of love and heartache courtesy of Us Weekly and People magazine, Hiddleston’s GQ realness almost comes off as strange. Isn’t he supposed to just tweet something cryptic about lost love, dye his hair and date a model?
Instead, Hiddleston gets real. Like, really real. Like, spending two days with the interviewer and then coming to her apartment the next morning at 6 a.m. to clarify the realness of his realitude. “I have to be so psychologically strong about not letting other people’s interpretations about my life affect my life,” Hiddleston tells Brodesser-Akner. “A relationship exists between two people. We will always know what it was.” In an age when we either want our celebrities glossy and air-brushed or makeup-free in a mug shot, Hiddleston’s eager earnestness (earnest eagerness?) feels a bit… awkward. Like a face caress from your drunk uncle at Thanksgiving or protracted eye contact with just about anyone.
As for the tank top, “the truth is, it was the Fourth of July and a public holiday and we were playing a game and I slipped and hurt my back. And I wanted to protect the graze from the sun.” So one of the beautiful Swift Squad leant him the “I [Heart] T.S.” tank top. “We all laughed about it. It was a joke.”
Except the media made it a sensation, exactly the kind of thing that seems like pretty much the opposite of Hiddleston, who does come off as super-earnest but also funny, bookish, kind. Not to mention, if we’re gonna follow Hiddleston’s example, pretty sure we can all admit we’ve either been too passionate in the midst of a relationship (e.g. unasked-for anniversary back tattoo of their face) or engaged in minor freak-outs post breakup (ever dunked Polly-O String Cheese into a glass of red wine while screaming your ex’s name? Whatever, that’s a thing).
But really, what seems the most striking about Hiddleston’s earnestness is the energy behind it, like he had to clear something up, confess something. It’s like the tank top had become his albatross. We’d kind of be freaking out too. Not as gracefully as Hiddleston, though. Apparently, he showed up at Brodesser-Akner’s hotel early that morning and got poetic on everyone’s ass. “You have to fight for love. You can’t live in fear of what people might say. You know, you have to be true to yourself.”
Not super-quotable, but uncharacteristically raw for a profile. Celebrity sound bites be damned. Whomever snags Hiddleston next is lucky to get Loki.
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