Taylor Swift look-alike Ashley Leechin is dealing with some bad blood from online haters after receiving backlash for posing as the singer in public.
“It was a prank,” Leechin, 30, told her followers via TikTok on Monday, August 21, after making a video with YouTuber Vic the Game in which Leechin dressed as Swift, 33, and took photos with fans. “I collaborated with a YouTuber. The social experiment was to live a day in the life of a celebrity.”
Leechin is a TikToker with over 1.6 million followers, who has turned heads for years after being mistaken for the “Exile” singer on more than one occasion. The woman’s striking resemblance apparently made it easy for Leechin to trick some fans while out and about at Downtown Disney in Anaheim, California, and other Los Angeles hotspots on Sunday, August 20.
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The prank, however, didn’t sit well with Swift’s online community, with one TikTok user commenting, “Taylor is not a character, she’s a real person. That’s super creepy.” (Swift was in New Jersey celebrating pal Jack Antonoff‘s wedding to Margaret Qualley as the stunt was unfolding on the West Coast.)
Leechin explained on Monday that she had a “very positive experience” wearing Swift’s signature red lipstick and pretending to be the pop star despite being swarmed by crowds.
“Online you get a whole different beast,” she confessed, noting, “This video was not to be malicious. This was not to mock anyone.”
Leechin further pointed out that she feels like “within this fandom there’s a possessiveness over Taylor,” which the social media star described as “dangerous.” Leechin said that by impersonating Swift she saw how intense some of the fans could become.
In her TikTok caption, Leechin insisted that “everyone is blowing this out of proportion” and if she’d dressed up as “anyone else, it would have had a completely different outcome.” She proceeded to thank the “kind and sweet” fans she met during the joke outing, most of whom she claimed were totally OK that it was her and not the real Swift.
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“Just a friendly reminder, please do not bully any of my friends. You can bully me because it seems to be an okay thing to do in the ‘swiftie’ fandom but please do not bully my friends because they were incredible to work with,” Leechin added.
Leechin shared a follow-up explainer via Instagram on Tuesday, August 22, telling her followers that she is “an actor” who puts on a “costume [and] makeup” to act as if she’s Swift.
“You have this idea in your head that I go out every day with red lipstick and lip sync to Taylor’s music 24/7. This is not the case. I am a full-time mother who has a life outside of social media,” she wrote. “You can create whatever narrative you want about me but your words do not affect me. In the past I have tried my hardest to fit in with this fandom … so much that I even tried calling myself a ‘swiftie’ & joining in on the Easter egg hunts. That was until I realized what it meant to have to be ‘accepted.’”
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Leechin revealed that she “can support Taylor without needing any group to define that” and confirmed that she will “continue to show [her] love and support for Taylor and her music” with or without the Swiftie stamp of approval.
“I am not going to make you like me & I am certainly not going to make you understand me … I am just going to continue to live my life just as I have been doing and I hope you can too. 🖤,” she concluded.
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Vic in the Game has not publicly addressed the backlash, but the YouTuber has a history of making prank videos in which people pose as celebrities in public.
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