A Taylor Swift look-alike is shaking off backlash after impersonating the pop star in a prank.
Ashley Leechin, a TikToker with over 1.6 million followers who bears a striking resemblance to Taylor, recently made waves when she collaborated with YouTuber Vic In the Game for what she described as a "social experiment" to see what it was like to live a day as a high-profile celebrity. Donning large sunglasses and Taylor's signature red lipstick, Ashley was accompanied by bodyguards as she visited various tourist attractions in Los Angeles, resulting in mobs of fans following her around.
Though Ashley had a "positive experience" with Swifties in-person when it was revealed to them that she was an impersonator, the 30-year-old said online criticism she's since received over the stunt has made her question the fandom.
"This is terrible to do," one TikTok user commented, while another Swiftie wrote, "Taylor is not a character, she's a real person. That's super creepy."
Ashley said in an Aug. 21 TikTok, "This video was not to be malicious."
Referencing how Swifties swarmed Jack Antonoff and Margaret Qualley's wedding venue over the weekend in order to catch a glimpse of Taylor, who was attending the nuptials as a guest, Ashley went on to acknowledge the timing of the prank as "horrific."
"I don't follow Taylor's every move," the social media star said, "so with everything that happened, I was definitely late finding out a lot of that stuff."
However, she accused the fandom of being too involved in Taylor's private life. "I feel like that possessiveness can get dangerous," she said, adding that the impersonation stunt "did show" that side of some Swifties. "I had such a positive experience in person and then, of course, online you get a whole different beast."
Ashley continued in the caption of her video that the backlash has gotten "out of proportion," writing, "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."
Since the stunt, Ashley said she's realized there are two sides to the fandom. "There's a difference between a Taylor Swift fan—you can love her music, you can love her as a person, you can look up to her—and then there are Swifties," she shared on TikTok. "They are completely two different groups."
Ashley explained how she struggles with fitting into the "narrative" of a Swiftie despite looking like Taylor.
"If you don't fit exactly what they want you to look like, to talk like," she shared, "they're not going to accept you."
Vic In the Game has not publicly addressed the criticism, though it's not uncommon for the content creator to pull pranks involving celebrity impersonators. In the past, he has filmed videos with look-alikes of Bad Bunny, Maluma and The Weeknd to find out how fans would react seeing them in public settings.