Was Taylor Swift photographed wearing a hat made of pieced-together preserved faces skinned from real human beings? No, that's not true on two points: The model in the photo is not pop star Swift but the special effects artist who partnered in making the hat, Kayla Arena. And the hat is made from latex, silicone, crepe hair and synthetic eyelashes -- not human body parts.
A screenshot of a post falsely identifying the woman in the photo as Taylor Swift was posted by an Instagram account that no longer exists, @upmyvibeagain. It has been circulating at least since December 13, 2021, as evidenced by a post mocking the claim on the Reddit forum r/insanepeoplefacebook. The screenshot resurfaced on X (formerly Twitter) on November 28, 2023, in a post by @BabyD1111229 (archived here). The post was captioned:
Remember when I posted this about 2 weeks ago...does it make sense now? Pizzagate is real #truth
Text at the bottom of the @upmyvibeagain screenshot image reads:
And you allow your children to idolise these freaks😫
This is what the post looked like on Twitter at the time of writing:
(Source: X screenshot taken on Thu Nov 30 19:05:12 2023 UTC)
This hat is not made of human faces, but modern special effects sculpture materials. The hat and other objects in the series like shoes, purses, lampshades, wallets and jackets were inspired by the crimes of Ed Gein, a Wisconsin serial killer and grave robber who, when tried was found to be criminally insane. On October 15, 2016, (pictured below) a post on the Facebook page of artist Kayla Arena FX offered the hat for sale, describing it:
Let us know what you think!! Tag a friend who would love this !Ed Gein inspired Skin Gein HatArtist: Kayla Arena and Toby Barron (TKFX)FX page PLEASE LIKE >>>A Gein style cap transformed into this eye catching Horrifically captivating oddity that you see before you. All detail is hand made and designed in Queensland Australia by Kayla Arena and Toby Barron. Made from Latex and silicone,crepe hair and synthetic eyelashes. Feels amazing to touch and will creep out your family and friends!
The post includes seven photos of the hat on three different models. The second photo in the series is the image that appears in the @upmyvibeagain screenshot. The face of the female model is mostly obscured by the brim of the hat. There is no suggestion in Arena's original post that the model is Swift. The model has dark hair and multiple piercings in her left ear, including one uncommon placement through the cartilage known as a conch piercing. This piercing and distinct ear shape are a match with other photos of Arena when she models her creations. Swift does not have this piercing and does not have similar ears.
Lead Stories reached out to Arena by email on November 30, 2023, for comment and will update this article if we do receive a response. In a November 30, 2023, fact check by Snopes, Toby Barron, who worked with Arena on these creations, was quoted -- Barron identified the model in the photo as Arena.