When Billie Eilish first garnered the attention of millions around the world a few years ago, it was immediately evident that she was different from any other pop star we’d ever seen. Every other famous songstress, like Britney Spears, Selena Gomez, or Ariana Grande, had something in common: their sex appeal, an aspect of themselves that they were encouraged to embrace at an extremely young age.
From Britney’s sexualized choreography and being asked about her breasts by a male talk show host at just 17 years old, to Selena’s recent claims of being pressured to “show skin” and sexualize herself in music videos, it’s no secret that young women in the entertainment industry are expected to flaunt what they’ve got, often resulting in their bodies becoming a commodity for society to ogle at and pick apart. And then, Billie Eilish came along.
Eilish Was the First of Her Kind
As Eilish rose to fame, one of the first things mentioned about her was her distinct sense of style — namely, her tendency to wear exceptionally baggy clothes, concealing her frame and leaving us without any idea of what her body looked like. For the first time, the world had a female pop star whose body we knew absolutely nothing about.
Eilish didn’t want anyone’s opinions about her body to become the centerpiece of her music career.
Eventually, her reasons for wearing such clothing came to light: she didn’t want anyone’s opinions about her body to become the centerpiece of her career, as many young women in the spotlight have unfortunately experienced in the past. “It kind of gives nobody the opportunity to judge what your body looks like,” she told Vogue Australia in an interview.
Still, as soon as a paparazzi photo of her dressed in a tank top and shorts was released, Twitter users felt the freedom to share their merciless, unwarranted opinions on her body, jumping at their chance to finally tear down an 18-year-old girl whose body they felt entitled to know everything about.
Our Obsession with Women’s Bodies
Oddly enough, 18-year-old Eilish’s body has been the topic of many a discussion, whether or not she’s shown it or kept it hidden: “If what I wear is comfortable, I am not a woman. If I shed the layers, I am a slut. Some people hate what I wear, some people praise it. Some people use it to shame others, some people use it to shame me,” Eilish expressed at her concert in March 2020, during which she took off her sweatshirt to reveal a tank top underneath, showing far more skin to the public than ever before.
“If what I wear is comfortable, I am not a woman. If I shed the layers, I am a slut.”
And she’s not wrong — our society is far too comfortable expressing their opinions of any young woman’s body, pressuring them to look a certain way or behave in a particular manner. Adele’s fuller figure in her early career was a constant topic of discussion, praised by body positivity proponents — until she lost some weight earlier this year, that is. Either way, her body shape has never been a sidelined subject. Taylor Swift, known for her tall, thin frame, spoke up about her struggle with an eating disorder, having faced attacks for either being “too thin” or having pregnancy rumors circulate because her stomach wasn’t perfectly flat.
It’s safe to say that in our culture, women’s bodies are not considered their own — instead, they’re a product that we demand to know intimately, before shaming their natural form and declaring them either too thin or too heavy.
Billie Eilish’s Body Isn’t Any of Our Business
For the better part of her career, Billie Eilish was a legal minor — which makes unsolicited comments about her body even worse. It’s saddening that our culture’s treatment of women’s bodies has created an environment in which an extraordinarily young, highly-talented artist like Eilish feels the need to hide her body from the world, seeing it as the only way of keeping the conversation around her music.
Billie Eilish is only 18 years old, just barely a woman. Her body truly is none of our business, whether or not she continues to keep it concealed. Her desire to maintain mystery is entirely respectable and understandable, given the undue treatment so many young women before her have received. It’s time that we stop questioning her unconventional fashion sense and stop caring about what a teenager’s body looks like under all those layers and instead focus on her incredible talent.
I think we can all agree that the oversexualization and constant, unprovoked opinions of any woman’s body, especially that of a teenager’s, is objectionable. Billie Eilish has opened the door to this conversation — and whether or not her style ever changes, it’s important that we recognize our culture’s poor treatment of young women’s bodies and do something to change it.