Billie Eilish has been making waves through the entertainment industry for well over a year now, but many are still confounded by this young singer’s fan following. At a time when we’re so used to seeing pop artists follow the same formulas in their style, fashion and public persona, Billie’s approach is a breath of fresh air.
She may have only turned eighteen a couple of months ago but she exudes so much confidence in each and every appearance that grown women like myself can’t help but feel a bit intimidated.
But we often forget that Billie is fighting her own battles behind the scenes, especially as a young female artist repeatedly placed into the spotlight.
First of all, it’s worth mentioning how Billie never shies away from being unconventional. Her songs, for example, have been described as morose, adult, eerie and just plain weird sometimes. She fashions grills, retainers, thick golden necklaces, green-dyed hair, and unusually baggy clothing. She has been largely forthcoming with her struggle with Tourettes’ syndrome as well.
These details about her fashion identity and musical style set her apart from the majority of female artists out there.
Yet at the same time, she faces the same criticisms about her choices and physical appearance like most other female entertainers out there. As women, we’re constantly told to measure ourselves to other women and fault ourselves for not being enough. Sometimes it feels like we’re running in circles.
That’s why it’s worth looking at how Billie Eilish deals with these comparisons and criticisms; we think she may have tapped into something unique with her fashion choices.
You may have noticed so far that Billie Eilish is mostly, if not always, seen in enormously baggy clothes. In terms of standard sizing, we can safely say her clothes are a few sizes too big for her. We’ve seen a number of female celebrities learning to embrace their bodies by showing more skin, and that can be so empowering in its own right.
But Billie’s choice to not let the public see her body or its natural dimensions stems from an incredibly thoughtful place: she doesn’t want to share what’s underneath.
She said in a Calvin Klein commercial that if nobody can see what her body looks like, no one can develop opinions on it. They can’t say she is slim, they can’t say she is fat; she gets to control her own narrative by not letting people create their own.
It’s a genius move, we have to say. In the age of paparazzi and social media, celebrities and their personal lives are continually mined for public consumption. Their diehard fans battle it out on Twitter on their behalf, arguing about who has better music, who has the better fashion sense, who has the hottest boyfriend; the list goes on.
Billie’s decision to protect herself by covering up hard is admirable on so many levels. To think that she had the ability to foresee the viciousness of the media so early into the career proves her maturity without a doubt.
But the plan hasn’t always been so successful. Last year, Billie talked about how major outlets were writing about how she was caught hanging out her tour bus with a tank top. That’s all it took for people to start making grand assumptions about her body again.
Billie Eilish to Vogue
MAYBE PEOPLE SEE ME AS A RULE-BREAKER BECAUSE THEY THEMSELVES FEEL LIKE THEY HAVE TO FOLLOW RULES, AND HERE I AM NOT DOING IT. THAT’S GREAT, IF I CAN MAKE SOMEONE FEEL MORE FREE TO DO WHAT THEY ACTUALLY WANT TO DO INSTEAD OF WHAT THEY ARE EXPECTED TO DO.
Many publications, outlets and individuals have discussed at length at what Billie’s baggy clothes really represent, but to Billie, she just wears what she wants. She doesn’t do it to drum up controversy or to be a spokesperson for body positivity. She’s also not in the least interested in slut-shaming women who do the opposite, who are not afraid of showing skin and revealing their bodies.
In fact, this Monday, as her world tour kicked off in Miami, Billie followed in their very footsteps. In a landmark video interlude, she is seen removing her layers of clothing one by one until she is down to only her bra. She is then seeing disappearing into a pool of tar.
It’s the first time she’s voluntarily chosen to bare her body so openly. Her video was set to her own voice speaking in the background.
If I wear more, if I wear less, who decides what that makes me? What that means? Is my value based only on your perception? Or is your opinion of me not my responsibility?Billie Eillish
She basically called out all the people who judge women based on their bodies. She pointed out that women are usually expected to wear uncomfortable clothes, sometimes purely for fulfilling cultural expectations. If they shed it all, they’re then labelled as sluts. She addressed in that video what most women have known for years: more often than not, our value is measured by our appearances.
Yet we have to admit that the work being done by the younger generation regarding this inequality is significant too. As long as Billie is able to raise awareness about body positivity and why it’s important for women to support and lift one another up, we have a true hero within our midst.
Our values have never been in our physical appearance; it’s always been in our personalities, in our behavior, in our relationships, in our passions and in our ideas.
So if Billie Eilish at just eighteen can overcome her insecurities and tell the world just how much she values herself, then we must follow in her footsteps and develop the same amount of respect for our bodies and our self-esteem. Baggy clothes or bare skin — women need to feel valued in every decision they make.
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