Billie’s Body: The Culture of Body Shaming

Billie Eilish has exponentially risen to fame in the last few years, renowned for her ‘baggy’ streetwear style as shown by “her gender-neutral style to the Grammys with a neon green, crystal-embellished Gucci bowling shirt and jogging pants” (Lindsay Weinberg 2020). In an interview for Calvin Klein’s 2019 campaign, “I Speak My Truth In #MyCalvins”, Eilish divulged that her style sparked from her desire for the world not to “know everything about [her]”. She goes on to explain that if she wears oversized clothes, nobody can see what is beneath the clothes and thus cannot form an opinion or judgement on her body.

Eilish is aware of the objectification that women in the entertainment industry undergo, and I think that her decision to wear such clothes is a statement, since she is neither dressing in compliance nor conformation with societal standards. This draws more attention to her, yet not her body, but to her clothing choices and this fascination with her fashion could lead to greater publicity and in turn her music reaching a wider audience.

Many people would jump to the conclusion that Eilish makes this clothing decision to avoid body shaming, however she emphasises that sexualisation is almost a bigger issue for her. She has stated people have implored her to “dress like a girl for once! Wear tight clothes you’d be much prettier, and your career would be so much better!” (NME). Eilish completely rejects this statement, and rightly so, as ultimately what an artist wears should have no impact on their ability or the music they produce. She also notes that a man would not receive such a reception for his clothing choices. I think there is a tendency to sexualise women in a bid for them to sell more records and this has now become ingrained in the industry. For instance, how many album covers have you seen featuring a half-naked woman? This could have little relevance to the album’s contents but is instead a ploy to boost sales. It is interesting that Billie gains so much attention for being one to go against the grain and cover up. The very fact she feels obliged to explain her clothing choices demonstrates the blatant sexism inherent in the music industry. Instead, her clothes have become an extension of her identity as an ‘artist.’

Recently, Eilish was snapped wearing shorts and a tank top. When you type her name into google, this fact is actually one of the top suggestions alongside her “age”, “net worth” and “songs”. One singular picture is up there alongside all of her award-winning songs! She received a torrent of body-shaming as she wore this innocuous outfit – why can she not wear anything without people having an opinion? Because people in the public eye are constantly being scrutinised. Eilish is only 18 years old herself and is subject to living her life under a microscope, ready to be criticised at any moment. People who shame the bodies of others might be the most insecure when it comes to their own.

Comparing ourselves to others is unhealthy but becoming increasingly common in society. Celebrities are an obvious choice to compare ourselves to as, with all the media available today, their entire lives are fed to us on a plate and we may pick them apart as we please. As long as celebrities are placed on a societal pedestal, people will constantly compare themselves and model themselves on the stars. Our fascination with the lives of celebrities will probably never subside, and comparing ourselves to them won’t either. However, maybe we need to learn that everybody has imperfections, everybody is different, and everybody is brilliant. If we all spent less time tearing down others and instead celebrated our individuality, perhaps the world would be a more joyous place to live.

-Kate Legister

Featured Image Source: Still via Genius / Youtube

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