It’s not uncommon for Billie Eilish, who has five Grammys and multiple chart-topping hits, to be the hot topic of conversation. But currently, the singer-songwriter is trending because of her body. Known for a more covered-up style, Eilish recently dared to step out in Los Angeles, Calif., wearing a spaghetti strap tank top and sweat shorts on a hot day and got the media, fans and trolls buzzing.
According to the Daily Mail, baggy clothes are Eilish’s trademark and her outfit was uncharacteristically casual. Page Six’s headline noted her show of skin. These articles, and other outlets that posted the paparazzi photo, unleashed the negativity of a slew of commenters judging the almost 19-year-old singer’s body type. The tank exposed her shoulders and upper back (gasp!) and “barely contained her curves” wrote The Blast.
Others went on the defense to unpack the sexualization and shaming of Eilish in the oh-so-revealing tank.
it’s disgusting to see the comments on billie eilish’s body, she’s literally 18, the amount of people body shaming her makes me wanna puke— 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐚 ☾. (@LAVIDAPRADA) October 12, 2020
can’t wait for the day when billie eilish stops getting judged for wearing tank tops outside of her baggy clothes aesthetic. pic.twitter.com/8CvVcDaqdZ— saniyah (@eilishswifts) October 12, 2020
billie eilish has the most common and not at all unhealthy body. its not her fault there is an unrealistic beauty standard out there that dictates you need to be size 4 or less. She makes music. Her body has nothing to do with the angelic voice she has.— raging feminist (@crrentlyunav) October 13, 2020
Billie Eilish is beautiful! PLEASE, do not body shame her, or anyone for that matter. Body shaming is not “news” or “gossip” it’s HARMFUL and UNACCEPTABLE.— Jessie Paege (@jessiepaege) October 14, 2020
Regardless of Eilish’s body proportions and other people’s opinions about it, her multiple awards, accolades and 67.1 million Instagram followers say her worth isn’t based on her degree of mass sex appeal. She is not, after all, a model. Still, she is questioned about her aesthetic and bullied by those who want her to fit into the cookie-cutter image of a pop star.
Perhaps Eilish pushes back because she understands the mental impact of society’s demands on the feminine aesthetic. She told Vogue in her March 2020 cover story that her depression, which she often sings about, was linked to events in her early adolescence but also, how she felt about herself at the time.
“I just hated my body. I would have done anything to be in a different one,” Eilish told the magazine. “I really wanted to be a model, really bad, and I was chubby and short. I developed really early. I had bοοbs at nine. I got my period at 11.”
While her baggy clothes became her way to hide and distract herself from her body, she found the larger power in it. The singer explained that she made baggy clothes her aesthetic trying to combat the sexualization, shaming and double standards placed on her as a celebrity but also as a young woman. In other words, if your body can’t be seen, no one can have an opinion. Unfortunately, as this week’s news continues to prove, that can’t be further from the truth.
Eilish’s short film “Not My Responsibility,” originally made for her tour which began in early March of 2020, was posted in its entirety on YouTube after the tour’s cancellation due to COVID-19. In under four minutes, Eilish discusses her clothes, her body and society’s not just double but, unrealistic, standards of women. Clearly, not enough people were listening.
In the midst of this tank scandal, Eilish took her to Instagram Stories to repost Chizi Duru’s video asking us to normalize real bodies. Duru writes in the caption that “Instagram has warped a lot of y’all into thinking NORMAL bodies are abnormal. NO.”
It’s no secret that many of these “ideal” bodies are distorted, either by editing software or plastic surgery, which can cause mental issues, not just for social media consumers but those doing the posting. Overwhelming research exists about the negative impact of social media. In the Florida House Experience’s study of 1,000 men and women, the healthcare institution found that most people, 87 percent of women and 65 percent of men, compare their bodies to images they consume on social and traditional media. However, half of women and only 37 percent of men admit to comparing their bodies to those images unfavorably.
It doesn’t have to be that way. While social media and body image are inextricably linked, posts like Duru’s video can have a positive effect by calling out what’s actually abnormal.
Guess Eilish doesn’t even need to explain the need for her atypical image choice anymore, her wearing weather-appropriate attire proves her point. The conversation isn’t going to stop but self-confidence, the literal rejection of others' ideals, is where it’s at.
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