Billie Eilish has truly had one of the biggest success stories in the music industry. After winning in all four big categories at the Grammy’s and charting number one with her album “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” Eilish has already had a career most just dream about; and she’s only 18-years-old.
Eilish started her world tour this week in Miami, Florida, and she kicked it off with a powerful statement about body image, social media, and society’s obsession with how someone looks. Eilish has always been criticized for the way she dresses, often in baggy designer clothes that are five times bigger than her actual clothing size. She’s been very public in the past over why this is; as her entire career so far has occurred while Eilish was still under the age of 18, and she hated the idea of older individuals judging her and objectifying her body, especially as an underage individual.
During an interlude between songs at the first show, a video clip of Eilish appeared on the massive screens illuminating the stage. The clip showed her in a black sweatshirt as soft lighting illuminated different parts of her body. As the lighting faded in and out, Eilish began taking off her sweatshirt and then shirt, while a powerful monologue from Eilish herself played in the background.
“Some people hate what I wear, some people praise it. Some people use it to shame others, some people use it to shame me. But I feel you watching, always. And nothing I do goes unseen. Would you like me to be smaller? Weaker? Softer? Taller? Would you like me to be quiet? Do my shoulders provoke you? Does my chest? Am I my stomach? My hips? The body I was born with, is it not what you wanted?” she said.
Eilish has also recently been very public with the fact that it’s impossible to live in the spotlight and not feel like you’re being constantly scrutinized for your choices as an entertainer and individual. At last month’s Brit Awards, she admitted to feeling very hated, and went on to say in a speech, “So while I feel your stares, your disapproval or your sighs of relief, if I lived by them, I’d never be able to move.”
As the interlude concludes, Eilish is heard criticizing society’s obsession with celebrities body types, and leaves the audience with a question before beginning her next set; “Is my value based only on your perception? Or is your opinion of me not my responsibility?” As previously stated, this isn’t the first time Eilish has been public about her anger over the double standard of how the media talks about male artists versus female artists.
“I wear what I want to wear, but of course, everyone sees it as ‘she’s saying no to being sexualised’ and ‘she’s saying no to being the stereotypical female’. The positive [comments] about how I dress have this slut-shaming element, and I can’t [overstate how] strongly I do not appreciate that, at all, I don’t like that there’s this weird new world of supporting me by shaming people that [may not] want to [dress like me],” she said to V magazine in 2019.
Eilish is among many female artists who have always expressed their disappointment in how much the industry still focuses on image and overall aesthetics. Recently, Lizzo took to Tik Tok to criticize the app itself for body shaming her by deleting her posts whenever she poses in a swimsuit. Taylor Swift also recently discussed her past struggles with an eating disorder in her new Netflix documentary Miss Americana.
Individuals like Eilish, Swift, and Lizzo are using their massive platforms to speak out against outdated patriarchal views of how the typical female artist “should look,” as there is no one way, and the real focus needs to be on the music they create. Eilish has become the youngest individual to clear out all big four categories at the Grammy’s, and is the first artist in general to do so since the 1980’s, but sure, keep judging her baggy designer pants. The full transcript of Eilish’s interlude speech is below:
“Do you really know me? You have opinions about my opinions, about my music, about my clothes, about my body. Some people hate what I wear, some people praise it. Some people use it to shame others, some people use it to shame me. But I feel you watching … always. And nothing I do goes unseen. So while I feel your stares, your disapproval or your sighs of relief, if I lived by them, I’d never be able to move. Would you like me to be smaller? Weaker? Softer? Taller? Would you like me to be quiet? Do my shoulders provoke you? Does my chest? Am I my stomach? My hips? The body I was born with, is it not what you wanted? If what I wear is comfortable, I am not a woman. If I shed the layers, I am a slut. Though you’ve never seen my body, you still judge it and judge me for it. Why? You make assumptions about people based on their size. We decide who they are. We decide what they’re worth. 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”
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.