Not Her Responsibility: Billie Eilish on Body Image

By: Emma Sweeney

Billie Eilish has won five Grammys, two American Music Awards, and broke two Guinness World Records at only 19 years old. Despite this, the discussion in the media has been centered on her body.   

             Eilish is known for her unique style which includes baggy clothes. She not only uses her clothes to express her individuality, but to escape from society’s expectations of what a young woman should look like.

Eilish said, “I never want the world to know everything about me. I mean, that’s why I wear big, baggy clothes. Nobody can have an opinion because they haven’t seen what’s underneath, you know?”

Eilish played a short film titled “Not My Responsibility” during her When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? world tour. She released the video on YouTube on May 26th, 2020 and it gained over 32 million views.

The film begins with Eilish saying: “Do you know me? Really know me? You have 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.”

In the video, she unzips her hoodie and is seen sinking into a murky pool filled with black water, making direct eye contact with the camera.

Women praised Eilish for advocating for body positivity and for inspiring them to share their own stories with body struggles.

One user on Twitter said, “I don’t have a lot of self-love towards my body. But thanks to a certain green-haired girl I manage to find a little more every day.”

Last year, Eilish was scrutinized by social media after being pictured in a tank top, which raised concerns about unrealistic bodies women are expected to live up to, even in our evolved society.

People defended Eilish. One user, Jessie Page, said on Twitter: “Billie Eilish is beautiful! Please, do not body shame her, or anyone for that matter. Body shaming is not “news” or “gossip,” it is harmful and unacceptable.”

On November 12, 2020, Billie Eilish released a song with an accompanying music video called “Therefore I Am,” which is theorized to be her response to body- shamers.

In the music video, she is seen running through an abandoned mall, with the camera following her, grabbing whatever snacks she wants along the way. She shows that she is in control and she does not care about people’s opinions on her appearance.

She sings: “Stop, what are you talking about? Get my pretty name out of your mouth. We are not the same with or without. Don’t talk about me like you might know how I feel.”

Additionally, Billie Eilish is set to release a documentary on February 26th called “Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry,” which will address Eilish’s experience with being under constant watch at a young age.

It is difficult to be comfortable in your own skin when celebrities- who are seen as untouchable- are constantly critiqued for their “imperfections.”

Eilish’s experience dealing with body shamers reflects the disappointing reality of our society- where a woman wearing a tank top suddenly becomes a topic of debate. The world has evolved- with an emphasis on equality and acceptance- but Eilish’s experience questions our society’s improvement.

Sexism and superficiality have been present in the media for far too long and needs to be stopped.

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