Since she exploded onto the indie pop scene in 2017, talk about Billie Eilish‘s clothes, body, style and sexuality has been so prevalent and loud that it almost eclipsed her extraordinary talent. Images of her body in a tank top were leaked and discussed at length while she was simultaneously called “not feminine” because of the baggy clothes she wore to hide said body. She was subject to one of the most vile forms of online rape culture, the “time until 18” countdown clock while simultaneously being criticized for her lyrics being too “adult for her age. And all this before she was 18.
Possibly more than any female musical artist before her, Billie Eilish has been a study in the hypocrisy surrounding how women are still viewed in 2020, despite the progress made by the #metoo movement and other strides feminism has taken recently. No matter what Eilish has done in her short yet remarkable career, she’s been criticized and objectified for it, and this barely 18 pop star is not unaware.
Two days ago, Eilish posted a video on her Instagram which heretofore she had only shared at her shows. In the beautifully-produced interlude piece, Billie describes exactly everything she’s been subjected to by popular culture as she strips down from her trademark black hoodie to a bra. It’s goosebump-inducingly poignant and the language is deliberate: she refers to “my” body, “my” stomach, “my” clothes, “my, my my” until the end where she only gives ownership to the collective “you” at the very end: “your opinion is not my responsibility.”
The video is stark and lush, designed to make people uncomfortable and states in no uncertain terms why Billie Eilish does what she does with her clothes, hair, style and body. “Because they’re mine.” She’s not taking back ownership of anything, as so many women, in music and everywhere else, have felt they had to do for centuries. She declares she’s always had ownership and she will continue to do so. She also states very clearly that those things are not what makes her what she is; that would make her an object.
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This video shows that Billie Eilish her experience are not only a study in how women are viewed in popular culture and society at large, she’s an example of the type of woman who knows exactly what to do to start to change that viewpoint. She’s a woman who won’t accept anything but respect and by simply being herself, declares that not only can society’s views on women change, they absolutely will. It’s a promise because from now on, those views are not our responsibility.
View the video on YouTube below: