Billie Eilish on criticism of her style: women can be interested in multiple things

I often forget how young Billie Eilish is. She’s only 21! Up until recently she had a go-to look for red carpets and public appearances that was baggy and obscured her body. I loved that she had houses like Gucci and Chanel abandon their own aesthetics to make clothes that matched her preferences. It also seemed like a smart move in terms of self-preservation while she was a teenager with a changing body. People can’t critique your body if they can’t see it! But recently Billie’s been wearing looks that are more revealing, and fans have been giving her a hard time for it, calling her a sellout. Billie responded to her critics on Instagram stories and she had a lot to say.

The “Ocean Eyes” singer penned a message to her critics May 27 after seeing chatter about her evolving style. “i spent the first 5 years of my career getting absolutely OBLITERATED by you fools for being boy ish and dressing how i did,” she began her Instagram Story note, “& constantly being told i’d be hotter if i acted like a woman.”

“and now when i feel comfortable enough to wear anything remotely feminine or fitting,” she continued, “i CHANGED and am a sellout…and ‘what happened to her’ oMg iT’s nOt thE sAmE biLlie she’s just like the rest, bla blah…you guys are true idiots. LOL. I can be both you f–king bozos. LET WOMEN EXIST!”

The 21-year-old also shared a “fun fact” with her haters. “did you know women are multifaceted!!!!!???” she asked. “shocking right?? believe it or not, women can be interested in multiple things.”

“also femininity does not equal weakness???!!! omg?! insane right? who knew?” she added. “and also totally unheard of and insane to want to express yourself differently at different times.”

[From E!]

That last part about “femininity does not equal weakness” makes me think she’s been chatting with Lana Del Rey LOL. That’s such a Lana thing to say. Anyway, Billie’s right about all of this. She’s not a kid anymore and it’s only natural for her look to evolve as she gets older. And women can’t win–if we dress for comfort or modesty, we’ve “let ourselves go”. If we dress in a revealing way, we’re arrogant or bimbos or “asking for it”. One way or another we’re going to get shamed for something. I struggle with this myself all the time–the place where I work is 90% male, and the industry is overwhelmingly male. Most of the time I dress in a more masculine way so that they subconsciously think I am part of the same “in group” as they are. I’m camouflaging like one of those moths with fake eyes on it so it doesn’t get eaten. On rare days when I wear a dress or skirt, the men react to me completely differently but that attention doesn’t always make me feel good. It feels like they think of me as an “other,” an intruder in their masculine environment. If it feels demeaning for me to deal with that from a few people at work, I can only imagine how it feels for Billie to get that kind of flak online from lots of people.

One of the things about fandom culture I really don’t like is the gross sense of ownership from fans. To borrow from psychology, fandom culture is super codependent. Why do people think that it’s okay to try to control how their favorite pop star dresses? Or, like in Ariana Grande’s case, concern-troll her for losing weight? Why can’t people just appreciate the music they create and lay off how they look? I’m sure there are examples of this for famous men but it seems much worse with celebrity women. I’m here for Billie’s changing aesthetic, and I hope she doesn’t let the haters get in the way of dressing exactly how she wants.

Instagram Stories photos via Harper’s Bazaar, other photos credit: JPI Studios/Avalon and Vegan/Backgrid

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12 Responses to “Billie Eilish on criticism of her style: women can be interested in multiple things”

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  1. Pinkosaurus says:

    The takeaway from all of this is just simply that a woman cannot be in the public eye and avoid criticism 😢. There is no way that a woman can exist and be acceptable to all to a degree that it is not worth comment.

    • otaku fairy says:

      Exactly. By reacting this way people also tell on themselves. Whether they realize it or not, they’re admitting that the main thing they valued the woman in question for was how easy she was to weaponize against the women and girls they see as wh*res. Billie Eilish, Zendaya, Adele, and others have made it clear that they hate being used as slut-shaming tools, and people have to constantly be reminded of that.

    • BeanieBean says:

      Yep. I love that Billie can hold her own but feel badly for her that she even has to, or feel she has to.

  2. Snuffles says:

    If she’s feeling more comfortable and confident in her body, then good for her. She has every right to change her look whenever she feels like.

    That said, I can also understand how jarring it could be for her fans. The way she dressed made a very strong statement and a lot of people related to it. She was a rarity for young girls who are slammed with certain unattainable images.

    • AmyB says:

      As Billie said in this interview, she still got criticism when she dressed in loose, baggy clothes like a tomboy. AND, she came out during that time to talk about her struggles with her body image and how she was uncomfortable – hence the baggy clothes. Her point was, no matter what she did, she was getting criticism, which is a sad & depressing testament to our society.

    • Eurydice says:

      Same here. I think she should do whatever she wants and it’s difficult to be both a person and a product, but I can understand the fans, too. Social media is marketing, essentially selling a product to customers – and selling music isn’t just about the lyrics and melody, it’s about selling a message. When people have signed onto the message, it can seem like a betrayal when the message does a 180. I think both sides need to remember there are human beings behind the screen.

    • BeanieBean says:

      Oh for heaven’s sake, she grew up! Your personal style changes a lot during these years. She has zero need to consult her fans on her wardrobe.

  3. Nx2 says:

    Good for her. She wasn’t ready to be sexualized when she was a teen and helped create a trendy place for others who feel the same way. As a culture we should be letting people reach sexual maturity before we sexualize them – shame on all the entertainment businesses & social media that pressure girls so heavily. Now Billie’s ready to show more of her body and is having it on her own terms which is how it should be.

  4. Beenie says:

    Christ I’m glad social media didn’t exist when I was growing up. This is ridiculous.

  5. Cosmic Cow says:

    I also find the hysteria over girls and young women “dressing like a boy,” very unhelpful to all of us, civilian or celebrity.

    Welcome Carina. Looking forward to more of your posts!

  6. otaku fairy says:

    She’s right. Plus, let’s be real: if she, especially as a curvier teen, had not started out dressing in baggy, conservative clothes, people would have gone Qanon and played the pimped out card, she would have instantly been accused of being desperate for male attention, and that supposed attention seeking would have been used as the excuse for any and all misogynistic abuse and violence aimed her way moving forward. She would never be able to talk about any kind of traumatic experience with those things without older people who didn’t want to deal with their guilt accusing her of rewriting history, playing the victim, and saying she needed to own/have her feet held to the fire about “her own part” in the things done to her. On both sides, girls and women are still expected to earn not being treated badly by bowing down to purity culture.

    On a lighter note, I liked her Met Gala outfit and hair.