Billie Eilish Combats the Media’s Portrayal of Body Image
By JENNIFER LIM ‘20
If you have only listened to Billie Eilish’s music, chances are that you would expect her style to resemble a teenage “Instagram baddie” who wears expensive, trendy pieces that every other influencer seems to own a version of. And yet, though you find Eilish in oversized clothing with various designer logos such as Supreme or Louis Vuitton, her style is unique not only amongst her generation but also among other celebrities. In a recent My Calvin ad for Calvin Klein, she opens up about her style and her fashion choices. Eilish talks about the media and about how she does not want the world to know everything about her, including what her body looks like. She discusses how the public is not entitled to opinions and judgements about her physical appearance, which should not impact how others perceive her music.
On social media platforms and the Internet, there is very little discussion about the music the artists produce; instead, there is more attention on the artists’ personal lives and appearances. When an artist releases an album, our social media feeds fill with assumptions and rumors about which relationship or person inspired the songs on the album, but we rarely find reviews of the album itself. Alongside the public, the media often views music as an outlet to pry into artists’ personal lives.
Specifically, the media focuses on the physical appearance of the artists. Too often, the comments flooding artists’ social media accounts are compliments or critiques on their bodies, and every picture on Instagram is overly analyzed by multiple news outlets that pick apart every photo and make unwarranted, inappropriate comments about the young stars’ appearances. These comments sexualize their bodies and create an image that appeals to the public with little to no regard to the artists’ ages or talents.
This attention on physical appearance also underlines the narrow definition of beauty promoted by the media. In her My Calvin campaign, Eilish talks more about body image and the “slim-thick” body that is praised by the media. This praise of people who fit specific beauty standards, as well as the endorsement of what bodies are deemed as “attractive,” promotes unhealthy body image among both the users of social media and the readers of these articles.
In the entertainment industry, there is too much emphasis on physical appearance when it comes to success: artists who are perceived as attractive and fulfill specific beauty standards are sexualized and talked about only for how they look. Billie Eilish’s discussion of her style connects to a larger conversation about body image and the impact of physical appearance on success, especially for young female stars who are often sexualized in the media.