Singer Billie Eilish may not look happy on the cover of her upcoming album, Happier Than Ever, but she does look different. She truly revealed just how different in a shoot for the UK edition of Vogue.
Some fans didn’t know what to make of a striking, very adult-looking blonde and blue-eyed Eilish in lingerie. But really, the 19-year-old singer — who has long challenged the kind of body-shaming so many famous women suffer through — is absolutely staying on point with her whole “do what I want” ethos.
The celebration of her in opposition to more scantily dressed pop girls concealed a nasty, misogynist (sometimes racist) subtext. It also hurt Eilish, negotiating her own dawning womanhood. “Because of the way that I feel that the world sees me, I haven’t felt really desired,” she says, then sighs. “But that’s really my whole life, though, so I don’t know if it’s anything to do with fame.”
She’s noticed a TV trope where as soon as a “classic hot girl” enters a relationship, she undergoes a personality transplant. “She’s this completely different character of wifey,” Eilish says, baffled. “It really f**ked me up. Everybody’s like, ‘You can’t make a wife out of a hoe’ – and it’s like, you’re attracted to that person, though. You created that person.”
If those are the terms, Eilish is out. “Suddenly you’re a hypocrite if you want to show your skin, and you’re easy and you’re a slut and you’re a whore. If I am, then I’m proud. Me and all the girls are hoes, and f**k it, y’know? Let’s turn it around and be empowered in that. Showing your body and showing your skin – or not – should not take any respect away from you.”
We only know celebs for their public image, and we make a lot of assumptions, including that accruing wealth and fame is like some kind of insulation against hurt feelings. Billie Eilish is making it clear that for a young woman growing up in such a white-hot spotlight, it’s a real emotional rollercoaster ride.
Reactions online were predictable, but definitely not universally negative.
Haters can keep hating all they want, as well — Eilish was just announced as the youngest Met Gala co-host in history and her single, “Your Power,” went to number 1 on Spotify in the US and number 3 worldwide.
Billie Eilish’s Happier Than Ever drops July 30, 2021.