Movements in Music

By Niyatee Jain

Billie Eilish’s new album, “Happier Than Ever,” tells the story of her insecurities as a young woman navigating the music industry. She talks about important issues she has dealt with including body positivity and struggling to accept her own body. In this day and age, Eilish’s album is a great example of the struggles women face with their figures. 

As a prominent celebrity for younger fans, Billie Eilish bashing societal expectations about her body is vital, as it opens more conversations about body positivity. Teenage girls fall victim to body shaming the most, but they should know that the only person who decides what happens with their body is them. 

Because Eilish is so widely known the criticism she faces is on a much larger scale. Eilish’s experiences however are ones that many teenagers face and it’s time for the negative judgment to stop.

HAPPIER THAN EVER: Billie Eilish’s sophomore album was released in late July. (Photo courtesy of Interscope Records)

Early on in her career, Eilish was famously known for wearing baggy clothing to hide her body from the public. In a Calvin Klein ad, she said she did this because if the world does not know her body, then they cannot comment on it. As a role model to many young girls, Eilish’s decision was imperative so her fans could see that a woman’s body is not the only talent they have. The focus of Eilish’s artistry shifted from her clothing and figure to her unique vocals. 

In the middle of her album, there is a beautifully spoken monologue called “Not My Responsibility.” Eilish discusses the double standards that come when women hide and reveal their bodies. At the end of the monologue, she says, “Is my value based only on your perception? Or is your opinion of me not my responsibility?” 

As one of the most influential songs in the album, “Not My Responsibility” speaks on the outrageous ideas about how a woman dresses. If she covers up, she is prudish. If she shows off her body, she is a slut. It is a never ending cycle that women cannot win. Women should be able to wear whatever they want without being judged by the world. 

The media has a huge effect on how we perceive our bodies. The beauty standards that a lot of influencers portray are impossible for women to reach because they are not real. Combined with conforming to the male gaze in order to be successful, there is a heavy burden for those who are not the ideal woman.

Eilish struggled with revealing her body to the world because she knew how the media worked. Once she showed off her figure, it would allow for people to insert their own opinions on her physique. It was clear that Eilish wanted to control the narrative about her appearance. 

In May of 2021, Billie Eilish was on the cover of British Vogue wearing skin-tight clothing, a change from the baggy clothing fans are used to seeing her in. Eilish has the hourglass figure that celebrities such as Kim Kardashian have made famous, something that caused both positive and negative commentary.

In the bridge of Eilish’s song “OverHeated,” Eilish sings “And everybody said it was a letdown / I was only built like everybody else now / But I didn’t get a surgery to help out / ‘Cause I’m not about to redesign myself now, am I?” This speaks levels to how it must feel for Eilish to reveal her body. 

It took Eilish a lot of confidence to do something she was not known for, so it was heartbreaking to see the reactions.

 When Eilish was finally comfortable with her body, she was hit with rumors of her body not being real. It is difficult to understand why people feel the need to make comments about women’s bodies, bodies that are not their own. All bodies should be accepted, surgery or not. It is not anyone’s place to speak on someone else’s figure because it is their body and they should be able to do what they want.

Although in Eilish’s album it was refreshing to hear comments about body positivity being explicitly said, it was nice to hear from someone who has experienced the harsh realities of being in the spotlight. The truth is that there is still much change to be done. We as a society need to enforce the beliefs that no woman needs to listen to someone else’s opinions when it comes to their body.