If you scrolled on TikTok this summer, at least on the compilation of the joys of girlhood with Billie Eilish’s sober ballad “What Was I Made For?” probably came across your FYP. The song, and its role in the Barbie movie, was a moving experience for us all: The soft piano ballad is featured in the scene where Margot Robbie’s Barbie joins hands with Ruth Handler, the creator of Barbie, to learn what it means to be a woman. Now, in a candid interview with Variety, she truly opened up about her feelings on body image, femininity, and womanhood.
In a Nov. 13 interview with Variety, Eilish stated that “being a woman is just such a war, forever,” and spoke candidly about her experience growing up in the spotlight. Eilish, known for her melodic music and her over-the-top Adam Sandler-esque fashion sense, has revealed more than once that a patriarchal view of women, the frequent sexualization of their bodies, and harsh criticism about their bodies have impacted her fashion while solidifying her feminist views about women and what they deserve.
“I have big boobs. I’ve had big boobs since I was nine years old, and that’s just the way I am. That’s how I look,” Eilish said to Variety, recalling the media’s over-the-top reaction when she, at 16, simply wore a tank top in public. “You wear something that’s at all revealing, and everyone’s like, ‘Oh, but you didn’t want people to sexualize you?’ You can suck my ass! I’m literally a being that is sexual sometimes. F*ck you!”
Eilish spoke with passion discussing her decision to reach for baggy clothes over tighter or fitted pieces, and how her perception of feminity was warped due to the media’s non-stop battering. “I’ve never felt like a woman, to be honest with you. I’ve never felt desirable,” Eilish told Variety. I’ve never felt feminine. I have to convince myself that I’m, like, a pretty girl. I identify as ‘she/her’ and things like that, but I’ve never really felt like a girl.”
This isn’t the first time that Eilish talked about her style and femininity, though. In 2019, Eilish addressed her baggy wardrobe in an interview with Elle, talking about how her decision to wear oversized pieces was impacted by the way that it created a sense of unknowing about her body, therefore removing the opinions of the media and trolls from commenting it on it. “It makes me mad. I have to wear a big shirt for you not to feel uncomfortable about my boobs,” she told Elle.
“I wasn’t trying to have people not sexualize me,” she explains during her recent Variety interview. “But I didn’t want people to have access to my body, even visually. I wasn’t strong enough and secure enough to show it. If I had shown it at that time, I would have been completely devastated if people had said anything.”
Eilish also took to social media several times to defend herself against body shamers. Most notably, in May 2023, Eilish went to her Instagram story to post about the comments she received after debuting a feminine look on the carpet of the Met Gala.
In her story, she called about commenters who had been harsh about her decisions to dress in a masculine oversized manner for years and then criticized her for wearing a feminine look at the Met Gala. “FUN FACT! Did you know that women are multifaceted!!!!!??? Shocking right?? Believe it or not, women can be interested in multiple things,” wrote Eilish on her Instagram story.
The complexities of femininity are confusing and can undoubtedly be scary, so I applaud Eilish for her relatable honesty and her ability to stand up not only for herself in the face of criticism and body shaming, but for all women.