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Billie Eilish on Vogue: Stop Sexualizing Young Women!

As many of you probably know, over the last two weeks Billie Eilish has been a popular topic of conversation among social media and news stories alike due to her appearance on the front cover of Vogue this June.

While it’s undeniable that she looks absolutely gorgeous, with her blonde hair and elegant “custom Burberry trench and corseted body, with Mugler stocking boots”, this cover certainly begs the question of why society thinks it’s ok to sexualize the body of a nineteen-year-old. It’s actually uncomfortable to read some of the articles and comments about her Vogue cover, especially knowing that Billie is my age (just nineteen, and so, so talented!) and being subjected to such unnecessary commentary.

Even before Billie was ‘legally’ an adult, I remember hearing of some people who were actually WAITING for her to turn eighteen, just so they could, I suppose, feel less guilty for declaring their crush on her. And this is where the problem lies, how does this make you any better of a person just for waiting one whole day past legal adulthood? Just because she turns eighteen, doesn’t mean she can automatically be sexualized. Creepy old men fancying a young adult doesn’t seem any less predatory to me.

One of the worst articles written about Billie’s Vogue cover was written by The Daily Mail, declaring, “Proof that money can make you change your values and ‘sell out’: Billie Eilish shocks fans by swapping baggy clothes for lingerie in Vogue — despite years of vowing to ‘hide her body”, for their headline. This really upset me to read, because why should we, as women, be judged for a simple change in wardrobe? Just because she’s doing a photoshoot without ‘baggy’ clothes doesn’t mean that she has altered her ‘values’ or changed as a person. It’s also worth noting that Billie “vow[ed] to ‘hide her body’”, so that “nobody can have an opinion because they haven’t seen what’s underneath. Nobody can be like, ‘she’s slim-thick,’ ‘she’s not slim-thick,’ ‘she’s got a flat ass,’ ‘she’s got a fat ass.’ No one can say any of that because they don’t know”, as she said in a 2019 Calvin Klein ad.

Billie, like so many women (including myself), struggles with issues of body image, so I can only imagine how harmful a headline like the Daily Mail’s must feel. What Billie chooses to wear is ultimately her choice, and her choice only, and as she captions her Instagram post, “I love these pictures and I loved doing this shoot. Do whatever you want whenever you want. F*ck everything else”. I’m 100% behind her with this caption, don’t wear things to please other people, it’s your body and you should be able to do what you want with it! Sometimes wearing what you feel like wearing feels like a big leap, but as Billie said, it’s ultimately YOUR decision, and nobody else should be able to have a say.

Back in October 2020, Billie was caught on camera walking in a vest top, which I’m sure feels like no big deal to most of us. However, this image broke the internet with people commenting on her body. Billie, in her recent Vogue interview, stated that “It made me really offended when people were like, ‘good for her for feeling comfortable in her bigger skin,’”…and rightfully so! Whether comments were meant in a ‘body positive’ way, why should she simply walking outside in a vest top make her an icon for body positivity? Does it not just simply make her a person who wears what they want? When people begin to comment on Billie simply wearing a tighter top, even if intended in a nice way, it’s naturally going to give people even more of a platform to spew hate and judgement over a young adult’s body.

Ultimately, I just want people to remember how amazing of a singer Billie is, and while we can all appreciate how gorgeous she looked in June’s Vogue cover, let’s not forget how young she is; she doesn’t deserve to be faced with judgement and sexualization from every-which angle. What you wear doesn’t define you as a person, and ultimately nobody else should get to have an opinion on your body and how you style it, other than yourself!

 

Words by: Ellen Churchyard

Edited by: Yasmine Moro Virion

Hi! I'm Ellen, 19, a first year English Literature student at the University of Leeds.
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