Billie Eilish just made an incredibly powerful speech about how people use her body and clothing to shame her, and some of the responses prove exactly how prevalent this problem still is.
There’s one thing we can all agree on in 2020: when Billie Eilish talks, we listen. Aside from making killer music, the Grammy-winning artist is always powerfully tackling the issues faced by women, including climate change, sexism in the music industry and social media trolling.
One subject that she’s always had a powerful stance on is body-shaming. In her 2019 advert for Calvin Klein, Eilish made a case for just how toxic body-shaming comments can be. She also talked about the “slut-shaming” undertones found in conversations about her decision to wear baggy clothes.
Now, Eilish has taken her body-shaming message to the next level while on tour in Miami.
In a video played on a screen during her performance, Eilish is plunged into a pool of tar. While this is happening, she talks about the sexist conversations around her clothing and body.
Her full statement reads: “Do you really know me? You have opinions about my opinions, about my music, about my clothes, about my body. Some people hate what I wear, some people praise it. Some people use it to shame others, some people use it to shame me. But I feel you watching, always, and nothing I do goes unseen, so while I feel your stares, your disapproval or your sighs of relief, if I lived by them, I’d never be able to move.”
“Would you like me to be smaller? Weaker? Softer? Taller? Would you like me to be quiet? Do my shoulders provoke you? Does my chest? Am I my stomach? My hips? The body I was born with, is it not what you wanted?
“If what I wear is comfortable, I am not a woman. If I shed the layers, I am a slut. Though you’ve never seen my body, you still judge it and judge me for it. Why? You make assumptions about people based on their size. We decide who they are. We decide what they’re worth.
“If I wear more, if I wear less, who decides what that makes me? What that means? Is my value based only on your perception? Or is your opinion of me not my responsibility?”
But while the response has been largely positive, the way the speech has been relayed by some tabloids just proves Eilish’s point entirely. That’s because they focus on the fact that Eillish takes off her top seconds before fully submerging into the pool of tar.
“Billie Eilish strips down in a new video to condemn body shamers,” reads one headline, alongside a screenshot of the moment Eilish takes off her top.
“Billie Eilish strips to her bra to make bold statement on start of her world tour,” reads another, alongside the very same screenshot.
Yes, Eillish does take her top off, and it’s another powerful move to further highlight her point. But the objectifying wording and screenshots should not distract us from Eilish’s real power here: her words.