A tweet by a 29-year-old man body-shaming the Grammy-winning artist went viral, and Eilish’s figure became the centre of public debate. As fans and body positivity advocates surged to her defence, the photo gained more traction while what felt like the entire internet weighed in on how it felt about Eilish’s appearance.
Eilish is notorious for wearing baggy clothes that hide her figure, and she’s stated that she does this specifically to avoid speculation surrounding her body and appearance. With the public’s reaction to Billie wearing a simple tank top, it’s clear that her fears were warranted.
The media reaction to the photo didn’t exactly discourage the body-shaming debate: with headlines emphasizing how Eilish “ditched” her usual baggy look, tabloids were far more concerned with clicks than integrity. She responded to the body-shaming by posting a TikTok on her Instagram story encouraging people to “normalize real bodies.”
Eilish’s acclaim is in no way tied to her appearance. It’s true that by putting herself in the public eye, she’s opened herself up to criticism—as a wildly successful teen artist, it’s perfectly valid for the public to have opinions on her music, voice, and lyrics. But her body never needed to be part of that discussion.
This isn’t an issue that begins and ends with Eilish. For years, celebrities’ accomplishments—particularity those of young women—have been overshadowed by discussions about their physical appearance. Whether they were body-shamed like Eilish or sexualized like 16-year-old Millie Bobby Brown, it’s a conversation that detracts from the incredible feats these young women have accomplished.
It’s easy to pretend celebrities aren’t going to see online comments about them or that their body image will somehow remain unaffected by public debate, but Billie Eilish is just as human as anyone else. A large following doesn’t eliminate the negative emotional impacts that come with being a victim of cyberbullying. It’s something the media and everyday people should give consideration to before publishing a story or sending a tweet.
At the end of the day, Billie Eilish is so much more than her body and her clothes. At 18, the artist already has five Grammys Awards, two AMAs, and three MTV Video Music Awards. She holds multiple Guinness World Records and was the first artist born in the 21st century to have a song reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Eilish’s debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, featured a unique sound that has given new life to the pop music industry and accumulated millions of sales and streams.
Eilish is barely two years into her career and has already seen unprecedented success. That’s far more interesting, news-worthy, and important than what she looks like in a tank top.