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Billie Eilish knew what trolls would say about her Vogue cover before it was even released.

Warning: This post mentions self harm and abuse and may be triggering for some readers.

If Billie Eilish scrolled through the comments about her British Vogue cover on social media, I doubt she'd be surprised.

It's all there; "you've changed," "hypocrite," "she caved to the pressure," just as she'd predicted it would be.

Her British Vogue photoshoot shows Eilish as we've never seen her before; in soft pinks, corsets and stockings. Her clothes are fitted and her black and neon green hair is now blonde.

The aesthetic change is for no reason other than this is how she wants to look, at this point in time.

Shouldn't that be enough?

Watch: Billie Eilish on her relationship with her body. Post continues below video.


Video via CBS.

Eilish has been making waves in the music world since she was 14.

By 18, she was the youngest person and the second in history to win the four main Grammy categories - Best New Artist, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Album of the Year - in the same year.

All the while, Eilish cultivated a unique public image. She became as well known for her eccentric, baggy outfit choices as she is for her soft, whisper-like voice.

Image: Getty.

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She has been open about the fact that she dressed like that because she did not want to draw attention to her body, rather than a conscious 'rejection' of whatever her peers in the music industry were doing.

"The only reason I did it was cause I hated my body," she told Dazed in 2020.

"[People would say] 'Billie Eilish: rule-breaker', or 'breaking all the rules', or whatever. And I'd be like, 'What rules are there?'"

"I didn't consciously go, "I'm not gonna do that, I'm gonna do this.' I didn't think of myself as being in the realm of those people. I was never comparing myself to them."

In late 2020, Eilish was photographed by paparazzi while she was going for a walk wearing a singlet and shorts. She was body-shamed for the images, and told Vanity Fair her loved ones were concerned about her reaction "because the reason I used to cut myself was because of my body".

She said she was glad hadn't happened while she was still struggling with her body image. 

"I was really, really glad though, mainly, that I'm in this place in my life, because if that had happened three years ago, when I was in the midst of my horrible body relationship, or [when I was] dancing a tonne, five years ago, I wasn’t really eating.

"I was, like, starving myself. I remember taking a pill that told me that it would make me lose weight and it only made me pee the bed – when I was 12. It's just crazy."

All of this context is now widely-known about Eilish and her 'look'. But that hasn't stopped her being labelled as the 'anti-pop star' by fans and media, celebrated for what they saw as 'rebelling' against the more typical, sexualised pop look.

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So when Eilish stepped into a figure-hugging corset and skirt for the cover of British Vogue's June 2021 issue, she knew what was coming.

"If you're about body positivity, why would you wear a corset? Why wouldn't you show your actual body?" she predicted some would react.

Social media is awash with commentary, many of which has completely erased Eilish's agency in a bid to make the magazine the 'bad guy' for 'changing her'.

"I don't see why they had to sexualise her." 

"Billie has her own style and turning her into another sex vamp, isn't it."

"She's been hoodwinked."

In the profile, Eilish rubbishes it all.

"My thing is that I can do whatever I want," she said.

"It's all about what makes you feel good. If you want to get surgery, go get surgery. If you want to wear a dress that somebody thinks that you look too big wearing, f**k it – if you feel like you look good, you look good."

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The celebration of Eilish's baggy, covered up clothing choices are, of course, cloaked in misogyny. 

She told British Vogue it left her feeling weird about her own sexuality and desirability. She's also no 'better' than other pop stars for dressing modestly, no matter how little clothing others choose to wear.

And now, Eilish is also no more or less worthy of respect in a baggy, neon tracksuit than a tight, pink dress.

"Suddenly you're a hypocrite if you want to show your skin, and you're easy and you're a sl*t and you're a wh*re," she said.

"If I am, then I'm proud. Me and all the girls are hoes, and f**k it, y'know? Let's turn it around and be empowered in that. Showing your body and showing your skin – or not – should not take any respect away from you."

The weight of a woman's 'image' - and how bullsh*t it all is - are underlined in another part of the profile, where Eilish said she was abused as a minor. It's a topic she covers in a song on her upcoming album, Happier Than Ever.

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She knows that because she's posing on the cover of a magazine (in an outfit of her own choice), there will be people who try to undermine that part of her story.

"'You're going to complain about being taken advantage of as a minor, but then you're going to show your boobs?' Yes I am motherf**ker! I'm going to because there's no excuse."

When it comes to her image, Eilish feels like she can't win. That's because she can't. There's no right answer, because the entire thing is a trick question. 

No matter how a woman dresses, society will find a way to use it against her: Too modest? Boring. Undesirable. Too revealing? Sl*t. Manipulative. How can we believe anything she says? And God forbid you go from one to the other. Hypocrite. Sell-out. What a shame.

In early 2020, Eilish shared a video on social media of herself - from the shoulders up - wearing a swimsuit while on holiday with friends.

"It was trending," she recalled to Dazed.

"There were comments like, 'I don't like her anymore because as soon as she turns 18 she's a wh*re.

"Like, dude. I can't win. I can-not win."

Now, she no longer wants to.

Feature image: British Vogue/Instagram.