Billie Eilish is the up-and-coming teen sensation currently taking over alternative pop. At 17, she’s already topping the charts and embarking on world tours following her debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? The “Bad Guy” singer is known for her dark sound and lyrics, along with her edgy aura. She has an extremely unique sense of style with baggy clothes that are often deemed overly-masculine and various shades of gray hair.
In a recent Calvin Klein ad, Eilish gives the reasoning behind her formless fashion choice. As her hit “Ocean Eyes” plays quietly in the background, she explains, “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.’ No one can say any of that because they don’t know.”
Eilish makes it clear that she is uncomfortable being perceived solely by her body. She does not want to be a sexual object for the public to label. She would rather be known for her talent, rather than her butt, as she’s currently a minor.
And though the singer has explicitly stated that she does not want to be sexualized, a photo has recently circulated of her in a tank top. While it is obvious that she was trying not to overheat outdoors, it has been taken out of context. Many are viewing the teen as a sex object, some tweets describing her as “thick.”
This photo’s circulation is a clear invasion of her privacy and a complete disregard for her personal wishes. It has spread to Twitter where grown adults are debating her status as a minor and whether or not it’s immoral to call her hot. The constant need to rate celebrities’ bodies (and women’s bodies in general) has caused us to reduce them to objects, regardless of age.
At a meet and greet, one fan asked Eilish to grope her for a picture. Not only did the act upset Eilish, but it showed that many fans solely view her as an object whose only purpose is to meet their sexual desires (a.k.a. her worst fear). That is also why many dislike her baggy attire, as it does not show off her figure in the way they’d like her clothing to. When her clothing and body do not please them, they get upset. It shows how overly-sexualized many people’s image of her is.
The way that many debated her age and minor status demonstrates how desperate the public is to sexualize minors. As celebrities who are minors grow more famous and mainstream, the masses begin to sexualize them more. Millie Bobby Brown, still a preteen, was deemed sexiest actress by W Magazine during her initial rise to fame. Like Eilish, Millie experienced sudden stardom that led to quick exposure to the public. While many stars gain fame as an adult and are often sexualized then, young women like Brown and Eilish had a younger start.
The second someone is put in the public eye, society’s immediate reaction is to sexualize them regardless of age. This phenomenon grows to be dangerous for minors beginning their climb to fame.
This sexualization of teens and blurring of the age of consent leads to the normalization of pedophilia. Every time we allow a famous minor to become a sex object, we allow all minors to be viewed sexually as well. Society need to recognize that minors’ worth and appearance should not be based on sex appeal. It is borderline criminal and most definitely immoral, and causes detrimental self-esteem issues.
This hyper-sexualized culture causes women like Eilish to cover their figures in baggy garments. It causes her to wear a hoodie in the summer because if she unzips it, the cameras immediately go down her shirt. Over the course of her career so far, from 13 to 17, she has gradually accumulated more layers. Her jackets grow in length and cover more, her shorts are nearly past her knees.
She is so desperately trying to hide her figure because the second that the jacket comes off, the cameras come out. It is unfortunate that she has to adopt this style because the public will view her sexually otherwise. No 17-year-old should be wearing a hoodie in the summer heat.
Billie Eilish and other minors alike should not have to live in a society where they have to change outfits to avoid having their bodies sexualized. Minors should never be put in a sexual context, and anyone who views photos of a teen and automatically thinks “thick” is a part of the problem. People find ways of justifying it, but the simple truth is that it is not only disgusting and illegal, but it is diminishing teens’ self-esteem and robbing them of personal choice as well.
Featured image via Billie Eilish/Instagram