Written by Bea Taylor
Billie Eilish is refreshingly real. She doesn’t fuck around with people or things she has no time for and she has a cool candour about her struggles in the public eye. Her latest project is no different — and I hope her young audience is listening.
She’s just released the full version of her short film Not My Responsibility on YouTube, which was premiered during her Miami concert in March this year as part of her Where Do We Go? World Tour.
In just under four minutes Billie — who is just 18. Years. Old. — manages to address everything that is wrong about body shaming. She doesn’t yell, she doesn’t cry, instead, with a quiet, contemplative beat she talks as she slowly takes her clothes off. “Do you know me? Really know me? You have opinions. About my music, about my clothes, about my body,” she begins.
Billie, who famously wears baggy, oversized clothes to avoid objectification, is remorselessly and repeatedly put under the hateful body-watch microscope anyway. She addresses this absurdity in her film, “Though you’ve never seen my body, you still judge me for it. Why?”
It’s not the first time the singer has spoken out about body shaming. In 2019 she starred in a Calvin Klein commercial, fully clothed. In the ad she says, “I never want the world to know everything about me, I mean that’s why I wear big baggy clothes. Nobody can have an opinion because they can’t see what’s underneath, you know? Nobody can be like, ‘oh, she’s slim-thick, she’s not slim-thick, she’s got a flat arse, she’s got a fat arse.’ No one can say any of that, because they don’t know.”
It’s a good premise. It’s just unfortunate that our society likes to speculate, bully and shame regardless. And what about the double standards? Yeah, she’s onto those too; “If I wear what is comfortable, I am not a woman. If I shed the layers, I’m a slut,” she says in the film. “We make assumptions about people based on their size. We decide who they are. We decide what they’re worth.”
She finishes her powerful manifesto, as she sinks into inky black water, with, “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.”
FYI, the last part is not a question, it’s a statement.
INDEX’s round up of art and culture events on the New Zealand calendar.
Click here to see the full list.
12/DEC – 20/DEC
19/NOV – 19/DEC
9 – 23/DEC
11/DEC – 13/FEB
2 – 23/DEC
26/NOV – 20/DEC
25/NOV – 19/DEC
28 – 29/NOV
15 – 28/NOV
5/NOV – 5/DEC
24/OCT – 24/JAN
6 – 21/NOV
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