The conversation around Billie Eilish’s clothes has been interesting to watch, the more famous she becomes. Several profiles have called her look “androgynous,” but hearing Eilish, a 17-year-old rising pop star, talk about why she prefers baggy clothing, it’s clear that for her it’s more about comfort and fear of judgment.
In a video interview for the July cover of Vogue Australia, Eilish told the mag:
“What I like about just dressing like I’m 800 sizes bigger than I am is it kind of gives nobody the opportunity to judge what your body looks like. I don’t want to give anyone the excuse of judging, and not—and it’s not like everyone’s going to judge you, but they all do in their head [...] I want layers and layers and layers. And I want to be mysterious. You don’t know what’s underneath, and you don’t know what’s on top.
She also previously talked about wearing oversized clothes to avoid being sexualized. Eilish said in a Calvin Klein ad in May:
“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 haven’t seen what’s underneath. Nobody can be like, ‘she’s slim-thick,’ ‘she’s not slim-thick,’ ‘she’s got a flat ass,’ ‘she’s got a fat ass.’ No one can say any of that because they don’t know.”
It’s almost as if she predicted what happened earlier this week, when a Twitter user posted a photo of her in a tank top and wrote: “Billie Eilish is THICK.” (The tweet has since been deleted.) The fact that Eilish is aware of the potential to be sexualized and took preemptive measures to avoid it clearly shows how teen girls are made aware of and self-conscious about their bodies early on, and how that’s amplified when they’re in the spotlight.
In her Vogue Australia interview, Eilish described her personal style using terms like “defense mechanism” and “security blanket,” and cited Rihanna as inspiration, suggesting that beyond its utilitarian value, fashion is, above all, fun.
“I remember seeing an acceptance speech that Rihanna gave where she said that fashion has always been her defense mechanism,” Eilish said. She added: “It’s always been that way for me... It’s my way of expression without having to use words, without having to use anything at all. You know, fashion is its own language and I use mine all day, every day, my whole life. I always have.”