Billie Eilish, 19, opens up about body image issues: 'I was, like, starving myself'

Kerry Justich
·3 min read

Billie Eilish has seldom been seen through the duration of the pandemic as she spends time at home working on upcoming projects and raising her 10-month-old pit bull, Shark. But when the 19-year-old singer stepped out in October to meet up with her brother for a day at the beach, the singer was forced into the center of conversations taking place online, both shaming and praising Eilish for her appearance.

“There’s this picture of me running from my car to my brother’s front door on like a 110-degree day in a tank top. And people were like, ‘Damn, Billie got fat!'” she told Vanity Fair during the latest of her video interviews with the magazine. “And I’m like, “Nope, this is how I look, you’ve just never seen it before!’”

Billie Eilish explains that friends and family were concerned when the 19-year-old was body shamed for wearing a tank top. (Photo: Getty Images)
Billie Eilish explains that friends and family were concerned when the 19-year-old was body-shamed for wearing a tank top. (Photo: Getty Images)

Now, on the cover of Vanity Fair’s March 2021 issue, Eilish is further addressing that moment and the concern that it caused for her family.

Eilish talks about why she wears baggy clothes in Vanity Fair's March 2021 cover story. (Photo: Quil Lemons/Vanity Fair)
Eilish talks about why she wears baggy clothes in Vanity Fair's March 2021 cover story. (Photo: Quil Lemons/Vanity Fair)

“I think that the people around me were more worried about it than I was, because the reason I used to cut myself was because of my body. To be quite honest with you, I only started wearing baggy clothes because of my body,” she said of her signature oversized shirts and shorts. “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 dancing a ton, five years ago, I wasn’t really eating. I was, like, starving myself.”

Eilish also recalled taking “a pill” in the hopes that it would help her to lose weight. “It only made me pee the bed — when I was 12. It’s just crazy,” she said. And although she alluded to being in a better place, Eilish admitted that it isn’t easy to see the opinions of others plastered across the internet.

“I thought that I would be the only one dealing with my hatred for my body, but I guess the internet also hates my body. So that’s great,” she said, before concluding, “The internet hates women.”

Among the many people — fans and fellow celebrities alike — defending Eilish against the vitriol was actress Kat Dennings, who tweeted to say that the teen is “beautiful and normal.” Dennings later spoke to Entertainment Tonight about what incited her to speak out. “Any woman in the spotlight is already under a tremendous amount of pressure and the internet is gross and awful and I hate it,” she said.

That pressure is something that Eilish herself addressed in a short film released on YouTube after her tour, which kicked off in March, was canceled because of the coronavirus.

“Though you’ve never seen my body, you still judge it and judge me for it. Why? You make assumptions about people based on their size. We decide who they are. We decide what they’re worth,” Eilish says in the video. “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?”

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