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Billie Eilish introduced herself to the world in baggy clothes – an aesthetic she maintained throughout her first few years of fame until deciding to open up about the strained relationship with her body image, something which she now describes as a "truly terrible, horrible thing".
Speaking to The Sunday Times the 20-year-old (who will this week become the youngest ever headliner at Glastonbury Festival) revealed that she's "hated" her body since she was a child, noting that she previously self-harmed "because of my body".
"Nowhere good," she replies when asked where her relationship with her body is at currently. "My relationship with my body has been a truly horrible, terrible thing since I was 11."
Billie went on: "I love that my body is mine and that it’s with me everywhere I go. I kind of think of my body as my friend. My ugly friend! It’s complicated. But what are you gonna do?
"I honestly don’t feel desired, ever. I do have this worry that I felt so undesirable that I may have occasionally tried too hard to be desirable. It makes me sad to think about."
On the topic of why she struggles with her body image, the singer explained that extended periods of alone time during the pandemic left her spiralling over her appearance. "COVID made me go right back down into the spiral of, who am I?" she said. "There was nothing happening and I remember thinking, I need to figure out who I am right now. Then halfway through COVID I felt as if I was starting to have an identity again, let’s do different things, let’s have different experiences. And then it [another identity crisis] happened again."
Billie continued: "Being known for the whole start of your career for one thing — 'she wears baggy clothes and she sings like this' — it was driving me mad." The thought triggered her to overhaul the look she'd previously been known for, appearing on the cover of British Vogue in a pink silk corset and later channeling Old Hollywood Glam at the Met Gala.
But, she says with the praise came criticism, too. "No matter what you do, it's wrong and right," the singer said. "Wearing baggy clothes, nobody is attracted to me, I feel incredibly unlovable and unsexy and not beautiful, and people shame you for not being feminine enough.
"Then you wear something more revealing and they’re, like, 'you’re such a fat cow whore'. I’m a slut and I’m a sell-out and I’m just like every other celebrity selling their bodies, and woah! What the f*** do you want? It’s a crazy world for women."
If you’re worried about your own or someone else’s health, you can contact Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity, 365 days a year on 0808 801 0677 or beateatingdisorders.org.uk.
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