Billie Eilish discusses exploitation in British Vogue interview

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Musician Billie Eilish says she is taking back her power by speaking out against systemic abuse, body positivity and the unrealistic expectations placed on young women.
In the cover story for British Vogue’s June edition, 19-year-old Eilish spoke with journalist Laura Snapes about her new single and her evolving relationship with her own body.

The accompanying photo shoot sees the multiple Grammy winner eschew her trademark oversized silhouette in favor of a series of form-fitting catsuits and corset-inspired looks styled with pieces from designers such as Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Valentino and Burberry. She also revealed a new blonde hairstyle after years of sporting her signature green locks.

This is a big change for Eilish, who said in the interview that her body is her “deepest insecurity” and “was the initial reason for my depression when I was younger.”

Eilish is wearing a custom trench and corseted body by Burberry, Mugler stocking boots and Thomasine tulle gloves.

Eilish is wearing a custom trench and corseted body by Burberry, Mugler stocking boots and Thomasine tulle gloves. Credit: Craig McDean

In the candid interview, Eilish said girls are expected to grow up too fast. “It’s an insane thing,” she said. “Young women, we’re expected to know and do everything, and be everyone’s mom when we’re like, 15.”

Discussing her new single, “Your Power,” the singer said: “It’s an open letter to people who take advantage — mostly men.” In the song, Eilish addresses someone who has abused a minor, but it’s not targeted at any individual, she said.

“I would like people to listen to me. And not just try to figure out who I’m talking about, because it’s not about that. It’s really not at all about one person. You might think, ‘It’s because she’s in the music industry’ — no, dude. It’s everywhere,” she added.

“I don’t know one girl or woman who hasn’t had a weird experience, or a really bad experience. And men, too — young boys are taken advantage of constantly.”

Speaking about her own experiences in the spotlight she said, “Don’t make me not a role model because you’re turned on by me.”

Eilish also preempts what she thinks certain people might say about her new direction: “‘If you’re about body positivity, why would you wear a corset? Why wouldn’t you show your actual body?'”

But the young star said confidence is her only gospel. “It’s all about what makes you feel good. If you want to get surgery, go get surgery. If you want to wear a dress that somebody thinks that you look too big wearing, f*** it — if you feel like you look good, you look good.”

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Billie Eilish ditched her trademark baggy clothes and green hair for the British Vogue photo shoot. Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Snapes writes that Eilish reveals she has experienced abuse, but does not go into personal details.

“You can always be taken advantage of. That’s a big problem in the world of domestic abuse or statutory rape — girls that were very confident and strong-willed finding themselves in situations where they’re like, ‘Oh my god, I’m the victim here?'” Eilish told the magazine.

“And it’s so embarrassing and humiliating and demoralising to be in that position of thinking you know so much and then you realise, I’m being abused right now.”

The new single addresses the dynamic between abuser and victim, as well as famous people like herself and those who “would honestly do anything you say,” said Eilish.

“It’s about taking that power back, showing it off and not taking advantage with it,” she said. “I’m not letting myself be owned anymore.”

See the full feature in the June issue of British Vogue available via digital download and on newsstands on May 7.

Eilish’s new album “Happier Than Ever” is set to release on July 30.

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