Billie Eilish Talks Confidence and Body Image: ‘I Have to Disassociate From the Ideas I Have of My Body’

Billie Eilish has grown up in the public eye. A famously introspective 19-year-old, the “Ocean Eyes” singer has always pondered the bigger questions, like: What does it mean to be confident? and How does social media affect body image? In an interview she did with The Guardian in July 2021, Eilish got candid about her thoughts concerning such questions.

Billie Eilish attends "Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter To Los Angeles" Worldwide Premiere at The Grove on August 30, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
Billie Eilish | Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

Billie Eilish was taught to not shy away from looking ‘weird’

Eilish’s father, Patrick O’Connell, is a musician himself. But he’s more known for his acting career, where he’s been featured in such titles as The West Wing, Without a Trace, and Iron Man. O’Connell taught Eilish to embrace her oddities, to never shy away from looking strange or ugly.

“Since I was a kid, my dad and I have always talked about a certain type of person who’s so insecure, or hyperaware and self-conscious, that they never move in a weird way, or make a weird face, because they always want to look good,” she told The Guardian. “I’ve noticed that, and it makes me so sad. If you’re always standing a certain way, walking in a certain way, and always have your hair just so… It’s such a loss to always try to always look good. It’s such a loss of joy and freedom in your body.”

On social media and what it does to our sense of self

Eilish is not against “get[ting] work done.” But she is against setting unrealistic body expectations that are simply unattainable and passing them off as natural. Such themes are discussed in “OverHeated.”

“It’s completely fine to get work done – do this, do that, do what makes you feel happy,” she said. “It’s just when you deny it and say, ‘Oh, I got this all on my own, and if you just tried harder, you could get it.’ That makes me literally furious. It is so bad for young women – and boys, too – to see that.”

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Eilish knows that much of what she sees on Instagram isn’t real and yet she, herself, sometimes falls into the trap of being sucked into the facade.

“I see people online, looking like I’ve never looked,” she said. “And immediately I am like, oh my God, how do they look like that? I know the ins and outs of this industry, and what people actually use in photos, and I actually know what looks real can be fake. Yet I still see it and go, oh God, that makes me feel really bad. And I mean, I’m very confident in who I am, and I’m very happy with my life… I’m obviously not happy with my body, but who is?”

Billie Eilish ‘disassiciate[s] from the ideas I have of my body’ when she performs

To truly focus on the music when she’s on stage, the “Oxytocin” singer says she strives to separate herself from her physical body.

“I have to disassociate from the ideas I have of my body,” she said. “Especially because I wear clothes that are bigger and easier to move in without showing everything – they can be really unflattering. In pictures, they look like I don’t even know what. I just completely separate the two. Because I have such a terrible relationship with my body, like you would not believe, so I just have to disassociate… Then you get a paparazzi picture taken when you were running to the door and had just put anything on, and didn’t know the picture’s being taken, and you just look how you look, and everyone’s like, ‘Fat!’”

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When Eilish thinks about what a body really is, the fact that one could even be related to confidence is preposterous. But she says she’s “as guilty as everybody else.”

“I mean, we only need bodies to eat and walk around and poop,” she said. “We only need them to survive. It’s ridiculous that anybody even cares about bodies at all. Like, why? Why do we care? You know, when you really think about it?”