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Body-Shaming Tweet About Billie Eilish Proves Women Just Can't Win

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Body acceptance. Body love. Body positivity. These all sound like wonderful things, but as we found out this week when a troll commented on Billie Eilish’s body, they may not really be possible right now.

On Monday, October 12, an account on Twitter posted a picture of 18-year-old Billie Eilish in a tank top and shorts and accused her of developing a “mom bod” over the last 10 months. Fans have responded with an outpouring of support (and no small amount of disgust with the troll), and Eilish herself took to Instagram, sharing a TikTok by creator Chizi Duru about how people need to start accepting normal, real bodies, and stating that “Instagram isn’t real.”

For so long, Eilish tried to keep herself out of these discussions by always wearing baggy clothes. She’s gone on record saying that’s why she typically wears big clothes, so no one will be able to see her body and have any opinion on it one way or the other. That’s her strategy for avoiding body-shamers like this troll.

Billie Eilish is only 18 years old, and ever since her music started gaining popularity, she has had to have a strategy for presenting her body to the world. She had to wear big clothes and avoid being seen as she is because she knew she would either be shamed or sexualized, or possibly both.

At first, her decision to wear baggy clothes and avoid the whole issue seems like true body neutrality. Body neutrality is all about praising your body for performing the functions it can perform, and simply acknowledging that your body is no better or worse than anyone else’s. Even though it seems like Eilish’s style choices line up perfectly with body neutrality, the truth is, Eilish just traded out one set of rules for another.

Instead of subjecting her body to our society’s critical eye that can find nothing good to say about a woman’s body, she covered it up. But then that became all she could do. Any time she has worn anything remotely form-fitting, her body became a trending topic on Twitter. She became just as trapped in her baggy clothes as many other women are trapped in revealing clothes they feel obligated to wear.

That’s why this whole “mom bod” incident is proof that our society isn’t ready for true body neutrality. Eilish is criticized for being a prude when she covers up, and her body is insulted when she doesn’t cover it up. As she’s said herself, she just can’t win.

No one wins when our society views bodies as something to be debated, something that can be “right” or “wrong,” and then rigs the game so everything is wrong. Women in particular have been facing this battle for centuries. It has changed forms a few times, but body shaming has never gone away, and until it does, it’s going to be a struggle for young women to have a healthy, body neutral mindset.

It’s great for all of us to work on ourselves, to try and see our bodies through a body neutral lens, but that becomes almost impossible if the entire society around you doesn’t do the same thing. It would be like you were the one person who decided that a red light actually means go and green means stop. You’re going to get in some fights, and you might get hurt.

That’s what we’re asking of young girls when we encourage them to be body positive in a society that is incredibly body negative.

We need to stop writing articles blaming girls like Billie Eilish for the choices they make about their bodies, and we need to start transforming our society into a place that is safe for girls to exist as themselves.

To all the young girls out there who love Billie Eilish: she didn’t do anything wrong. There is nothing wrong with her body. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with having a “mom bod,” because moms have bodies, and those bodies are good too. You shouldn’t have to change the world just to feel good in your own skin, but that’s the way things are right now. So let’s change the world. Let’s make sure these trolls know they are on the way out. Let’s celebrate our bodies and encourage other girls to celebrate theirs.

Originally published: October 14, 2020
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