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Billie Eilish Shouldn't Have to Remind Us That Laughing at Tics Is Wrong, and Yet...

Billie Eilish recently spoke to David Letterman about her Tourette’s syndrome, and how it hurts when people make fun of her.

Tourette’s syndrome is a nervous system condition in which a person has repetitive “tics,” or twitches, movements, or sounds. 

According to Mighty user Shanon who lives with Tourette’s, three things that people with Tourette’s want you to know are that they can’t control it, it’s painful, and that people without Tourette’s don’t understand what it’s like to have the condition. 

“If you film me for long enough you’re going to see a lot of tics…The most common way people react is they laugh because they think I’m trying to be funny…and I’m always left incredibly offended by that.”

Billie Eilish first came forward with her Tourette’s diagnosis in November of 2018 after a compilation of her tics started making the rounds on social media. The then 16-year-old went on Instagram and spoke about her diagnosis and life with Tourette’s:

“I would love to get this straight so everyone can stop acting goofy.. I have diagnosed Tourette’s. I’ve never mentioned it on the internet because nobody thinks I’m deadass…as well as…the fact that i’ve just never wanted people to think of tourettes everytime they think of me. My ticks are only physical and not super noticeable to others if you’re not really paying attention (believe me, having them is a whole different type of misery). My Tourette’s make easy things a lot harder. Certain things increase and/or trigger the intensity of my tics. But it’s something i grew up with and am used to…my family and closest friends know it as a part of me.”

Billie Eilish Instagram story about their feelings with tourettes

She then goes on to say “…these compilations y’all have been making of my tics are lowkey funny even when y’all make fun of them n’ shit. I know you’re all confused so as to what it is, so just to let ya know…it’s Tourette’s.”

That being said, Eilish’s latest conversation with Letterman shows that she no longer finds it funny, but rather “incredibly offensive.” 

“If you film me for long enough you’re going to see a lot of tics…The most common way people react is they laugh because they think I’m trying to be funny…and I’m always left incredibly offended by that.”

It’s disheartening to hear that even though Eilish spoke years ago about Tourette’s, people are still choosing to make fun of her for it. Making fun of anyone for a health condition that they cannot control is wrong and ableist. Yes, we live in the age of memes where it feels nothing and no one is safe from a YouTube compilation or “shitpost,” but some things are still not OK to laugh at. Yes, we can blame ignorance, but at the same time when someone has gone out of their way to clarify their diagnosis, disorder, or condition, then there comes a time where we can’t blame it on ignorance.

If you didn’t know, now you do. Some things are laughable, some things are not, and Billie Eilish’s Tourette’s syndrome is definitely not.

Lead image courtesy of Netflix’s YouTube account

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