Every year, exclusive award ceremonies and fancy events roll out their carpets for celebrities to showcase their take on fashion that year. All hands are brought on deck to produce the perfect outfit for a celebrity to walk down the path with hundreds of cameras ready to flood the news and media outlets. Audiences impatiently wait for their favorite ‘heartthrobs’ to unveil their looks. Fans spend days debating on how suitable or appropriate an outfit was. All pretend to be elite fashion connoisseurs, expressing their 2 cents on an outfit as they cling to their screens.
Among the famous artists that have had the honor of creating stirs within media/news outlets for their looks, Billie Eilish holds a top position. The 21-year-old, American singer-songwriter, has faced much backlash on her fashion journey that has made many of these pretend fashionists itch with discomfort, creating news headlines on all ends of the spectrum including being called “too boyish” or “too sultry feminine.”
Starting off her career, Billie Eilish became the talk of the town with her “baggy clothes” and styling “masculine” looks. Many news outlets chose to comment on the masculinity of her clothes and Eilish was subject to many interviews which were adamant to focus more on questions about her styling than her record-breaking music or multiple award wins. The extent of the interest in her clothing was so much that the singer explicitly had to explain why she felt more comfortable in these clothes termed as “masculine.”
In June 2021, British Vogue unveiled the very first look of Eilish’s cover photos, and in an immediate second, the misogynistic writers behind famous media outlets seized their time to shine. Media outlets declared the Vogue Cover as a “Controversial Lingerie Photoshoot.” The trouble was not a young woman sexualized on the cover page of a famous magazine, but simply the discomfort it caused in the eyes of those who had permanently stamped her as “masculine.”
Thankfully for these virulent media hosts and writers, Eilish didn’t stop providing food for entertainment that would flood the trending news. The singer-songwriter continued to challenge her own clothing styles at major events like the Oscars, Grammys, and the Met Gala. Many termed the singer as a ‘sellout’ and others didn’t disappoint in the artistic use of similar terms. To all the backlash Eilish received, the singer had a perfect response to critics – “Let women exist.”
Eilish came to her social media to address the issue, slamming back at “women hating a** weirdoes” who have always criticized her fashion choices. Eilish continued to defend her fashion choices by writing, “Did you know that women are multifaceted? Shocking right? Believe it or not, women can be interested in multiple things.”
The brutality of news headlines and the intense scrutiny female celebrities are put on red carpets is no new report. But the lines between a mere media norm and something problematic are blurred when the talented female singer is only reduced to the terms of either being too “masculine” or too “feminine” for our media to digest. Why can’t women in the media industry be in more than one form? And at the end of the day, what is too masculine or too feminine? Or simply, what is masculinity and femininity as it is?