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Billie Eilish on her body, tells of the discomfort

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Be kind to yourself. The recommendation, addressed to adoring fans who have the privilege of meeting her, comes from the pop star of the moment: a teenager who writes angry songs and produces videos set in the dark, populated by monsters and not very reassuring subjects. The very young love it, the parents are upset. Because Billie Eilish, nineteen-year-old born in Los Angeles, does everything she can to present herself as a bad subject, just to paraphrase the title of one of her songs, Bad Guy. Very blond for a few weeks, after a long period with two-tone hair (fluorescent green at the roots, black at the tips), in the photos she looks at the camera with a pouting mouth and a grim look, despite the childish face with blue eyes and nose upwards.

billie eilish interview

Los Angeles (United States). Billie Eilish, 19, attends the 2021 Grammy Awards ceremony wrapped in a large Gucci suit, which hides her shapes. It won the award for the best song with Everything I Wanted.

Billie Eilish

She doesn’t want anyone to like her, Billie Eilish, but she’s an explosive success. Among peers and beyond. They even dedicated a documentary to her, which aired in recent weeks on Apple TV +, entitled Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry. It is said to have revolutionized the rules of pop, that something so new has not been heard in years. She simply replies that this is her music: “I never said or thought,” I hate pop and now I’m going to break the rules. “I just did what I wanted to do. And people decided I was ok.”

billie eilish interview

Austin (United States). Billie Eilish plays the guitar, with her brother Finneas on keyboard, at a 2017 concert, early in her career. “Be kind to yourself,” she recommends today to her many teenage fans.

Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas

Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell he owes the first name to his maternal grandfather – who died a few months before his birth – and the second to a documentary about two Irish twins, which his parents saw on TV. In the early 2000s Patrick and Maggie O’Connell are actors, often unemployed, and they raise their children without sending them to school: it is the mother who takes care of their education, giving priority to art and music. Finneas, the eldest son (now 23 years old), asks for his first drums at 3 years old and at 11 he learns to play the piano on his own. Billie Eilish writes her first ukulele song when she is 4 years old, performs for the first time in some childhood talent shows at 6 and 8 enters the Los Angeles Choir for children. Once grown up, she writes her songs in Finneas’s room, which is in charge of production, using the computer she bought with her savings.

billie eilish interview

Los Angeles (United States). Billie Eilish with family in 2019: from left, brother Finneas, now 23, sister songwriter and record producer, dad O’Connell, 63, and mom Maggie, 62, both actors.

Billie Eilish and her family

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This is how the ballad was born Ocean Eyes, which in 2016 Billie Eilish publishes on SoundCloud, a music streaming service dedicated to emerging artists. Overnight the song goes viral and the record industry quickly knocks on the O’Connell family’s door. The success is lightning fast and increases thanks to songs like Lovely (of 2017), Bad Guy (2019) and Therefore I Am (2020). The first album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (2019), almost totals 4 million copies sold. Billie Eilish continues to record in her brother’s room and turns into a record star, also for the awards she wins: in 2020 he won four Grammy Awards in a single round. This has never happened to such a young woman. The artist seduces the audience not only thanks to the sound, to his whispering voice, but also to the lyrics that dripping with suffering. His. Similar to that of many teenagers. “Being who you are, without lying, is the only thing to do,” says the teen pop star. He has learned, in fact, not to hide his weaknesses. And she said, for example, that her brain works in a particular way since she was little. In fact, he suffers from Tourette’s syndrome, which in his case manifests itself with a series of imperceptible tics: a swelling of the eyes, a snap of the head. It usually manages to keep it under control, but some things seem to work as a switch. Mathematics, for example. Billie Eilish is also affected by a form of synaesthesia, a neurological phenomenon that causes the senses to mix with each other. “In my head, every person I know has a specific color, shape and number,” he explained. Brother Finneas, for example, is an orange triangle (but the name Finneas is dark green), while the number seven is hot as an oven and smells like cookies.

billie eilish interview

Los Angeles (United States). Billie Eilish at the premiere of the documentary The World’s a Little Blurry, which dedicated Apple TV + to her. “Sometimes at my concerts I see girls with cuts on their arms and it breaks my heart. It happened to me too,” says the singer.

Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish was a very sensitive child with serious separation anxiety problems. At 10 she was still sleeping in her parents’ bed and until she was 12 she couldn’t be alone for even a minute. Mom or dad had to stay with her around the clock. Sudden popularity didn’t help either, at least in the beginning. “I started performing at 13, the first tour came at 15,” she recalls. “Those were difficult years. They are hard times for everyone, when you are that age. I had all my paranoia of adolescence, plus the fame. Hard to hold up.” The traces of her “paranoia” can be found in a notebook, which she shows to everyone during an interview with the monthly Rolling Stones. “Here I am depressed. It says:” Scared, broken, alone “. And” I’m still sad “. I wrote these things when I was not well.” She was 12 at the time and was part of a modern dance company. “There were a lot of very beautiful girls. When you dance you wear very tight clothes and I never felt comfortable in tight clothes. That’s the time I was most insecure. I couldn’t speak, at be normal. I couldn’t even look in the mirror. I probably reached the peak of my body dysmorphism. ”

This disorder, widespread among adolescents, consists in feeling suffering for those who consider themselves the defects of their physical appearance. Defects that others generally do not notice. Billie Eilish, who has large breasts and a robust physique, finds a solution by disguising herself in oversized dresses. The same ones that today distinguish her look and that her fans like so much: maxi hoodies, extra-large basketball pants, sneakers. “I still wear them, because I never felt wanted,” she explained to the UK edition of the magazine GQ. “I have never felt physical attraction towards me, not even from my ex-boyfriends, and this has marked my life”.

The situation worsened when she was 13, due to an injury that forced her to completely abandon dance. “I think the depression started then. I went through several stages of self-harm. I don’t want to talk about it that much, but I thought I deserved the pain, “she says today. But just then her career starts to take off.” It’s curious, “she says.” When everyone thinks of Billie Eilish at 14, they imagine themselves a lot of nice things. But I can only think about how unhappy, heartbroken, angry and confused I was. From 13 to 16 it was tough “.

Today the pop star has left behind the sufferings of the past, even if the relationship with her body is not completely resolved. “Have I learned to accept it? I don’t know, I still have a lot of reflections to do on this “, he confesses.” But I learned to dress how I feel. “Last summer she returned to the subject with a video, Not My Responsabiliy, in which she takes off her clothes and asks, before sinking into the quicksand: “Would you like me to be smaller? Weaker? Softer? Higher?”. A way to claim the right to have a body different from the models that the media propose relentlessly. “Sometimes at my concerts I see girls with cuts on their arms and it breaks my heart,” said Billie Eilish. “I have no more scars, because it’s been a long time, but I know what they’re going through. It happened to me too. That’s why I invite them to be kind to themselves. Why don’t they mistreat themselves like I did.”

Text by Silvia Casanova

All photos have been published by Gente

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