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Billie Eilish thinks it's unfair some fans expect her to always stay the same, whether that's in her music or her personal style choices.
Ahead of the release of her latest album, Happier Than Ever, the 19-year-old Grammy winner debuted a new look, complete with blonde hair and a more revealing wardrobe, making waves as she explored new ways of expressing herself. Eilish told ELLE in the cover story for the magazine's October 2021 issue that she lost thousands of Instagram followers because of the aesthetic refresh.
"People hold on to these memories and have an attachment. But it's very dehumanizing. I lost 100,000 followers just because of the boobs. People are scared of big boobs," she said with a laugh. "... You're not even supposed to really know who you are until you're at least my age or older."
Eilish also explained that she decided to dye her hair blonde in order to ditch her trademark neon green locks and blend in more when out in public.
"I had no goal of 'This is going to make everybody think differently of me.' I've had different-colored hair and vibes for everything I've ever done. I wanted this album to have its own thing," she explained. "The other day, I posted a video from when I had green hair, and I saw people go, 'I miss this Billie, the green-haired Billie.' I'm still the same person. I'm not just different Barbies with different heads."
Alique Billie Eilish
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Scrutiny over her wardrobe is something that continues to frustrate Eilish. She told ELLE, "The other day, I decided to wear a tank top. It wasn't even a provocative shirt. But I know people are going to say, 'Holy f---, she's dressing sexy and trying to make a statement.' And I'm like, 'No, I'm not. It's 500 degrees and I just want to wear a tank top.' "
For the cover story, pop legend Madonna gave her perspective on battling expectations as a woman in the music industry.
"The problem is, we still live in a very sexist world where women are put into categories: You're either in the virgin category or the whore category," said Madonna, 63. "Billie started off in a non-sexualized category, not pandering to the masses and not using her sexuality in any way, which is her choice and God bless her for that — after all, she's been a teenager all this time."
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"[But] if she wants to turn around and take photographs where she is portrayed as a feminine woman, showing her body in a way that she hasn't in the past, then why should she be punished for it?" the "Like a Virgin" singer continued. "Women should be able to portray themselves in any way they want. If Billie were a man, no one would be writing about this. A man can show up dressed in a suit and tie for the first three years of his career, and then the next month he could be dressed like Prince or Mick Jagger, shirt off, wearing eyeliner, and no one would say a word."
Back in May, Eilish told British Vogue of her new look, addressing the unfair standards women are often held to based on the way they dress, that "showing your body and showing your skin — or not — should not take away any respect from you."