Billie Eilish's British Vogue cover dropped yesterday, and immediately attracted attention. The first thing that people noticed were the photos, which showed Eilish in 1940s pin-up styles, a departure from her usual look. While hearing Eilish talk about why she wanted to make this stylistic choice was interesting, her interview also delved into a topic that's been getting a lot of attention recently — how abusers often use the power that comes with age to take advantage of young people.
In the Vogue interview, Eilish talked at length about her new single, titled Your Power, calling it "an open letter to people who take advantage — mostly men." The single isn't about a specific instance or person, according to the Grammy award winner. "It’s not about that," Eilish said. "It’s really not at all about one person. You might think, 'It’s because she’s in the music industry' – no, dude. It’s everywhere. I don’t know one girl or woman who hasn’t had a weird experience, or a really bad experience. And men, too — young boys are taken advantage of constantly."
Eilish wanted to use the song to shine a light on how age differences can create a huge power imbalance in relationships, one that isn't always easy to see or understand. "I used to not understand why age mattered. And, of course, you feel like that when you’re young, because you’re the oldest you’ve ever been. You feel like you’re so mature and you know everything," Eilish said. "People forget that you can grow up and realize shit was fucked up when you were younger."
According to the interview, Your Power isn't the only piece of music Eilish has put out that tackles the topic of abuse and how it affects those who experience it, specifically minors. She said she often thinks back to a line in her 2019 single When I Was Older: "I’m still a victim in my own right / But I’m the villain in my own eyes."
What she wanted to say — and what she still believes — is that you can be strong, have a support system, be incredibly smart, and have all the things that should seemingly prevent you from being abused, but "you can always be taken advantage of," Eilish told Vogue. "That’s a big problem in the world of domestic abuse or statutory rape — girls that were very confident and strong-willed finding themselves in situations where they’re like, ‘Oh my god, I’m the victim here?’ And it’s so embarrassing and humiliating and demoralizing to be in that position of thinking you know so much and then you realize, I’m being abused right now."
Recently, the topic of how much autonomy young people, especially young people who are in the public eye, actually have has been getting a lot of attention. The documentary Framing Britney Spears, for instance, sparked conversation around how in control of her image Spears really was when she was first becoming famous in her teens, and the ways in which she was taken advantage of. It may be tempting to treat young celebrities as if their talent gives them more control over their lives and their safety, but as Eilish pointed out, that's not always true — and young people can be more vulnerable than they even realize.
As always, Eilish's openness and thoughtfulness have made it clear that her voice is one of her most powerful tools, in more ways than one. And it's clear that this won't be the last time the award-winning singer will speak out about these heavy-hitting topics. "I would like people to listen to me," Eilish said — and we think they will.