Artists Lizzo and Billie Eilish have criticised the media for stereotyping female singers and scrutinising their bodies not their music.
stars pushed back last week on the double standards that still prevail when it
comes to female artists.
Firstly Lizzo. The Juice singer delivered one helluva performance at last week’s MTV VMAs. Resplendent in a sparkly yellow swimsuit, and with a pair of giant, inflatable buttocks hovering in the background, she urged the audience to: “Take this opportunity to feel as good as hell, because you deserve to feel as good as hell.”
It was an impassioned performance from an artist who has been a vocal campaigner for bodypositivity. And it stole the show.
days later Lizzo explained her journey from diet obsessed, self-doubting young
woman to tour-de-force performer.
would be in these groups with people who I thought were prettier and cooler
than me,” she said. “I thought they deserved the spotlight. I was like no one
wants to hear what I have to say. No one wants to just look at me. Making solo
music was so hard for me.”
The turning point came when she was 20 and excessive dieting meant she was thinner than ever but, according to her boyfriend at the time, not thin enough.
realised it doesn’t matter how small or big I am, or how I look, no one is
going to be completely happy about it. I’m not going to be able to please
everybody with my outward appearance. What matters is what I think about it.”
realisation granted her the freedom to express herself how she wished, and her
career blossomed. Go Lizzo.
Billie Eilish on the sexualisation of female artists
to Billie Eilish, another female artist known for wearing whatever she wants on
stage (side note: does anyone ever question a man’s right to wear whatever he
wants on stage?).
The Bad Guy singer has a trademark look: hoodies, baggy shorts, heavy boots and the occasional face mask.
It’s a personal statement. Eilish, 17, doesn’t want to be sexualised. She doesn’t want her body judged. She said: “Nobody can be like ‘oh, she’s slim thick. She’s not slim thick. She got a flat ass. She’s got a fat ass.’ No one can say any of that because they don’t know.”
Millions of teenage girls have identified with this stance; it’s one of the reasons for Eilish’s success. So when Nylon Germany magazine decided to “celebrate” Eilish’s stratospheric rise what did they do? They sexed her up of course! They hired an artist to create their own “interpretation” of Eilish. And she just happened to be a topless doe-eyed cyborg.
“Youre gonna make a picture of me shirtless??” a disbelieving Eilish wrote on Twitter. “Thats not real?? at 17? and make it the cover????”
real, and it was on the cover. By way of explanation Nylon Germany said: “It was
never our intention to create a look that is confusing or insulting to Billie.
It was only ever our intention to honour her impact by creating this avatar.”
That explained it (not). A young woman with a resolute “I’m not your baby, so f*** off” attitude should feel “honoured” to have her identity stripped (literally) away. To quote Eilish: “that’s not real”.
To the world of opera, where soprano Kathryn Lewek returned to the stage after having a baby. By all accounts she gave a good performance as Eurydice in Orpheus and the Underworld at the Salzburg Festival.
wasn’t her performance that was scrutinised, it was her size. Many critics
commented on it. In fact, Lewek and her female castmates, all professionals,
were reduced to being described as “fat women in tight corsets spreading their
legs” by Die Welt critic Manuel Brug.
challenged as to why he was critiquing the women’s bodies, not their singing, Brug
said: “It is interesting that
the thin ladies on stage all had dresses and the not so thin ones have costumes
where you see a lot of her weight.”
Not that “interesting” Manuel. “Disgraceful” was the way British tenor Anthony Gregory described it.