It’s safe to say that the Happier Than Ever singer did not disappoint with her monologue, musical gig, and hilarious sketches — complete with surprise cameos from her brother, Finneas, and fellow singer Miley Cyrus.
And one topic Billie didn't shy away from was making light of the long-running discourse around her style, body, and overall appearance.
If you didn’t know, Billie — who became associated with baggy, oversize clothes and green-rooted hair in her early years of fame — has recently branched out from her signature style, rocking more form-fitting, “feminine” looks. Though the shift has received large amounts of praise, Billie has also been called “disingenuous” and “cringy” by critics simply for experimenting with how she presents herself.
Diving straight into the subject in her SNL monologue, Billie began, “I’m so excited to be here! My name is Billie Eilish. If you don’t know me from my music, you may know me from my hair or my clothes.”
“That is why I decided to dress like Mrs. Claus going to the club,” Billie joked of her outfit, which consisted of a puffy Simone Rocha dress with red and white stiletto boots.
She continued, “But actually, no. I’m only wearing this because after the show I gotta go get married in an animé.”
Turning her attention directly to her fashion choices, Billie — who often dressed in baggier outfits to avoid her body being judged or scrutinized — went on to poke fun at the widespread intrigue over her clothes.
“Some people wonder why I started wearing baggy clothes… There was actually a good reason. It wasn’t just for comfort, or for style,” she said on SNL, before going on to poke fun at the subject.
“This is hard to say for me, but the real reason I wore big oversized clothes back then is… I was actually two kids stacked on top of each other trying to sneak into an R-rated movie,” she joked, which was met with a roar of applause from the crowd.
Billie went on to address the “scary” experience of growing up and evolving in the public eye, noting that it’s unfair to be judged by fashion choices made years ago.
Speaking of her upcoming 20th birthday, Billie said, “I am actually really excited to get older because I am just now starting to understand who I actually am as a person.”
“And the scary thing about growing up in the public eye is people just decide that everything you say and do and look like is who you are forever,” she said.
“Would you wanna be judged by the way you presented yourself when you were 16?” she questioned. “No.”
“It takes time and effort to accept who you really are,” Billie went on to add. “I spent a lot of years pretending to be somebody that I’m not.”
If you missed it, Billie made headlines back in May when she embraced a “classic Hollywood” style for Vogue, wearing several designer corsets. With the look being so different from the kinds of outfits she’d rocked before, some people criticized Billie for seemingly conforming to a beauty standard that they felt she’d been fighting to dismantle for years.
“I did that Vogue cover and it was a genre that we were doing the shoot for,” Billie said in a recent video with Vanity Fair. “It was an old kind of Hollywood lingerie kind of classic thing.”
“It was supposed to be a specific aesthetic for a photo shoot, and then it was like, ‘Billie Eilish's new style’ and people kept being like, ‘Wow, her new style, it’s so much better than the old style.’ Or like, ‘Wow, I wish that we could have her old style back, I’m so sad that she’s just changed into this,’” she said, quoting some of the criticism she’d received.
“It was so weird because I was like, 'It’s not a new style. It's one thing I wore and then I’m gonna wear this another day and then I’m gonna do this,’” she added. “Literally the thing that I’ve been preaching about since I first started is to wear what you want."
Billie went on to discuss how the shift in her appearance has helped her to feel confident and manage her way around people when out in public, noting that her change from green to blonde hair meant she wasn’t as recognizable.
“My attitude used to be, ‘Well, I can’t go out. You know, I can’t go here. I can’t go there,’” she explained, looking back on a clip of herself at age 18. “And I used to just not even be able to go to a park or go get food or get coffee.
“In the last year, I have been open to it. I really feel grateful for that because being able to feel confident stepping outside without a hat and a hood and glasses and a mask and a jacket ... It’s so much better and you don't have to live like that. And I realized that this year that I don't have to live like that.
“And my hair is blonde now, so it’s not, like, the only person you’ve ever seen with green hair walking by,” Billie added. She went on to switch things up again earlier this month, debuting new dark hair in an Instagram post.
In a similar vein, Billie recalled losing 100,000 followers after posting a picture wearing a corset and a lace bra back in September.
Speaking with Elle — who noted the photo was met with an onslaught of hateful comments — Billie admitted that she found it “dehumanizing” to be associated with just one particular style.
“I lost 100,000 followers, just because of the boobs,” Billie said of the picture. “People are scared of big boobs.”
“People hold on to these memories and have an attachment,” she added. “But it's very dehumanizing.”