It’s obviously a well-established tradition for magazines to have celebrities on the cover. The thing is, when magazine chooses someone famous as their cover star, there’s typically a photoshoot, or at least an actual photo of the person to put on said cover. There’s also typically an interview that serves as the feature for the issue. You’ve all read magazines; you understand how it works. If there’s not a feature or interview for the issue, at the very least, the celeb probably knows that they’re going to be on the cover. But apparently sometimes none of those things are true, hence why Billie Eilish is now beefing with NYLON Germany.
Just in case you’re not aware, a quick explainer of Billie Eilish. She’s only 17 years old, but has quickly become one of the top stars in music, and she got her first number-one song last week with “Bad Guy.” She’s known for her creepy, outside-the-box music and visuals, and she defies traditional beauty standards. Most notably, she usually wears oversized, baggy clothing so people don’t comment on her body. Considering that she’s literally still a child, this seems more than fair. Basically, she’s the current Gen-Z queen.
Billie Eilish’s dedication to taking focus away from her body is part of what makes this story so crazy. A couple days ago, the German edition of NYLON magazine posted their new dual covers on Instagram. The issue is titled “DIGITAL PRODIGIES,” so naturally it features some of the top Gen-Z stars, like Willow Smith, Madelaine Petsch, and Billie Eilish. The first cover features Lisa and Lena, German sisters who had the most-followed account on TikTok until earlier this year. And the second cover, as you’ve probably guessed by now, features Billie Eilish.
But it’s not the Billie Eilish you’re used to seeing. Gone is the silvery hair, the oversized hoodie, and any shred of personality. Instead, the image makes her look like some kind of cyborg, with a bald head and skin that’s a metallic gold. Oh, and she’s not wearing any clothes. It barely even looks like Billie Eilish, which kind of seems like the point.
But it turns out that it doesn’t look like her, because it’s not even a photo of her.
After NYLON Germany posted the cover, Billie Eilish had some things to say in the comments:
Wow wow wow, this is a lot to take in. So first of all, Billie and her team were never asked permission, or even told that this cover was happening. I don’t know what all the rules are for something like this, but this is different than TIME using a photo of Donald Trump without asking permission first. At the very least, it seems like you would notify Billie’s team out of courtesy if an image of her was going to be featured on the COVER.
In her second point, Billie Eilish clarifies that this isn’t even a real picture of her. I don’t know whether they did a full CGI job, or just heavily edited a real photo of her, but this is some weird sh*t. From looking at the photo with no other information, you would definitely think Billie sat down for a whole photoshoot with the magazine, because this doesn’t look like it’s supposed to be a drawing or something.
But Billie’s third point is really the main root of the issue here. The magazine took (or created) an image of someone who’s still a minor, and made it so she’s not wearing clothes, or at least a shirt?? Billie Eilish is incredibly conscious of NOT sexualizing her persona, so for a magazine to do it without asking her permission or even telling her feels like a huge violation.
And lastly, they removed all her f*ckin’ hair. Not cool, guys.
For what it’s worth, Lisa and Lena clarified that they were asked about their cover:
While I’m glad that they consented to their appearance, that makes it all the more sh*tty that NYLON never reached out to Billie Eilish or her team. This kind of reminds me of when Kanye West included a sculpture of Taylor Swift’s naked body in his music video for “Famous” without asking her first. It’s not quite as bad as revenge porn or leaking someone’s actual nudes without their permission, but it’s still an uncool thing to do.
This whole story feels extremely wild considering that Billie Eilish is one of the world’s biggest stars right now, and this magazine only has 15,000 followers on Instagram. I’m truly shocked there was not an immediate take-down and subsequent Notes app apology, but the magazine did (sort of) respond to Billie’s criticism. They updated the caption on the original post with the following statement:
“For this cover, it was never our intention to create a look that is confusing or insulting to Billie Eilish. It was only ever our intention to honor Billies (sp.) impact and her work by creating this avatar which is part of a cover series highlighting the power of digital prodigy artists. This avatar is a piece of 3D artwork created in dedication to her achievements and the positive effect she has had on millions around the globe – including us.”
Yeah, okay, I really didn’t think they put her on the cover because they hated her and her achievements. Essentially, NYLON is doubling down on the cover, and not even addressing Billie’s complaint about the lack of clothes her robot clone is wearing. I get that it’s someone’s artistic vision, but it still clearly feels like they were in the wrong here.
Do you like hearing about all the drama that goes down in the world of Gen-Z celebs? Let me know in the comments if there’s anyone you desperately need to know more about, because I love a good deep dive.
Images: Shutterstock; nylongermany (3) / Instagram