Each year since 2017, Billie Eilish sits down for the same exact interview with Vanity Fair. She’s asked a range of questions from the nastiest rumor about her to her biggest fear. Her answers are meant to chart her rise to fame and show how much she’s grown in her teenage years. But most glaring contrast between the interviews isn’t the amount of Instagram followers she has (currently 84.6 million) or that fact that she now has a tattoo. Rather, it’s the vibrant color of her hair.
Billie Eilish’s neon green roots have been a staple of her look for the past two years. Her hair had previously alternated between a range of blue hues, and she even had a short stint with black hair. So when she unveiled her new platinum blonde look on Instagram, the internet was stunned. In under six minutes, the picture of Eilish with her icy golden locks became the fastest post to reach a million likes and just two days later, it was the third most-liked post ever.
So, why is everyone so obsessed with Billie Eilish’s hair? On the surface, it’s just hair. But like for most pop stars, no change Eilish makes is detached from the larger context of her music. Her green hair may have started on accident as she was trying cover up blue dye, but it’s transformed into a statement of her authenticity and will always be linked to her debut album. As someone known for her brightly-colored locks, going full blonde signals a kind of maturity which people expect to be reflected in her music. And as one of the biggest celebrities of her age group, people look to her for new trends and styles to try out.
omg billie eilish is so radiant and amazing with all of these hair colors pic.twitter.com/ZFlX3tNgH5
— chisito (@luzxanny) March 30, 2021
At the time of her hair change, Eilish had been endlessly teasing her new album. Fans began wondering why it had been so long since the singer tried out a new hair color. She eventually addressed their constant teasing in a video, saying she was gearing up to start a whole new era. “I’m changing it… it will be the end of an era, I’m going to give you a new era,” she said. “I have announcements to make, I got some sh*t to put out. Anyway, doesn’t matter, leave me alone, let me live with my hair that I’ve had for way too long.”
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) December 22, 2020
Eilish promised a new era, and she delivered. Though she had been dropping hints about her sophomore album for a while, unveiling her blonde hair was essentially confirmation of new music to come. Sure enough, Eilish officially announced the album Happier Than Ever just a few weeks later and her stripped-down single “Your Power” arrived shortly thereafter.
Eilish is far from the first pop star to change up her hair to signal a new era of music. Miley Cyrus chopped her hair into a teased mullet to go along with her ‘80s-inspired rock album. Dua Lipa bleached her bangs ahead of her Future Nostalgia LP. But none such makeovers elicited a major public response like Eilish’s blonde look, partly due to how drastic it was.
Days before showing off her new look, Eilish had been seen rocking her typical neon green hair at the 2021 Grammy Awards. But after showing off her blonde hair, the singer revealed she actually had been wearing a wig for six weeks while the bleach settled. Eilish’s wig didn’t come as a surprise to her most devoted fans. Many of her followers suspected her hair had been a wig ever since she was seen slightly adjusting it in an interview and an Instagram Story posted to the official Grammys page featured Eilish saying, “I can’t take my wig off.”
Her fans intense interest in whether or not her hair was real reflects how Eilish differs from the typical archetype of a pop star. She’s not seen as manufactured or the product of an industry; she’s authentically herself. For her fans, Eilish is relatable and her no f*cks given mentality and personal style makes her someone to look up to. Her green roots may have been scandalous in 2019, but the hair color has since become a trend. YouTube is flooded with tutorials on how to copy Eilish’s neon root color at home and the look even appeared on the runway earlier this year.
Fashion trends aside, Eilish’s new hair was more than an announcement of her sophomore album. It also points to the direction she plans on taking her new music. Many see her blonde locks as a sign of maturity, which was further proven with her recent revealing Vogue cover shoot, and fans expect the same growth to be reflected in her upcoming LP. Speaking about her new look, Eilish herself said it makes her “feel more like a woman somehow,” and she’s not the only one who agrees. Her brother and producer Finneas declared that the hair change signifies the fact she’s growing up:
“The green roots were such a recognizable thing and whenever there’s a point of change, people just get really excited and fixated on it. […] Hair is the easiest way to feel like you’re evolving as a person. Whenever you change your hairstyle, dye it a little, you feel like you’re growing up a little bit.”
Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele, who regularly collaborates with Eilish, echoed Finneas. To him, the singer is a new kind of pop star — one who is never afraid of reinventing herself. “Billie represents something completely new,” he said. “She is a continuously evolving artist with a new vision and interpretation of herself in terms of femininity. Billie is exactly where she means to be without prejudice.”
This time around, fans were right to speculate that Eilish’s new hair meant new music. But it won’t always be that way. In the past, the singer has wondered why people scrutinize her looks. Like most teenagers, she’s consistently trying out new styles to see which ones fit her best. “It’s funny that I’m expected to have found myself and stick with it,” she said in a 2020 interview. “I’m trying different things out; I’m trying different ways of living, and styles, and personalities, and hairstyles, and clothing, and shoes. I’m trying it all out because I’m a growing f*cking girl.” Eilish may decide to switch up her look in the future without it promising new music because at 19 years old, she’s still figuring out who she wants to be. And that’s okay too.
Some of the artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.