Billie Eilish has apologised and said she is “appalled and embarrassed” over a video that emerged appearing to show the singer mouthing a racist slur.
In an edited compilation video posted to TikTok earlier in June, Eilish seems to mouth an anti-Asian slur featured in Tyler The Creator’s song Fish, released in 2011. She was also filmed speaking in various accents.
Posting a lengthy statement on Instagram, the 19-year-old said she was aged 13 or 14 at the time and did not know that the word was derogatory, but said she wanted to address criticism as “I’m being labelled something that I am not”.
“I am appalled and embarrassed and want to barf that i ever mouthed along to that word,” the Grammy-winning star wrote. “This song was the only time I’d ever heard that word as it was never used around me by anyone in my family.
“Regardless of my ignorance and age at the time, nothing excuses the fact is that it was hurtful. and for that i am sorry.”
Eilish, who soared to fame in 2019 and in 2020 won all four of the big prizes at the Grammys, said footage of her imitating accents in another clip was something she has done since she was a child and was just a “silly gibberish made up voice”.
She added: “It is absolute gibberish and just me goofing around, and is in NO way an imitation of anyone or any language, accent, or culture in the SLIGHTEST.”
The star said she did not mean to cause offence and the prospect of causing people hurt “absolutely breaks my heart”.
She finished her statement by writing: “I not only believe in, but have always worked hard to use my platform to fight for inclusion, kindness, tolerance, equity and equality.
“We all need to continue having conversations, listening and learning. i hear you and i love you. thank you for taking the time to read this.”
Eilish is best known for her 2019 hit Bad Guy and her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, and is the youngest artist and first woman to score a number one with a James Bond theme for the long-awaited No Time To Die.
Earlier this year, she appeared on the cover of British Vogue in photographs featuring the star in a “classic old-timey pin-up” look with blonde hair – in vast contrast to the baggy outfits she had become known for wearing.
The singer, who has spoken about having body dysmorphia in the past, told the magazine that some people might criticise her for changing her look but that people should make their own rules.