“What Was I Made For?”—Billie Eilish as Gen Z Icon (Liz Snell, 3/96/24, Rabbit Room)

Gen Z is the most self-marketed generation of all time. Like Barbie, Gen Zers how to make themselves into products for consumption. They know what sells. But do they know who they are? “I was an ideal/Looked so alive/Turns out I’m not real/Just something you paid for”—I wonder how many young influencers see themselves in that mirror. Eilish has said that at one point she felt like a parody of herself. It wasn’t until after she and her brother had written “What Was I Made For?” that she realized, “This is me. This is my life, and how I feel.”

Youth culture’s obsession with Billie Eilish seems to represent a longing for authenticity, for stars who are real and who can speak deeply to human experience, not just to the lifestyle of the rich and famous. I appreciate Eilish’s honesty both in her interviews and music, an honesty too often absent from Christian art. Eilish is thoughtful and creative and addresses important cultural issues with amazing awareness for someone so young. I applaud her probing, existential themes, but I wonder hope looks like in her world. She seems to be wondering, too.

“What was I made for?” It’s a question at the core of what it means to be human, at any age. It’s a timeless question, and Eilish sings it with all the quavering, searching restraint it deserves. Eilish is seeking the answer to this question through her music, and her fans are seeking along with her. Was I made to be exploited or to be powerful? Was I made to love myself or someone else? Was I made to be happy or depressed? Was I made to save the world or watch it burn? Gen Z is asking big questions. What answers are we going to give?