By Kaitlyn Seawood
After a lifetime of being misunderstood and a 13-year conservatorship that controlled her actions, finances and reproductive capabilities, Britney Spears is finally free to tell her story.
The 275-page memoir, titled “The Woman in Me,” was released on Oct. 24 and recounts her career as a teen idol, exploitation by tabloids, time under the conservatorship and final fight for its termination in 2021.
Her love for singing and performing date back to her childhood in Kentwood, Louisiana. Music provided Spears with solace during her father’s alcoholism and her mother’s struggles to provide for the family. Spears gained notoriety swiftly, going from mall performances to touring as a 16-year-old pop artist with boy band NSYNC and having a widely publicized relationship with Justin Timberlake.
As she got older she became aware of how the public perceived her. In her memoir, Spears said, “It seemed like everyone was noticing my breasts and wondering if I had plastic surgery.” She remembered how the pressure increased as she rose to fame on MTV and how the general public’s disapproval finally caused her to start taking Prozac, an antidepressant medication.
Despite acknowledging that Timberlake had cheated on her several times, Spears characterized her relationship with him as magnetic and say their breakup left her devastated. Spears was pressured into getting an abortion in her home bathroom without medical aid when she became pregnant during the relationship. She note that at that moment, she thought she would die. Spears wrote, “It took hours, and I don’t remember how it ended, but I do, twenty years later, remember the pain of it, and the fear.”
Following the breakup, she was the center of the paparazzi’s attention after several interviews. They depicted Spears as a wild party girl, following her around at all times. She stated in her memoir that she “never had a drinking problem” and had no interest in hard drugs; however, she identified Adderall as her “drug of choice,” explaining that it made her feel euphoric. Spears wrote that she found it alluring that it helped her feel less depressed, even if only for a few hours.
In early 2008, Jamie Spears, her father, was appointed conservator of her finances and personal life by the state of California, an arrangement that lasted 13 years. She wrote that her every action was monitored, and she was forced to continue producing music and touring despite only being allocated $2,000 per week. Spears even mentions that her father raked in more than $6 million from her estate during the conservatorship and had even said, “I’m Britney Spears now.”
Any resistance from her was disapproved of, downplayed or disregarded. Despite her repeated attempts to challenge the conservatorship in private, she believed that disagreements with her father toward the end of 2018 marked the beginning of the arrangement’s termination. At that time, she was forced to undergo additional mental health evaluations and spent over three months in rehab.
When a nurse in rehab showed her videos of supporters a part the #FreeBritney movement, Spears realized that conservatorship issues needed to be addressed. She wrote, “That was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen in my life … I don’t think people knew how much the #FreeBritney movement meant to me, especially in the beginning.”
Eventually, the arrangement came to an end, and her father was removed as her conservator. Despite her prolonged distance from a large portion of her family, she wrote about the consequences of the conservatorship in an authentic manner: “Migraines are just one part of the physical and emotional damage I have now that I’m out of the conservatorship. I don’t think my family understands the real damage they did.”
To conclude her memoir, she spoke about what freedom means to her now. “Freedom means that I get to be beautifully imperfect as everyone else. And freedom means the ability, and the right, to search for joy, in my own way, on my own terms.” The pop star reassured her readers that she is now on the path to healing and feels free. She finally got what she wanted and doesn’t take a minute for granted. We love you, Britney, and we are celebrating your freedom.