Contains some spoilers for Britney Spears’ memoir.
Britney Spears’ memoir, The Woman in Me, recounts her career as a pop star and the multitude of hardships she went through, including the thirteen-year-long conservatorship battle with her father.
As many already know, in 2008, Spears’ father, Jamie Spears, filed for a conservatorship over his daughter after her hospitalization in a psychiatric facility due to previous public breakdowns heavily covered by the press. Mr. Spears claims to have filed the conservatorship for his daughter’s well-being and deemed that she was no longer fit to make decisions about her career, finances, or even decisions about her personal life. In her memoir, Spears even recalls that whenever she wanted to go on a date with someone, a background check had to be done, an NDA had to be signed, and a blood test had to be submitted. Then, before the first date, the person was informed of Spears’ past dating and sexual history, which Spears found “humiliating” and that this process blocked her from having companionship with anyone and even the ability to fall in love with someone. Despite her father putting her under countless restrictions because he assumed she was unfit to decide anything for herself, Spears was still allowed to create music and perform and go on tour.
Fans sensed there was something more sinister going on with the conservatorship since there was a change in Spears, which she addresses in her memoir and expressed that it felt as if a fire went out in her. The fans started the “#FreeBritney” campaign in 2009 due to this sensed change. Although the fans advocated for her to be freed consistently over the years, it was not until 2021 that Spears would finally be free from the conservatorship. That year was the first time Spears spoke publicly against the conservatorship and how it had ruined her mental health. However, Spears says in her memoir that even though her voice was everywhere, from radio stations to the Internet, there were still many parts of her suppressed. The memoir reveals these suppressed parts since it is the most detailed address given since her release from the conservatorship. However, do not assume it is a tell-all because it is not. Spears does reveal vulnerable parts of her life, but she does not tell everything, which is completely valid and fair. I know we all want to know what goes on behind the scenes of celebrities’ lives, but we are not entitled to those details. Celebrities are people, too, after all.
Spears’ memoir emphasizes the idea that she is just another woman, hence the title, The Woman in Me. Throughout her career, she has been viewed through a variety of lenses. When her career first began as a teenager, everyone saw her as the perfect girl next door, innocent and non-provocative. Yet when Spears began to embrace her womanhood and dress the way she wanted to, the idea of her being the perfect girl next door instantly changed. She became a sexual object. She recalls in her memoir that she noticed the questions male artists were asked during their interviews dealt with their careers, yet the questions she got during interviews dealt with her breasts. They would ask if she had plastic surgery done on them, determined to know whether or not they were real. Of course, it worsened when she and Justin Timberlake broke up. Timberlake released an album around the time of the breakup, and many of the songs seemed to paint Spears as the one who broke his heart, even though the breakup was initiated over text… and by Timberlake. Not long after the breakup, Spears had an interview with Diane Sawyer, who continuously asked harsh questions about what she could have possibly done to break Timberlake’s heart. I also would like to say that if you didn’t hate Justin Timberlake before reading this memoir, you will after.
There is so much more told in Britney Spears’s memoir, and I could go on and on about it and how it deals with the complexity of womanhood, but I believe everyone should read it for themselves. It’s an eye-opening memoir despite its small size (two hundred eighty-eight pages to be exact). Happy reading!