Rise and fall of the pop princess: Lessons from Britney Spears’ memoir


Julia Jacobs

Joe Coscarelli

There was a point during the 13 years that a conservatorship strictly governed Britney Spears’ life and career when she gave up fighting, the singer recalls in her memoir, “The Woman in Me.” free translation), which will be released next Tuesday (24) in the United States.

Her father, James P. Spears, was placed in charge of her affairs in 2008 after she was hospitalized twice for involuntary psychological evaluations. At times in the years that followed, she resisted privately, but in the end, her exhaustion and fear of losing access to her two young children prevailed, she recounts in the book.

“After being restrained on a gurney,” the memoir says, “I knew they could physically restrain me any time they wanted. And so I went along with it.” Spears adds: “My freedom in exchange for naps with my kids — that was a trade I was willing to make.”

In the highly anticipated 275 pages of her memoir, which the New York Times obtained from a retail outlet ahead of its authorized release, Spears writes about her career as a teen idol, her struggles that became tabloid fodder, her time under conservatorship and her eventual effort to end it in 2021, when it regains the right to make its own decisions.

Throughout the book, she describes the feeling of being very exposed to the public, very scrutinized, whether by her parents, the paparazzi or even the doctors who, according to her, “took me away from my children, my dogs and my home “. But the story is, by nature, incomplete, blithely referring to Spears’ post-conservatorship marriage to Hesam Asghari, known as Sam, who filed for divorce in August after just over a year.

Below are other notable moments from the book.


From her first solo performance — the holiday anthem “What Child Is This?” — at her mother’s local daycare center to auditions for Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” in rooms full of music industry executives, Spears chronicles her rapid rise to fame as a child and teenager.

When she was 10, she remembers being on “Star Search,” where the host, Ed McMahon, asked her if she had a boyfriend. After she replied no because they were “evil”, McMahon responded, “I’m not evil! How about me?” She “held her ground” until she left the stage, Spears writes, “but then I started crying.”

After appearing on “The Mickey Mouse Club,” Spears writes that she decided she wanted to lead a “normal life” back in Kentwood, Louisiana, until Larry Rudolph, a lawyer her mother met on the audition circuit, suggested she record a demo. She got a recording contract at age 15, and Rudolph became her longtime manager.


Spears quickly went from a teenager performing in malls to a 16-year-old pop princess with a hit single: “…Baby One More Time.” She went on tour with the boy band ‘N Sync and had a high-profile romance with Justin Timberlake.

She writes that she “couldn’t help but notice” that talk show hosts were asking Timberlake different questions than they were asking her. “Everyone kept making strange comments about my breasts,” the book says, “wanting to know if I had had plastic surgery.” The pressure only increased when she became a fixture on MTV, and public criticism eventually led her to start taking Prozac, she recalls.


Spears describes her connection with Timberlake as magnetic and describes their breakup — which she says he initiated via text message — as leaving her “devastated” and fantasizing about quitting show business.

She recalls her reaction to the release of Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River” music video, in which, as she describes it, “a woman who looks like me cheats on him and he becomes sad and wanders through the rain.” She saw the media portraying her as a “whore who had broken the heart of America’s golden boy,” she writes, when in reality: “I was in a coma in Louisiana, and he was happily running around Hollywood.”

As revealed for the first time in excerpts released by People magazine this week, Spears recounts in detail her decision to have an abortion after becoming pregnant during her relationship with Timberlake. She said she did not see the pregnancy as “a tragedy” but that she thought they were too young, leading her to agree “not to have the baby”.

After the breakup, Spears says she felt obligated by her father and management team to participate in an interview with Diane Sawyer, during which Sawyer pressed her about what she did to Timberlake that caused him “so much pain” (in the book , Spears confirms a long-standing rumor when she says she kissed choreographer Wade Robson during her relationship with Timberlake, but suggests her behavior was related to rumors of Timberlake’s infidelity). Spears remembers that interview as a “breaking point” for her.

“I felt like I had been exploited,” she writes, “put in front of the entire world.”


Addressing the peak years of her notorious stint as a target of paparazzi and tabloids, Spears writes about her forays into nightlife and partying in her youth with a sense of incredulity about how they were portrayed in the media.

Of the time she was photographed alongside fellow celebrities like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, Spears writes, “It was never as wild as the press portrayed it to be,” saying she had no interest in hard drugs and “never had a problem with alcohol.” Instead, Spears describes her “medicine of choice” as the ADHD medication Adderall, which “got me high, yes, but what I found most appealing was that it gave me a few hours of less depression.”

Spears writes that during some of her best-known public episodes — shaving her head and attacking a paparazzo’s car — she was “out of control with grief” following the death of her aunt and a custody dispute with her ex-husband, Kevin Federline. “With my head shaved, everyone was afraid of me, even my mother,” she writes. “Those weeks without my children, I lost control, over and over again. I didn’t even know how to take care of myself.”

Spears adds: “I am willing to admit that, in the depths of severe postpartum depression, abandonment by my husband, the torture of being separated from my two babies, the death of my beloved Aunt Sandra, and the constant bombardment of paparazzi pressure , I began to think in some ways like a child.”


In early 2008, amid her public struggles, the singer’s father, known as Jamie, was named conservator of her finances and personal life by the state of California, an arrangement that lasted in various forms until 2021. Even when she returned to working as an artist, Spears writes that her every action was monitored, including who she could date or spend time with.

“I know I was acting wild, but there was nothing I had done that justified them treating me like I was a bank robber,” Spears writes in her memoir. “Nothing that would justify turning my life upside down.”

She describes the decision as being made by her father with the support of her mother and a business manager, Louise Taylor, known as Lou, who denied being an architect of the conservatorship. Jamie Spears has always defended her involvement as an effort to protect her daughter from financial exploitation.

“I was too sick to choose my own boyfriend and yet somehow healthy enough to appear on sitcoms and morning shows, and perform for thousands of people in a different part of the world every week,” writes Spears, adding of his father, “From that point on, I began to think that he saw me as someone put on Earth for no other reason than to help their money flow.” Elsewhere, Spears remembers her father saying, “Now I’m Britney Spears.”

“I went from partying hard to being a real monk,” Spears writes. “Security guards handed me pre-packaged envelopes of medicine and watched me take them. They put parental controls on my iPhone. Everything was vetted and controlled. Everything.”

Any resistance from Spears was frowned upon, ignored or downplayed, she writes: “I even mentioned the conservatorship on a talk show in 2016, but somehow that part of the interview didn’t air. Huh. How interesting.”


Although Spears has occasionally resisted the conservatorship behind the scenes without success, she attributes the beginning of the end of the arrangement to disputes with her father in late 2018, when she was required to undergo more mental health evaluations and then spend more than three months in rehab. .

“My dad said if I didn’t go, then I would have to go to court and I would be embarrassed,” Spears writes, adding that he threatened to make her look like an “idiot.”

In addition to being forced to take lithium at the institution, Spears says she could only watch one hour of television before going to sleep at 9 pm. “They kept me locked up against my will for months,” she writes. “I couldn’t go out. I couldn’t drive a car. I had to donate blood weekly. I couldn’t shower in private. I couldn’t close my bedroom door.”

It was there, at a $60,000-a-month rehab facility in Beverly Hills, that Spears says a nurse showed her clips of fans enacting the viral #FreeBritney movement, which questioned the need for the singer’s guardianship. “That was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Spears writes. “I don’t think people knew how much the #FreeBritney movement meant to me, especially in the beginning.”

She writes that “it seemed like every day there was a new documentary about me on yet another streaming service” (including one, The New York Times’ “Framing Britney Spears”). “Watching the documentaries about me was difficult,” she writes. “I understand everyone had good intentions, but I was hurt that some old friends spoke to filmmakers without consulting me first.” She adds: “There were a lot of assumptions about what I must have thought or felt.”

When her father was removed as her conservator, shortly before the arrangement ended completely, “I felt relief wash over me,” Spears writes. “The man who scared me as a child and ruled my life as an adult, who did more than anyone to undermine my self-confidence, was no longer in control of my life.” When she got the call from her new lawyer, Mathew S. Rosengart, that the conservatorship had officially been terminated, Spears writes that she was at a resort in Tahiti.

But Spears is still sensitive about the fallout from the conservatorship, writing about her continued estrangement from much of her family. “The migraines are just one part of the physical and emotional damage I have now that I am out of guardianship,” she writes. “I don’t think my family understands the true damage they caused.”


Although some say the conservatorship saved Spears’ life, she writes, “No, not really. My music was my life, and the conservatorship was fatal to that; it crushed my soul.”

During her time performing in a Las Vegas show, Spears writes that she was not allowed to update the show. “When I wanted to sing my favorite songs, like ‘Change Your Mind’ or ‘Get Naked,’ they wouldn’t let me,” she writes. “It felt like they wanted to embarrass me rather than allow me to give my fans the best performance possible.”

Now that she has the opportunity to create freely again, the singer writes that she doesn’t feel motivated to do so, although she mentions a unique collaboration with one of her musical heroes, Elton John, released last year. “Advancing my music career is not my focus right now,” says Spears. “It’s time for me to not be someone other people want; it’s time to really find myself.”

Source: Folha

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