BY JACK WATSON
In her memoir The Woman In Me, Britney Spears, a controversial teen pop artist from the 1990s, shares her story on how she earned her name. The ‘Princess of Pop’, the moving story about her difficult life and the challenges she has faced are highlighted, as are her hard childhood, her father being her conservator and all her setbacks through this period of control verging on abuse.
Early in the book, Spears talks about her childhood and what her upbringing was like. From a very early age, singing was her passion, and she would spend hours outside her house on her own enjoying the peace and her own voice. She said this gave her a sense of ‘aliveness and danger’. Further, she would also use this time to escape from home, where her parents would constantly fight.
Spears did not have the best parenting – her father was an alcoholic and was very abusive to her and the rest of her family. In turn, his father had been a cruel man and acted the same way, especially towards women. Her mother would get frustrated with her father for not taking responsibility for his actions and this is what drove the arguments. Spears managed to block it all out and focus on her talents: singing and dancing. At the age of eight, she was signed by a talent agency and a couple years later she was signed by The Mickey Mouse Club, where she would meet another teen star, Justin Timberlake.
At first, their relationship was robust, and they could not get away from each other, despite rumours of Timberlake cheating on her numerous times. She also cheated on him but they both got over it. They spent three years together and during this time she had an abortion. Then, not long after, Timberlake sent her a text message on the day she was shooting her music video for Overprotected, to say he was breaking up with her. She claimed that he wanted to use her as ammunition for his new album, Justified. She did not get over it but carried on regardless.
Later in the book, Spears dedicates many chapters to the conservator arrangement, which really affected her life. The pop star was legally under the control of her father (Jamie Spears) for thirteen years. During this dark period, her father took money from her, told her what she could eat and stopped her from drinking alcohol, going to parties and having fun. He even tracked how many times she went to the toilet, traced her texts and phone calls and bugged her home. He chose her security staff, lawyers and friends. Whilst going through this controlling abuse, she was being followed and disturbed constantly by the paparazzi – one even sued her – as they made money from pictures of her body and fed off her emotions. She was also given 30 percent unsupervised custodial rights over her two sons, Jayden James and Sean Preston.
Towards the end of the book, she talks about how her father forced her to go to a mental health facility as he thought she was a danger to herself. She spent a lot of time there and was put on different types of medication which did her no good. However, thankfully, her fans stuck with her and began to realise that something was wrong and they campaigned for her. Finally, when she emerged in 2021, she stood up for herself and demanded an end to the conservatory arrangement. She found her own lawyer, who was excellent, and on 29 September 2021, to her relief, her father was removed as her conservator.
Her father should never have put her through such a difficult time, and she has done really well to carry on. The galling aspect of this was that he then had the audacity to tell her that he loved her, and he was proud of her. He bought her jewellery and acted as if all was well. Fortunately, she had the foresight to cut him off and is living a better life without him.
Finally, she was a free woman, but she has never recovered from what happened in her life. She tries to live normally and catch up on everything she missed, but the past is always on her mind. She sees her kids more and is able to take them on holiday when she spends quality time with them. She was also asked by Sir Elton John to feature on his song, Hold Me Closer.
This book is a page-turner; and as the story progresses you will feel a sense of sympathy as it draws you into her lugubrious but interesting story.
I would recommend this book to anyone.
Even if you are not a fan or particularly interested in her, this book will change your mind about Britney Spears.
The woman in me by Britney Spears (2023) is published by Gallery Books and is available at Amazon.
Jack Watson is a 15-year-old schoolboy, who has a Substack about being a Hull City fan. You can subscribe to it here.