‘The Woman in Me’: Britney Spears is sharing her story, on her terms

Spoilers for “The Woman in Me ahead.

TW: Abortion, previous abusive relationship.

Samantha Sanders | Graphic Artist

“The Woman in Me” was released on Oct. 24, and after starting the book the minute I was able to get a copy, I finished the memoir two days later. I just couldn’t put it down. 

As someone who has been following the “Free Britney” movement since I first saw it as an X hashtag, the announcement of this book had me eager. For the next year, I’d look for updates on when she’d release the memoir, each day getting more and more curious about what she’d include in the book. As a fan and someone who kept myself up to date about the latest news regarding her conservatorship, I was ready to learn more about her 13-year battle for her freedom.

Two words I’d use to describe this memoir are brutally honest — like, extremely brutally honest. She isn’t holding back about her negative experiences touring and releasing music, going as far describing her dwindling passion for performing as her career furthered. 

The pressures of the limelight would take a toll on her feelings toward music, reminiscing the making of her first music video for her single,“…Baby One More Time.” 

“That’s probably the moment in my life when I had the most passion for music. I was unknown, and I had nothing to lose if I messed up,”  Spears wrote. “There is so much freedom in being anonymous.”

When it comes to her family, namely her father, she doesn’t hold back.

From the beginning of the memoir her father is criticized, with Spears describing him as an alcoholic who self-medicated himself after years of abuse from his own father. His obsession with control and the attitude that nothing his children did were “good enough” would lay the groundwork for his behavior when he managed Britney’s life and estate under the conservatorship. Later in the book, she questions how the state of California ever allowed a man like her father to ever be in control of her life and finances. 

Jamie Spears would be responsible for managing her own career decisions, deciding when she’d tour next, when she’d have time to rest, when she could see her children and when she could have children of her own again, even being denied appointments to get her IUD removed. 

Britney would abide by these decisions for 13 years, being lied to, told that she could not pick her own lawyer to represent her in the conservatorship, with no access to a cell phone of her own and no way to let the world know what she was going through.

The memoir is gut-retching, with never before heard, intimate details about her highly-publicized relationship with Justin Timberlake. Facts that had the most diehard Britney fans with their jaws fully extended to the floor and fists ready and aimed for Timberlake’s face.

One instance in particular describes her experience carrying his child, wanting to go through with the pregnancy but being advised not to by Timberlake because the two were “too young,” leading to an agonizing at-home abortion procedure. 

Timberlake wouldn’t be the only relationship Spears discusses in the memoir, sharing intimate details about her experience with ex-husband, Kevin Federline. Spears explained how he kept her away from the children for weeks on end: One of these instances would act as the build up to her infamous breakdown where she went into a hair salon and used clippers to shave her head bald — a significant moment in pop culture history. 

She attributes her untreated postpartum-depression, lack of contact with the kids and grief resulting from the death of her aunt as factors that brought her to a dark place before the infamous event in February 2007. 

Spears had this to say about the incident: “Shaving my head was a way of saying to the world: F** you. You want me to be pretty for you? F** you. You want me to be good for you? F** you. You want me to be your dream girl? F** you.”

She’s vulnerable, personal and raw. The memoir reads like a venting session with a close friend you haven’t seen in a long time. It serves as an update for fans regarding how she’s handling life after conservatorship as well.

As for music plans, fans shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for new material.

“Pushing forward in my music career is not my focus at the moment,” Spears said. “Right now it’s time for me to try to get my spiritual life in order, to pay attention to the little things, to slow down. It’s time for me to not be someone who other people want. It’s time to actually find myself.” 

The memoir is a testament to the way she was taken for granted by the media, public and her own family. It’s the story of a woman who’s mental health was not considered, someone forced to the limelight by people who had little care for her. 

It’s a celebrity memoir I’m recommending to everyone I know. In a now deleted Instagram post,    Spears hinted at the possibility of a second volume.

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