A quick yet powerful telling
Jayde Atchison (she/her) // Opinions Editor
Freya Emery (she/her) // Illustrator
When I was around eight years old, I opened a birthday gift—a small, thin envelope with something inside I wasn’t able to process. My grandma delighted in telling me the slips of paper were tickets to see Britney Spears in concert. As a pop girlie of the 90s, this was the greatest gift I could ever receive. Bless my sweet grandmother, who only knew one song that played continuously on the radio—she sat beside me as I jumped up and down screaming along to the woman I wanted to be one day.
As both Britney and I got older, I watched her go through things I didn’t understand. I witnessed the media put her down, push her over the edge and turn her into a running joke. I have memories of sitting in high school and discussing the viral “leave Britney alone” YouTube video. No one was taking Britney or her situation seriously. People just went about their business, because what’s one more celebrity scandal?
Fast forward to the last few years and we see Britney is trapped in a conservatorship that is tearing her apart. #FreeBritney is gaining popularity and in November 2021 she escapes her hell and is a free woman after 13 years. At the end of October, Britney released her memoir The Woman In Me, and I couldn’t snag a copy fast enough. I heard rumblings of what to expect—insight into the ultimate 90s relationship, hot gossip but most importantly Britney’s side of the story.
This book is a quick read and I was able to get through it in a day between errands. Miss Spears is not a writer in the book sense, but what lacked in prose skills was gained in passion. She threw caution to the wind after years of being silenced and gave readers a plotline we weren’t aware of. For years the narrative was that Britney was crazy, but her reality was filled with abuse from her family, paparazzi and the men in her life. She was driven to the edge of sanity and was forced to toe the line.
As I was growing up, I had wished to be famous one day but after reading her story I couldn’t have handled the level of fame Britney reached. When I was 19 and wanted to let loose with my girlfriends downtown, no one was following me with cameras and accusing me of alcoholism, drug use or being a danger to myself or others. I was able to be a dumb teenager without judgement, and Britney simply wasn’t allowed that same privilege. She was under scrutiny every day, and her writing explains how it impacted her.
Once I devoured her book and processed all the crap she went through since I first saw her on stage in 2000, I saw the light the book offered. Britney endured hell on earth in order to be with her sons — she sacrificed years of freedom because her love and need to be a mother was stronger. The way she behaves now makes sense after diving into her thoughts. As someone who would browse her social content and thought it was strange, I now view every post with a new lens and can’t help but think “good for her.”
Whether you’ve been a fan since childhood or you’ve just known her as a meme, The Woman In Me offers a side to the story that opens the door to bigger conversations. All you’ve been wanting to know from Justin Timberlake to the infamous buzzcut to taking back her life — Britney lays it all on the table.