If you’re online this week, you may know that Britney Spears has a book published. If you’ve been online at any point in the last 10 years, you may also know that this is a major moment in pop culture.
Published on October 24, The woman in me is the singer’s long-awaited memoir, chronicling her life from naive teen sensation to legendary pop princess. But this is no ordinary story about the life of a celebrity. As any Spears fan knows, the book sheds light on the many controversies that surrounded the singer throughout her life, examining everything from her dysfunctional family and the way she was sexualized as a teenager, right down to her high-profile relationships and even more. profile “breakdowns” (as they were called at the time).
But much of it focuses on the conservatorship that completely stripped Spears of all her professional, personal, financial and even physical autonomy. Until 2021, when, after 13 years, it was finally discontinued following a major social media campaign (#FreeBritney) and a high-profile lawsuit.
Here’s the thing. After years of suffering, Spears is, in theory, better than ever. She is out of guardianship. She is out of her marriage. And she doesn’t look like she’ll be embarking on a non-stop tour anytime soon. Apparently, Britney couldn’t be freer. And yet, I can’t help but feel the horrible feeling that she’s more trapped than ever.
To be clear, I have never met or approached Spears. I have no knowledge of her physical or mental health, and I know nothing about who she really is beyond this person we all see on the small screens we spend far too much time watching. But none of this alleviates my concern.
Since the conservatorship was lifted last year, Spears has remained largely silent in the public sphere, except on Instagram. Last year, she posted obscure and absurd images. There were several semi (and sometimes fully) nude photos. And of course, there have also been many, many videos of her dancing in her kitchen, usually in her underwear – on one occasion she performed a dance with knives, later assuring fans that they were fake .
Then there are the legends. For a time, they focused on the scathing accusations against his family, sometimes leading to public disagreements in the comments section. “I really felt like my dad was trying to kill me and I hope he burns in hell,” one read.
Elsewhere, there have been several stream-of-consciousness captions (“Repost from two months ago because I want my body to look like this again… I don’t know why I took it down… Like the diamond,” it read) usually accompanied by lots of exclamation points. The singer has deleted and reinstalled Instagram more than once, telling her fans in January that she “doesn’t have depression” and that it was now called “River Red”.
I had hoped to find reassurance in Spears’ book that all was well. But after seeing a few clips online, it looks like she’s still keeping us at arm’s length. Of course, through the ghostwriting of American journalist Sam Lanksy, she offers vulnerable confessions and anecdotes. But the language seems superficial and manufactured. It seems the authenticity fans were hoping for didn’t prevail.
This isn’t helped by the fact that she hasn’t done any press for the book, making it once again unclear whether we’ll hear the singer’s voice again. Then there’s the book cover: an old topless photo of Spears. Why can’t we see her now? And given how sexualized the singer has been throughout her career, why don’t we see her in clothes?
I also have other questions. Now that she’s divorced and separated from most of her family, who does Spears spend time with? Who does she rely on as headlines about every aspect of her personal life circulate across the world? And above all, who makes sure she is okay?
For now, the only place we can look for answers is Instagram. Spears’ last message? A photograph of Audrey Hepburn next to the caption: “When you hear ‘we’ve got it’!!! She knows WUUUZZZ UUPPPPP!!! Don’t think they’ve figured it out YET!!!”