Upon the release of the most highly anticipated memoir of 2023, The Woman In Me by Britney Spears, media outlets ran wild with intimate details about Spears’ past relationship with Justin Timberlake. Then coined as “America’s Golden Couple,” these co-stars turned lovers struggled to maintain their innocent, young love from the paparazzi.
Despite Spears’ shocking revelation about her abortion, news outlets happily crucified Timberlake for “not wanting to be a dad.” While the hate train is a fair conclusion, has no one considered Spears’ decision as a result of childhood trauma? Something that still plagues her post-conservatorship recovery and long-winded Instagram captions.
The first pages set the stage for Spears’ devastating family tree of female family members suffering in silence. This stems from her grandfather, who committed his first wife to an insane asylum following their newborn’s death. She was strung out on lithium and, after being released, shot herself atop her son’s grave. The grandfather’s children, including Britney’s father, were witness to such parental abuse and, often, physical violence. Even though he landed his second wife in the same mental asylum, the family labeled the grandfather’s abuse as “a strive for perfection”
The same turbulence followed Spears’ childhood, where stardom was more believable than a happy family. Her dad’s unpredictable drunk rages often resulted in days-long disappearances, including Christmas and his son’s first birthday. In spite of this, Spears became an apt child, gifted with astounding stage presence and a deep-seated desire to disappear.
Despite her immense success after “… Baby One More Time,” with new heights following her third album, Britney, Spears rarely visited her hometown Kentwood, Louisiana. In exchange, she had a better rapport with her partner’s parents, including holiday getaways with Timerlake’s family.
In the face of their messy break-up, Spears held little resentment towards Timberlake, already seeing through his shady PR stunts for his solo debut album, Justified. Spears finally retreated to her new Kentwood family home, which she bought—in addition to paying her father’s debt from failed businesses—to see the same dysfunctional family.
What was supposed to be a reprise from her Dream Within A Dream tour was an impromptu People cover story. What her team mistook as retirement fears was Spears needing a major mental health break following her Mexico City finale.
Yes, Timberlake put Spears in the hot seat with every news outlet, yet Spears was more angry with how outlets perpetuated these misogynistic and untrue statements to unbelievable heights. Spears was more angry at the people around her making decisions for her, when all she wanted was time to figure things out.
Thus, this chaotic and controlling familial power led to a career-defining conservatorship, spawning abusive ultimatums. The #FreeBritney movement would champion Spears’ eventual freedom a decade later, with an unsolvable amount of trauma.