What Britney Spears Reveals About Her Conservatorship in The Woman in Me

What Britney Spears Reveals About Her Conservatorship in The Woman in Me

Nearly two years after Britney Spears’ conservatorship was officially terminated, the pop icon is revealing new details about the legal guardianship that controlled her life for 13 years.

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At age 26, Britney was originally placed under the conservatorship in 2008 following a series of public incidents, including shaving her head and attacking a paparazzo’s car with an umbrella, that raised concerns about her mental welfare. The court-approved arrangement gave Britney’s father, Jamie Spears, and an attorney control over her finances and many facets of her personal life, with filings claiming Britney suffered from an undisclosed mental illness and substance abuse.

In her memoir, The Woman in Me—an excerpt of which was published by People on Tuesday ahead of the book’s Oct. 24 release—Spears details how Jamie abused his position of power over her.

“If I thought getting criticized about my body in the press was bad, it hurt even more from my own father. He repeatedly told me I looked fat and that I was going to have to do something about it,” she writes. “Feeling like you’re never good enough is a soul-crushing state of being for a child. He’d drummed that message into me as a girl, and even after I’d accomplished so much, he was continuing to do that to me.”

Britney goes on to explain how the conservatorship robbed her of the opportunity to come into her own as an adult.

“The conservatorship stripped me of my womanhood, made me into a child,” she writes. “I became more of an entity than a person onstage. I had always felt music in my bones and my blood; they stole that from me. If they’d let me live my life, I know I would’ve followed my heart and come out of this the right way and worked it out.”

While under the conservatorship, Britney recorded and released four hit albums and headlined her “Piece of Me” Las Vegas residency show, which grossed $138 million over the course of its four-year run.

“I sometimes thought that it was almost funny how I won those awards for the album I made while I was supposedly so incapacitated that I had to be controlled by my family,” she writes of the success of her 2008 album Circus. “The truth was, though, when I stopped to think about it for very long, it wasn’t funny at all.”

The expectations put on her to be “wild” while performing and robotic the rest of time were oppressive, Britney says.

“I felt like I was being deprived of those good secrets of life—those fundamental supposed sins of indulgence and adventure that make us human,” she writes. “They wanted to take away that specialness and keep everything as rote as possible. It was death to my creativity as an artist.”

After her conservatorship was terminated on. November 12, 2021, Britney says that it took her a long time to feel ready to tell her story to the world.

“Since I’ve been free, I’ve had to construct a whole different identity,” she writes. “I’ve had to say, ‘Wait a second, this is who I was—someone passive and pleasing. A girl. And this is who I am now—someone strong and confident. A woman.’”

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