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For the first time since her 2021 court appearance, Britney Spears is formally addressing her 13-year conservatorship. Her recent memoir, “The Woman in Me,” takes just 275 pages to outline everything from her rocky childhood in Louisiana, romantic relationship woes, public breakdowns, enduring relationship with Madonna and, maybe most significantly, life under conservatorship.
In 2021, the #FreeBritney campaign catapulted Spears’ overly-regulated life under conservatorship into the public eye. The movement provided her with courage to speak out and eventually reclaim her freedom.
Here are key reveals from Spears’ memoir, “The Woman in Me,” in which the singer addresses life under conservatorship and the enduring consequences of legally losing her freedom.
‘The Woman in Me’: Britney Spears opens up about 13 years under conservatorship
After an explosive rise to fame, seven Grammy Award nominations, two failed marriages and two involuntary psychological assessments, Spears lost her freedom and identity to her father — “I am Britney Spears now,” Spears recalled her father saying at the start of what became a 13-year nightmare for the pop sensation.
Under conservatorship, the star likened herself to a “child-robot,” unable to make even the simplest choices for herself, such as what to eat.
Roughly two years after Spears’ conservatorship was legally terminated, the singer still struggles to understand why her freedom was confiscated and who she wants to be moving forward.
1. Going out with Spears required signing an NDA
According to Spears, anyone who wished to go on a date with her was required to undergo a background check, consent to a blood test and sign an NDA.
“Before a date, Robin (Greenhill) would tell the man my medical and sexual history,” Spears writes, per Vulture. “To be clear, this was before the first date.” Robin Greenhill is Spears’ former business manager.
It didn’t get easier after the first date. Spears says her phone was constantly monitored with parental controls and later discovered all calls and texts between Spears and her boyfriends were under surveillance, per Vulture.
2. Jamie Spears made inappropriate comments about his daughter’s weight
“For two years, I ate almost nothing but chicken and canned vegetables,” Spears revealed, per Vulture.
Her father, Jamie Spears, allegedly called her “fat” and regulated what foods she ate. Spears recalled often begging for ice cream, fries or hamburgers but being told by staff that was not allowed. Under conservatorship, she did not get to choose her own meals, per the BBC.
“No matter how much I dieted and exercised, my father was always telling me I was fat,” the singer writes, per the Guardian. “My body was strong enough to carry two children and agile enough to execute every choreographed move perfectly onstage. And now here I was, having every calorie recorded so people could continue to get rich off my body.”
“Now,” she writes, per the BBC, “I get to eat chocolate again”
3. Shaving her head was a power play
Spears was fed up of being “eyeballed so much” growing up. Her notorious head-shaving incident before paparazzi was her own way of taking back control.
“I’d been looked up and down, had people telling me what they thought of my body, since I was a teenager,” the singer writes in her memoir, per People. “Shaving my head and acting out were my ways of pushing back.”
The public act of rebellion also came in the wake of an emotionally exhausting custody battle and a tough case of postpartum blues.
“With my head shaved, everyone was scared of me, even my mom,” she writes, per The New York Times. “Flailing those weeks without my children, I lost it, over and over again. I didn’t even really know how to take care of myself.”
4. Spears feared her family wanted to kill her
In several instances in her memoir, Spears reveals that she feared her family intended to kill her. Spears was put under conservatorship for 13 years after separating from her second husband, Kevin Federline.
Desperate to spend time with her two young sons, Spears felt she had to go along with the conservatorship to maintain access to them, per The Guardian. At times she fought back, but she said she feared her family might kill her.
“And here’s the sad, honest truth: After everything I had been through, I didn’t have a lot of fight left in me. I was tired, and I was scared, too. After being held down on a gurney, I knew they could restrain my body anytime they wanted to. They could’ve tried to kill me, I thought. I started to wonder if they did want to kill me,” the singer writes, per Billboard.
While at a rehabilitation center in Beverly Hills (her father threatened to make her look like an “idiot” if she refused to go, per Vulture), Spears was once again haunted by the idea that her family had a secret plan to kill her.
“I was a shell of myself,” writes Spears, per Billboard. “I was still on lithium, which made my sense of time really hazy. And I was scared. It crossed my mind that they were only visiting to finish off what they started a few months earlier, to kill me for real. If that sounds paranoid, consider all the things I’ve been through up until this point — the ways in which they had deceived and institutionalized me.”
5. A nurse introduced her to the #FreeBritney campaign from rehab
While staying in a $60,000-per-month Beverly Hills rehabilitation center (allegedly against her will) a nurse introduced her to the #FreeBritney campaign. Spears says the nurse showed her clips of fans participating in the viral #FreeBritney movement, many of them questioning Spears’ need to be under conservatorship.
“Seeing them marching in the streets, chanting ‘Free Britney!’ — that was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen in my life,” she writes, per The New York Times. “I don’t think people knew how much the #FreeBritney movement meant to me, especially in the beginning.”
The clips provided Spears with a fresh sense of courage and she soon after called 911 to report herself as a victim of conservatorship abuse, per the BBC.
6. She still does not understand why she was put under conservatorship
Despite Jamie Spears’ tarnished track record, he was given legal control over his Grammy-winning adult daughter — something Spears has yet to make sense of.
“I remained shocked that the state of California would let a man like my father — an alcoholic, someone who’d declared bankruptcy, who’d failed in business, who terrified me as a little girl — control me after all my accomplishments and everything I had done,” writes Spears, per Vulture.
From a young age, the Spears family relied on their burgeoning pop star financially. She never failed them.
“I was so nerdy that I kept all my receipts in a bowl. I knew musicians who did heroin, got in fist-fights, and threw TVs out of hotel windows. Not only didn’t I steal anything or hurt anyone or do hard drugs — I was keeping charge of my tax deductions,” Spears told her readers, per The Telegraph.
Life under conservatorship resulted in moments where Britney questioned what she had done to earn such treatment, often asking herself: “Was I a cannibal? Was I a bank robber? Was I a wild animal? Why was I treated as though I were about to burn the place down and murder them all?” per The Guardian.
7. Freedom from conservatorship is no fairy tale ending for Spears
“Migraines are just one part of the physical and emotional damage I have now that I’m out of the conservatorship,” she writes, per Vulture. “I don’t think my family understands the real damage that they did.”
At the conclusion of life under conservatorship, Spears put an emphasis on feeling “more compassion than anger” toward her estranged family, which is “not easy.”
“I made peace with my family,” the singer writes, per The Guardian. “By which I mean that I realized I never wanted to see them again, and I was at peace with that.”
Now, she is ready to focus on herself.
“It’s time for me not to be someone who other people want,” Spears writes, per the BBC. “It’s time to actually find myself.”