Not a single living soul was surprised when Britney Spears announced that her memoir, The Woman In Me, has (reportedly) become the best-selling memoir in history. Not one! Tackling the gendered double standards of the music industry to her public breakdown and thirteen-year conservatorship, as well as her toxic romance with former popular singer Justin Timberlake, the 275-page tell-all has received universal critical acclaim whilst permeating the minds of every queer (and tabloid journalist) across the globe.
Read ahead for thirteen crucial revelations from The Woman In Me, from fun details of Britney’s generation-defining pop career to her father’s despicable and inhuman treatment of her during the conservatorship, in addition to the first time she met ‘The Elusive Chanteuse’ and her reverence for the LGBTQIA+ community.
The video concept for ‘…Baby One More Time’ was her idea
In chapter nine, Britney reveals that her label originally wanted the music video for ‘…Baby One More Time’ to have a futuristic theme, with her embodying a “Power Rangers”-like astronaut. However, Britney knows a flop when she sees one! “That image didn’t resonate with me, and I had a feeling my audience wouldn’t relate to it either,” she says. “I told the executives at the label that I thought people would want to see my friends and me sitting at school, bored, and then as soon as the bell rang, boom – we’d start dancing.” Thanks to the schoolgirl ensemble and dance routines, as well as the aforementioned bell, the visual for ‘…Baby One More Time’ is now widely hailed as one of the most iconic in history, so this little detail continues to cement Britney’s status as a creative pop genius.
Mariah Carey: inventor of ring lights confirmed
The Woman In Me sees Britney reflect on the first time she met Mariah Carey at “one awards show”, where she knocked on her dressing room door and was met with “the most beautiful, otherworldly light” (camp). “You know we all have ring lights now? Well, more than twenty years ago, only Mariah Carey knew about ring lights,” she jokes, before revealing that she tried to get the elusive chanteuse to take a photo on her bad side. “She said, “No! Come stand here, darling. This is my light. This is my side. I want you to stand here so I can get my good side, girl.” She kept saying that in her deep, beautiful voice: “My good side, girl. My good side, girl.” I did everything Mariah Carey told me to do and we took the photo. Of course she was completely right about everything – the photo looked incredible.” Britney then admits that she can’t remember what award she won that night because getting the “perfect photo with Mariah was “the real prize”. We get it.
Why she was relieved she lost the lead role in The Notebook
Following Britney’s acting debut in the cult comedy film Crossroads, she auditioned to play Allie Calhoun in The Notebook, which starred her Mickey Mouse Club co-star Ryan Gosling. After embracing her inner method actor for Crossroads left her mentally knackered, she admits that she was “relieved” to lose out on the role to Rachel McAdams. “I’m glad I didn’t do it,” she shares. “I’d have been acting like a 1940s heiress day and night.” The footage of Britney’s audition recently went viral, with casting director Matthew Barry telling Daily Mail that she was “phenomenal” and “brought her A-game that day.” It has been confirmed by many a scientist that the multiverse is 100 per cent real (that might need fact checking), so there is a universe out there in which Britney Spears is an Oscar nominee/winner for playing Allie in The Notebook. Take us there! Now!
Justin Timberlake framed Britney as the “bad guy”
Although Justin Timberlake cheated on Britney on multiple occasions, and it was ultimately his unwillingness to be a father that led to her abortion, he “framed” her as the “bad guy” with his subsequent debut solo album, Justified. With the music video for ‘Cry Me a River’ featuring a Britney lookalike and lyrics speaking of infidelity, Britney was slaughtered in the media. Justin also insinuated that Britney had been the cheater in an interview with Barbara Walters, before playing her an unreleased song titled ‘Don’t Go (Horrible Woman)’. “In the news media, I was described as a harlot who’d broken the heart of America’s golden boy. The truth: I was comatose in Louisiana, and he was happily running around Hollywood,” she says. “May I just say that on his explosive album and in all the press that surrounded it, Justin neglected to mention the several times he’d cheated on me?” Britney goes on to acknowledge how there’s “always been more leeway in Hollywood for men”, and that “getting revenge on women for perceived disrespect” was popular in the industry at the time: “”Cry Me a River” did very well. Everyone felt sorry for him. And it shamed me.” According to reports, the contents of The Woman in Me has led to Justin cancelling his pop comeback. ‘What Goes Around… Comes Around’ is such a great song, isn’t it?
Britney felt “exploited” with Diane Sawyer interview
In 2003, Britney sat down for an interview with Diane Sawyer, where she was continuously challenged about ‘causing Justin so much pain and suffering’. According to Britney, she was told the interview was happening and didn’t have any say in the matter. “I’d often retreated to my apartment to be alone; now I was being forced to speak to Diane Sawyer and cry in front of the entire nation.” She describes her time with the journalist as “completely humiliating” because she was “relentlessly” probed with invasive questions. As a 21-year-old, Britney says she was ‘too vulnerable and sensitive to do this type of interview’, as well as “exploited” and “set up in front of the whole world” for ratings. A “switch had been flipped”: “I felt something dark come over my body. I felt something turning, almost like a werewolf, into a Bad Person.” Britney’s quotes suggest that the interview is a pivotal moment in her mental health’s downward spiral. “I honestly feel like that moment in my life should have been a time for growing – and not sharing everything with the world. It would have been the better way to heal,” she explains. “But I had no choice. It seemed like nobody really cared about me.”
Recording Blackout gave her a sense of “freedom”
Although Blackout, Britney’s fifth studio album, is associated with her breakdown, it’s widely considered to be her best by fans, as well as one of the most innovative pop albums of all time. At this point in her career, Britney shares that she was coming to terms with “the breakup with J and going on the rough Onyx tour, marrying someone who no one seemed to think was a good match, and then trying to be a good mother inside of a marriage that was collapsing in real time.” Yet, she felt “creative” and pure “freedom” while recording Blackout. “I loved that no one was overthinking things and that I got to say what I liked and didn’t like,” she says. “I knew exactly what I wanted, and I loved so much of what was offered to me.” Britney continues to describe Blackout as a “battle cry” and a “fuck you” to her controlling parents, as well as the toxic music industry. “Blackout was one of the easiest and most satisfying albums I ever made,” she explains, adding that the recording process for ‘Hot as Ice’ was “one of the most spiritual recording moments of my life”.
Behind the scenes of the green umbrella
From the loss of her aunt Sandra to her ex-husband Kevin Federline refusing her “entry” to see her children, there was a lot on Britney’s mind the night she attacked a paparazzo’s car with an umbrella. The star, alongside her cousin and former assistant Alli Sims, were taunted by the press about her being ostracised from her kids. “This was one of the worst moments of my life, and he kept after me?” Britney recalls. “Couldn’t he treat me like a human being? Couldn’t he back off? But he wouldn’t. He just kept coming.” The photographer was “smiling” at how distressed Britney was, to which she ‘finally snapped’ and “grabbed the only thing within reach, a green umbrella”. Acknowledging that it was a “desperate move by a desperate person,” Britney even sent the photo agency an apology note for her behaviour. The paparazzo didn’t hold the same remorse, however: “Later, that paparazzo would say in an interview for a documentary about me, “That was not a good night for her. But it was a good night for us-’cause we got the money shot.”” Scum.
Behind the scenes of her Gimme More VMA performance
Britney received a lot of flack in 2007 for her performance of ‘Gimme More’, which resulted in the viral “Leave Britney alone!” video. While Britney didn’t want to perform (noticing a trend here), she ultimately conceded as a result of mounting pressure from her label to show the world that she was “fine”. “The only problem with this plan: I was not fine,” she says, sharing that she hadn’t “slept the night before” and was “dizzy”: “It was less than a year since I’d had my second baby in two years but everyone was acting like my not having six-pack abs was offensive.” That same night, Justin performed ‘Give It To Me’ with Nelly Furtado and Timbaland, one of the first times she had seen him since their bitter break-up. “Everything was going great in his world. He was at the top of his game in every way, and he had a lot of swagger,” she says. “I was having a panic attack. I hadn’t rehearsed enough. I hated the way I looked. I knew it was going to be bad. I went out there and did the best I could at that moment in time, which – yes granted – was far from my best at other times.” Although Britney won’t defend the performance, she highlights how all performers have “bad nights” and “don’t usually have consequences so extreme”: “You also don’t usually have one of the worst days of your life in the same exact place and time that your ex has one of his best.”
Britney’s dates would have to submit blood tests
During her conservatorship, which came to an end in 2021 after the highly-publicised #FreeBritney movement, every man that wanted to date the star was forced to “submit a blood test”. Lou Taylor, Britney’s former business manager, also made her employee Robin Greenhill tell the men her “medical and sexual history” before their first date. “The whole thing was humiliating, and I know the insanity of this system kept me from finding basic companionship, having a fun night out, or making new friends — let alone falling in love,” she says. “Thinking back on the way my father was raised by June and the way I was brought up by him, I had known from the jump that it would be an actual nightmare to have him in charge. The thought of my father taking over any aspect of my life had filled me with fear. But taking over everything? It was just the worst thing that could possibly ever happen to my music, my career, and my sanity.”
Britney “withheld” in her conservatorship performances
In Chapter 37, Britney reminisces on her Las Vegas residency, admitting that she “withheld onstage” to “punish the people” who held her captive in her conservatorship. Inadvertently, Britney says she punished herself and her fans. “But now I know why I’d been sleepwalking through so much of the past thirteen years. I was traumatised,” she confides, continuing to explain that she put in the bare minimum for her performances to “rebel”. “And so I didn’t toss my hair or flirt. I did the moves and I sang the notes, but I didn’t put the fire behind it that I had in the past. Toning down my energy was my own version of a factory slowdown.”
One of her “real” nurses alerted her to the #FreeBritney movement
On various occasions, Britney was subjected to mental health evaluations and stints in rehab, with her father telling her that she’d look like an “idiot” and would “have to go to court” if she didn’t obey his demands. “They kept me locked up against my will for months,” she reveals. “I couldn’t go outside. I couldn’t drive a car. I had to give blood weekly. I couldn’t take a bath in private. I couldn’t shut the door to my room.” During a stay at a Beverly Hills facility, where she was prescribed lithium, one of her nurses – who she described as “real” – made her aware of the #FreeBritney movement. Describing it as “the most amazing thing I’d ever seen in my life,” Britney says it “meant a whole lot” and is a debt she can “never repay” to her fans. “If you stood up for me when I couldn’t stand up for myself: from the bottom of my heart, thank you.”
She doesn’t want to return to music or live shows (yet)
Following the dissolution of her conservatorship, Britney released her first song in six years: ‘Hold Me Closer’, a collaboration with Elton John and reworking of his 1971 classic ‘Tiny Dancer’. Upon release, it skyrocketed to the top spot on iTunes in a plethora of countries. While Britney is proud of its success, she admits that a full-blown return to music isn’t likely (for now). “Pushing forward in my music career is not my focus at the moment,” she says. “Right now it’s time for me to try to get my spiritual life in order, to pay attention to the little things, to slow down.” The same goes for live performances. “I keep getting asked when I’m going to put on shows again. I confess that I’m struggling with that question. I’m enjoying dancing and singing the way I used to when I was younger and not trying to do it for my family’s benefit, not trying to get something, but doing it for me and for my genuine love of it.”
Appreciation for the gays
As The Woman in Me comes to a close, Britney explores her connection with the LGBTQIA+ community, describing it as “unconditional love”. “My gay friends were always protective of me, maybe because they knew I was that kind of innocent,” she says. “Not dumb, but way too kind. And I think a lot of the gay guys around me took on a supportive role. I could even feel it onstage when they were beside me. If I thought I didn’t do my best performance, I could count on my friends to realise I didn’t feel great about it and still say, “You did so good!” That kind of love means everything to me.” Britney, an intellectual, then shares that her favourite nights out are at gay bars and reminisces on a night out in Europe where “everyone around me on the dance floor was so tall” and her “heart was so alive”.
The Woman in Me is out now.