July 25th, 2024

Britney Spears’ book ‘The Woman In Me’ makes private details public, and public events personal

By Maria Sherman And Andrew Dalton, The Associated Press on October 19, 2023.

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Britney Spears’ highly anticipated memoir “The Woman in Me” will be released Tuesday, revealing the pop superstar’s personal take on events that have played out publicly in her decades as one of the most scrutinized figures in American life, along with private moments that she previously kept under wraps.

The book, which The Associated Press obtained a copy of Thursday, details her childhood and rise to stardom, along with her marriages, her nearly-14-year court conservatorship and even a brief mention of a July incident where she was hit in the face by security for NBA player Victor Wembanyama.

Much of “The Woman in Me” focuses on the father and sons, the husbands and boyfriends, who have dominated her life, for better and for worse. Several chapters are devoted to her relationship with Justin Timberlake, including deeply personal details about a pregnancy, abortion and painful breakup. In others she chronicles her custody fight with ex-husband Kevin Federline, and how it fueled what was viewed as a public meltdown.

Spears speaks much less of recent events, making no mention of her pending divorce from Sam Asghari, whom she describes as holding her hand while she addressed a judge during a key hearing that freed her from court control in 2021.

In the opening dedication, she writes simply, “For my boys, who are the loves of my life.”

Here are some of the details revealed in “The Woman in Me”:

THE TIMBERLAKE YEARS

For a period at the turn of the millennium, Spears and Timberlake were America’s it couple. As Spears writes, they were in love – but purity was a facade. “There were a couple of times during our relationship when I knew Justin had cheated on me. Especially because I was so infatuated and so in love, I let it go, even though the tabloids seemed determined to rub my face in it,” she writes.

Although Spears was painted in the press as the unfaithful one, she says she only stepped out on the relationship once, to kiss choreographer Wade Robson, confirming a long-speculated rumor.

She also writes of her pregnancy and Timberlake’s dismay, first reported in excerpts published by People earlier this week.

“I’m sure people will hate me for this, but I agreed not to have the baby. Abortion was something I never could have imagined choosing for myself, but given the circumstances, that is what we did,” she writes.

They decided she would not go to a doctor or hospital: “It was important that no one find out about the pregnancy or the abortion, which meant doing everything at home,” she writes, adding that they didn’t tell her family.

She describes the physical pain of the medication abortion as “excruciating.”

“I kept crying and sobbing until it was all over,” she writes. “It took hours, and I don’t remember how it ended, but I do, twenty years later, remember the pain of it, and the fear.”

MAGICAL MUSICAL MOMENTS

The song that launched Spears’ solo career, “”¦Baby One More Time” was directly inspired by Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love.” Spears was listening to it the night before she was going in to record with famed Swedish producer Max Martin (who Spears describes simply as “magic.”) She wanted to mimic the English synthpop duo’s sound, so she stayed up late, giving her voice the fried, raspy tone that would become iconic.

The concept for the music video, too, was her idea. Jive Records wanted her to “play a futuristic astronaut,” she writes. “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.”

HEARTBREAK

She says Timberlake broke up with her via text message while making his 2002 solo debut album, “Justified.”

“He started being very standoffish with me. I think that was because he’d decided to use me as ammunition for his record, and so it made it awkward for him to be around me starting at him with all that affection and devotion,” she writes.

In the period following the breakup, Spears became isolated, writing that she experienced “˜serious social anxiety.

She found herself living in an apartment alone in New York for a few months, rarely leaving. (One of her few visitors? Madonna, who dreamt up their 2003 kiss at the MTV Video Music Awards as a reclamation of personal autonomy.)

Not long after, Spears felt pressured by her father to do what would become an infamous interview with Diane Sawyer, in which the host pushed her to explain what she did to Justin Timberlake to cause him “so much pain.”

“I felt like I had been exploited,” she writes, “set up in front of the whole world.”

Representatives for Timberlake did not respond to messages seeking comment.

MOTHERHOOD AND MENTAL HEALTH STRUGGLES

In 2004, Spears married dancer Kevin Federline and they had two sons together. After the children were born, she says she suffered from perinatal depression, displaying symptoms of sadness, anxiety and fatigue.

“Being a new mom is challenge enough without trying to do everything under a microscope,” she writes. “With Kevin away so much, no one was around to see me spiral – except every paparazzo in America.”

The couple divorced in 2007.

A CUSTODY STANDOFF

Spears describes what she calls a “SWAT team” bursting into a bathroom where she was holding 16-month-old son Jayden, instead of returning him to Federline as required. The moment in January 2008 led to her being hospitalized on a 72-hour psychiatric hold and was a major factor in the establishment of a court conservatorship that took over her life.

She said that amid a custody battle, she felt that Federline and his lawyers were keeping her kids from her for longer and longer stretches. She had already put 2-year-old Sean Preston in the car of a security guard who had come to get him when she became “terrified that I wouldn’t get the kids again if I gave them back.”

That’s when she fled to the bathroom.

“I just couldn’t let him go. I didn’t want anyone taking my baby,” she writes. “Before I knew what was happening, a SWAT team in black suits burst through the bathroom door as if I’d hurt someone.”

An attorney for Federline did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

THE SHAVED HEAD

Other moments in her slide toward the conservatorship became were anything but private, and Spears gives her take with a degree of emotion previously kept in check by those surrounding her.

She says she shaved her own head at a Los Angeles salon as an act of rebellion against the media, the paparazzi, and her family, who expected her to behave like a pretty and proper pop star even though she was “out of my mind with grief” over the custody battle.

“Shaving my head was a way of saying to the world: F – – you,” she writes.”

A few days later at a gas station, she attacked the car of a photographer with an umbrella.

She writes the man would not stop taunting her and asking her “terrible” questions, including how it felt not seeing her kids, as he smirked, at “one of the worst moments in my whole life.” She says he was clearly trying to provoke a reaction, and to her regret she gave him one.

“You can’t even do any damage with an umbrella,” she says. “It was a desperate move by a desperate person.”

HER FATHER TAKES CONTROL

When the court established the conservatorship in February of 2008, Spears said her father, with the power of law behind him, established absolute control over her life decisions and finances, at one point even telling her, “I’m Britney Spears now.”

Spears says he forced her to break up with the photographer he had been dating, and subjected anyone else she wanted to date to extensive background checks. She said he persistently told her she looked fat, and put the staff that surrounded her on strict instructions not to allow her any unapproved food.

But she said she felt that from the start the arrangement existed so that he could pay himself handsomely, while her allowance left her hardly able to buy dinner for her dancers.

“He’s always been all about the money,” she writes.

An attorney for Spears’s father declined comment. But James Spears has said in multiple court filings that he only ever acted in her best interest.

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