LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Britney Spears, the dewy-eyed child star who became a global pop phenomenon and then melted down in full view of the world, tells her story Tuesday with the release of her already bestselling memoir.
“The Woman In Me” is the pop princess in her own, unvarnished words, shot through with the anguish of a family she believes has failed her at every step of the way, in an industry that mercilessly devours its talent.
From sharing daiquiris with her mother as a young teenager — two years after she became a regular on “The Mickey Mouse Club” — to the 13 years she spent as an adult in a conservatorship, the memoir details how she struggled to escape the influence of her controlling father.
Until two years ago, when she got out from under the conservatorship legal relationship that she says dictated everything from her birth control choices to the set list at lucrative Las Vegas gigs.
In the intervening months, Spears has married a former dancer, announced then lost a pregnancy, and is now on the road to her third divorce.
The book, whose pre-orders catapulted it to the top of the Amazon best-seller list, was produced too early to include that coda with husband Sam Asghari.
But readers will still have plenty to chew on.
In reality, he was “happily running around Hollywood” while she was “comatose in Louisiana.”
Readers have also learned of a brief but intense affair with Irish actor and Oscar nominee Colin Farrell, what she calls “a two-week brawl.”
“Brawl is the only word for it — we were all over each other, grappling so passionately it was like we were in a street fight.”
The noughties brought fame and notoriety to Spears in equal measure, with a passionate fan base eager for every last scrap of news about her.
That collided with an aggressive paparazzi culture that delighted in capturing her partying alongside hell-raisers like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.
Spears insists there were never hard drugs and that she did not have a drinking problem, but admits that she was taking Adderall, the ADHD medication.
A publicly played out bust-up with second husband Kevin Federline, and an ensuing custody fight over their two children presaged the emotional low watermark: shaving her head and attacking a photographer’s car.
“Flailing those weeks without my children, I lost it, over and over again,” she writes. “I didn’t even really know how to take care of myself.
“I’d begin to think in some ways like a child.”
A year later, courts appointed her father Jamie Spears to control her money and her personal life.
Over the next 13 years, she was told who she could see, and how much she could spend, and even ordered not to have more children.
Yet under Jamie Spears, she would still perform as a pop icon.
“Too sick to choose my own boyfriend and yet somehow healthy enough to appear on sitcoms and morning shows, and to perform for thousands of people in a different part of the world every week.”
“From that point on, I began to think that (my father) saw me as put on the earth for no other reason than to help their cash flow.”
Jamie Spears has always insisted that he had the best interests of his daughter at heart and was seeking to protect her from exploitation.
The conservatorship was dissolved in 2021, but — aside from collaborations with Elton John and will.i.am — it has not heralded a return to creativity for Spears.
“Pushing forward in my music career is not my focus at the moment,” the now-41-year-old Britney writes.
“It’s time for me not to be someone who other people want; it’s time to actually find myself.”