1981 Was Magical
Britney Spears and I were both born in 1981. I vividly remember her on Mickey Mouse Club, I went to a taping in 1993 when she was in the cast, and I watched her rise to fame with the rest of the world. Britney is one of those celebrities that you are sure you would be friends with in real life; she is smart, she is funny, she is stylish, and she seems just like us. And that is just it; she IS just like us. She’s human, but for some reason so many people like to hold her to a higher standard than they hold themselves.
The Era of the Tabloids
I will be the first to admit that I was in the thick of the late 90’s-00’s celebrity gossip. I subscribed to US Weekly and People, was on Perez Hilton all day checking on the latest Hollywood news, and I wore my Kitson “Team Aniston” shirt with pride. We watched Britney become a mom for the first time and under the watchful eyes of TMZ and the paparazzi, we were privy to everything, from tripping while holding her baby, to driving away with him on her lap. Here’s the thing: if someone was watching me become a mom for the first time or even the second time, I am sure I would have made the front page, too. (Spoiler alert: my first rolled off the changing table, and I drove home with the second one not buckled in his carseat when he was 8 weeks old. They’re 16 and 13 now and totally fine.) Again, Britney and I are human and with that comes mistakes and learning. With full access to the happenings in their lives, we like to think we truly know what the real story is, but the truth is we are only hearing what the “insider” has to say. We see the pictures that the paparazzi captured and sold to the magazine to enhance the insider’s scoop. Britney’s conservatorship has been nothing less than that; the image of her father swooping in to “save” her during a mental health crisis and assisting her in reclaiming the thrown. But as we learned this week from Britney herself, this was all untrue.
What is Conservatorship?
In an NPR article published on June 24, 2021, it defines conservatorship as, “a court case where a judge appoints a responsible person or organization (called the “conservator”) to care for another adult (called the “conservatee”) who cannot care for himself or herself or manage his or her own finances.” Between the years 2005-2008, Britney was married, gave birth to two babies, and was also divorced and lost custody of her children … all while under a microscope, her every move photographed and sent out to the world to judge. In 2008 when this conservatorship was placed on Britney, she was undoubtedly in the midst of a very emotional time, she needed both medical help and the support of those that loved and cared about her, but that wasn’t what she was given. Britney was placed on an involuntary psychiatric hold for 5 days. Following her release from the hospital, Britney was right back to work; appearing on television shows, performing, winning multiple MTV Video Awards, and making albums. She did all this while being a conservatee, who – by definition – allegedly cannot care for herself or manage her own finances.
On June 23rd there was a court hearing in regards to the conservatorship, and Britney spoke freely and openly to the judge. It was nothing short of heartbreaking; listening to her statements made me angry and sad for her. She is a grown woman, a woman who has been successful beyond belief, she has fans and supporters from every walk of life, she is loved and she deserves to be in control of her own life. In 2019 a podcast, Britney’s Gram, released a voicemail from a source who claimed to be a former member of her legal team and stated Jamie Spears had canceled Britney’s Vegas residency due to her refusing medication and also violating a no driving rule, which ultimately ended with another involuntary psychiatric inpatient stay and ignited the Free Britney Movement. Her fans aren’t the only ones shouting their support for Britney; her fellow celebrities are standing behind her. There are memes, t-shirts, and protests all in agreement to #FreeBritney, lift the conservatorship and allow her to regain control and live a normal life.
Her father and fellow conservators, the medical providers and the staff who have participated in the conservatorship and for lack of a better word, imprisonment, of Britney should be held responsible. In court she verbalized the fears she has developed, the abuse she has endured, and the isolation experiences. She talked of being locked in rooms, having no privacy when undressing, being given lithium, having her children used as pawns to ensure she followed the guidelines she was under, even being restricted from removing her IUD or remarrying. In her court statements she said, “It’s embarrassing and demoralizing what I’ve been through. And that’s the main reason I didn’t wanna say it openly” … “After I’ve told the whole world I’m okay, it’s a lie. I’m not happy and I can’t sleep. I’m depressed. I cry everyday… It’s my wish and my dream for all of this to end. I want my life back.” You can read the full transcript here.
Unfortunately, it won’t be as easy as the judge saying the conservatorship is over. In most conservatorships, they are in place because the person does not, cannot and will not get better. Britney is a very complicated case as far as the idea of a conservatorship goes. She will no doubt be faced with more court hearings, medical evaluations and be required to have witness testimonies in order to prove that it is no longer necessary for her to be under the conservatorship. If we know anything from the past, it is that Jamie Spears will fight tooth and nail to remain in control of her life.
Stronger Than Yesterday
As much as hearing Britney recount the abuse she has endured over the past 13 years was hard, it was also so good to hear her speak out, to let the world know in her own words what has been happening to her. I have been a Britney fan since the beginning, I am pretty sure we’d be besties if we knew each other in real life. I have hope that she remains strong and continues to fight so she is able to live a normal and free life. Britney has given us so much joy through her music, her music has transcended decades, and if one person can come through all of this, it’s Britney, bitch!