Britney Spears tells her side of the story in autobiography 2
Britney waves to the media who have pursued her throughout her adult life. Image: Mario Anzuoni/REUTERS
Culture

Britney Spears tells her side of the story in autobiography

In the book, "The Woman in Me," Spears reveals how she was due to have a baby with Justin Timberlake, but had an "excruciating" abortion.
Silke W√ľnsch | Oct 27 2023

In 1999, a phenomenon swept the pop world. A blonde girl in a breezy school uniform danced through the corridor of a high school with an innocent face and infected legions of teenagers with the words "Hit Me Baby One More Time."

Britney Spears was 16 years old at the time of recording; 17 by the time it reached No.1 in at least 23 countries.

 

Iron discipline

Born in 1981, she was already taking dance lessons at the age of three. Children's talent shows, singing lessons and auditions, soon followed, all under the watchful eyes and the wing of her mother.

At the age of 11, she secured a role in the teen series "Mickey Mouse Club" and played alongside Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and Ryan Gosling, until 1994.

Happier times: Britney with then boyfriend Justin Timberlake in 2002
Happier times: Britney with then boyfriend Justin Timberlake in 2002. Image: Chris Gardner/AP Photo/picture alliance

After the series ended, the arduous search for a record deal went up a gear. After several rejections, Spears finally found someone who believed enough in her to send her into the studio with a large team of producers. "Baby One More Time" was released in 1999 and shot to No.1 in the US Billboard charts as well as in Germany, Australia, Canada and Mexico.

Spears continued to work and soon it was clear that she wasn't someone who simply rested on her laurels. She continued to hone her skills.

 

Private life

Her tumultuous private life also gathered pace along with her soaring singing career. After separating with long-term boyfriend Justin Timberlake, she married a school friend, but the marriage was annulled after two days.

She then went into a relationship with the performer Kevin Federline, bringing an abrupt halt to her musical career. Three months after they began dating in 2004, the pair were married and had two children. In 2007, they separated and Spears returned to music.

But Spears' divorce became the center of attention for the media world, as the pair traded blows in a bitter fight for the custody of their children. Eventually, Federline was awarded sole custody. The negative headlines continued as the paparazzi enjoyed a feeding frenzy. 

Spears' story, documented word for word in the newspapers that pursued her, took another turn for the worse. In January 2008, she was strapped to a gurney, after a three-hour standoff involving her two toddler sons, her ex-husband Kevin Federline, a court-appointed child monitor, police officers, paramedics and a locked bathroom door.

She was rolled out of her home in the hills near Mulholland Drive as photographers swarmed and helicopters hovered, and was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center "for her own welfare," as a police spokeswoman put it at the time.

The music career and private life continued side-by-side. Her raunchy performances and an umbrella attack against a photographer caught the headlines. All of this took place as Spears indulged in a cocktail of alcohol and drugs, leading to hospitalization and on February 1, 2008, incapacitation. Her father Jamie  Spears became her guardian, managing her assets.

Britney reveals all in her new book
Britney reveals all in her new book. Image: Penguin Random House

"The Woman in Me" describes Britney Spears' life from her own point of view. She portrays herself as someone who continued to work on her career, celebrated successes, changed her image, produced albums and won awards.

Nevertheless, she remained under the control of her father. She finally freed herself from this control at the end of 2021 in a sensational court case.

In her book, Spears not only writes about her father and other people who treated her unfairly, she also writes about herself. She reveals that she was expecting a child with Justin Timberlake. However, Timberlake was not ready for a child and Britney had had an abortion. "To this day, it is one of the most painful experiences I have ever had in my life," she writes.

 

Toxic family relationship

In the book, she talks about her childhood, when she was "never good enough," and about her difficult relationship with her family. She also discusses the foreign control over her person and her body, which culminated in the 13-year guardianship of her father.

She also devotes many pages to her "crash." She says she shaved all her hair off in 2007 as a desperate cry for help. "Since I was a teenager, I was looked at from top to bottom, and people told me what they thought of my body. Shaving my head and acting like that was my way of fighting back," the singer writes in her memoir.

Spears' book, "The Woman in Me" was released simultaneously in 17 countries on October 24, 2023.

This article was originally written in German.