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Pop princess to prisoner: Britney Spears bares her soul in ‘A Woman Like Me’

By Jake Beardslee · October 24, 2023

In brief…

  • Britney Spears provides shocking details of life under conservatorship in memoir
  • Felt constant public scrutiny of body left no freedom since childhood fame
  • Forcibly drugged and hospitalized, stripped of all normalcy
  • Suicidal from postpartum depression amid paparazzi harassment
In her new memoir 'A Woman Like Me,' pop star Britney Spears gives a disturbing account of her traumatic life under conservatorship, from loss of privacy and motherhood struggles to being forcibly institutionalized.  rhysadams/Wikimedia

In her new memoir ‘A Woman Like Me,’ pop icon Britney Spears provides shocking details about her life under the restrictive conservatorship controlled by her father and recounts harrowing experiences from childhood through her rise to fame.

Spears writes that she she had little freedom as her alcoholic father often fought with her mother during her childhood, leading her to find solace outdoors. By age 16, she was public property and could no longer go outside without being mobbed. She writes, “the shame I felt killed my heart. I stood there, reeling, and thought, OK, I guess it’s forbidden for me to party.”

The memoir reveals Spears felt her body was fair game for scrutiny from the start, with constant fixation on her changing physique and “purity.” She writes, “I’d smiled politely while TV show hosts leered at my breasts, while American parents said I was destroying their children by wearing a crop top.”

After becoming pregnant, Spears hoped motherhood would shield her, but faced aggressive paparazzi instead, leaving her suicidal from postpartum depression. Under the conservatorship, every aspect of normal life “had been stripped from me,” she writes. “I had no freedom and yet also no security.”

Spears recounts being forcibly hospitalized and drugged. She writes of being treated “like a criminal or predator,” asking, “Was I a bank robber? A wild animal? Why was I treated as though I were about to burn the place down and murder them all?”

After 13 years under conservatorship, Spears writes “it doesn’t make me feel strong; it makes me sad,” and adds heartbreakingly, “I shouldn’t be this strong.”