Britney Spears’ trajectory in the entertainment industry can definitely be labeled as a rollercoaster. Starting off as one of America’s favorite child stars— by notably performing alongside the likes of Christina Aguilera, Justine Timberlake, and Ryan Gosling in the Mickey Mouse Club— the Mississippi-born singer was quickly catapulted to international stardom in a matter of years. From the late ‘90s all the way up to the mid-aughts, the hitmaker was singlehandedly responsible for redefining what it means to be a popstar today.
However, that rapid rise to fame quickly turned into a nightmare. From being objectified to having to constantly deal with never-before-seen levels of media exposure, Spears’ career was direly affected by the damaging effects of fame on her mental health. Finding it difficult to handle many of the unsolicited aspects of being a global star, the world first-handedly witnessed the downfall of America’s most beloved pop icon.
More often than not, the “Princess of Pop” was associated with a myriad of controversies, scandals, and tabloid fodder about her private life, subsequently deteriorating the public’s perception of her. As her life became an open-air spectacle for tabloids to pry on, and as her personal struggles kept on being sensationalized and exacerbated in headlines, the multi-Grammy award-winner’s image had irreversibly been damaged.
Many would pinpoint the star’s all-time low to when she publicly shaved her head in 2007 amid a custody battle with her former husband Kevin Federline, just days before she attacked a paparazzi with an umbrella. Things eventually went from bad to worse as she was involuntarily placed under a decade-long conservatorship that legally stripped her away from her most basic rights.
However, the tide slowly began turning as she gained worldwide popular support. As fan suspicion grew and investigative journalists increasingly began exposing the Toxic singer’s legal situation, the #FreeBritney movement was born. The global campaign, which sought to give the icon her voice back and highlight her desire to regain autonomy over her life and finances, attracted international media attention in 2020, culminating in her finally breaking free from the coerced conservatorship in 2021.
Since then, Spears began leading her life the way she saw best, away from media spotlight, though every now and then, details of her nightmare conservatorship would resurface in headlines. Forever scarred by this abusive period of her life she recalls as the most “demoralizing” she had ever been through, the 41-year-old singer and songwriter recently compiled all of her unknown stories, those that led her to where she is today, in an explosive memoir titled The Woman In Me. Already a best-seller, the tell-all book’s content is a chock full of revelations about her highly-publicized relationship with Justin Timberlake.
For reference, the former love birds dated between 1999 and 2002, having first met at the Mickey Mouse Club when they were kids. As one of the most highly-publicized relationships of the time, their breakup is still remembered as one of the most mediatized events of the early 2000s.
Back then, Timberlake had made it explicitly clear that the root cause behind the split was a result of his other half’s alleged infidelity. Going as far as dedicating an entire song about Spears’ supposed disloyalty, Cry Me a River aimed at shaming his girlfriend in front of millions. What’s more, the song’s accompanying video clip featured a Britney lookalike, which painted a different story to what had actually happened while framing Spears as a “harlot who’d broken the heart of America’s golden boy,” she wrote in her new memoir.
In her memoir, Spears revealed that during her and Timberlake’s romance, the pair allegedly agreed to get an abortion following news of her pregnancy with his baby. Across several pages, Spears wrote: “It was a surprise, but for me, it wasn’t a tragedy. I loved Justin so much. I always expected us to have a family together one day. This would just be much earlier than I’d anticipated. But Justin definitely wasn’t happy about the pregnancy. He said we weren’t ready to have a baby in our lives, that we were way too young.”Given their superstar status at the time, she also disclosed having to undergo an in-house operation in order to keep the news a secret and avoid a potential media storm. “It was important that no one find out about the pregnancy or the abortion, which meant doing everything at home. (…) I kept crying and sobbing until it was all over,” she explained.
Although Timberlake made it to seem as if Spears was entirely to blame for their split, the singer-turned-author revealed that she was well aware of his infidelity, but decided to turn a blind eye…“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 wrote. “When NSYNC went to London in 2000, photographers caught him with one of the girls from All Saints in a car. But I never said anything. At the time we’d only been together for a year,” she added.
According to the claims in her memoir, Timberlake tried “too hard to fit in” with Black artists at the time of their relationship.
“[NSYNC] were white boys but they loved Hip-Hop. To me, that’s what separated them from the Backstreet Boys, who seemed very consciously to position themselves as a white group. NSYNC hung out with Black artists. Sometimes I thought they tried too hard to fit in. One day J [Justin] and I were in New York going to parts of town I had never been to before. Walking our way was a guy with a huge, blinged-out medallion. He was flanked by two giant security guards. J got all excited and said, so loud, ‘Oh yeah, fo’ shiz, fo’ shiz! Ginuwine, what’s up homie?”
He’s the one who pulled the plug on the relationship
Contrary to popular belief, Spears did not break up with her then-boyfriend of three years. As it turns out, it happened the other way around via text, in two words that read “It’s over.” The singer admitted being “devastated” and even considered leaving the music industry as a whole as she “was comatose in Louisiana, and he was happily running around Hollywood,” she detailed.