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Reader's Digest: Woman in Me - Britney Spears

Honest review of a woman held captive...

By Paulina PachelPublished 3 months ago 12 min read
3
cover photo from Gallery Books

“One day I’ll have a good book, a good, mysterious book” -Britney Spears

It’s almost as if the queen of pop herself has prophesied it.

The world froze in June of 2021 when the legendary Ms. Britney Jean Spears gave her testimony to the judge on what really goes down behind the velvet curtains of the ironclad conservatorship. It has been 13 years of hell abiding by the rules of people who didn’t view the mastermind behind so many great hits, fashion moments and most importantly dance moves as a person. They viewed her as a cash cow. They viewed her as a SAP pay out. They reduced her to less than subhuman and justified their wrongs through their pretentious acts of saving grace…when in fact what they were really doing was filling up their pockets and getting off on the power that comes with such astounding talent as Britney.

Many pop music fans always echo that they don’t make pop stars like Britney anymore and they’d be right. Back in the 90s, influence was derived by surroundings, upbringing, morals, values, pure and conscious creativity of the mind. In today’s world, marketing is fueled by trends, fads, clicks, likes…superficial shit that in hindsight just looks tragic.

One minute you’re dancing to a 30 second sound bite that has its moment in the sun for maybe four weeks and then it’s off to the next one. Who out here is still singing the remix of “Carole Baskin” from 2020? Anyone?

Exactly.

Yet hits like “Toxic” “Oops I Did It Again” and my all time favorite banger “Work, Bitch” are still trending as if they’d hit the charts a few hours ago. They’re timeless and we can’t get enough.

Britney, like any other prolific public figure, has had a team to launch her into stardom, but in my opinion she doesn’t get the flowers or the credit that she so rightfully deserves for being in tune with what not only her fans, but her generation might be into…and this was before you could tweet out a poll or put out a reel or go live to ask fans what they wanted. She just understood and then was punished for it.

Britney Spears’ memoir “The Woman In Me” was a long time coming. We all were dying to hear the truth, but in picking up my copy and digesting the full story in two days time, I was not prepared for how inhumane her life turned out to be. The title of the memoir sparked an association with Halsey’s song “Devil in Me” where Halsey sings “I don’t want to wake up, now I gotta wake it up…the devil in me” and I think if this book had a soundtrack, that would be the first record to play. So many people in Britney’s life at the time, including her family, had made her out to be the villain and someone to fear, mock, and disrespect. Meanwhile, she is the person to catapult her family out of poverty and all the miserable things that come along with it.

Once again, the girl does not get her flowers.

There were a lot of moving parts to the story. Britney unraveled her work ethic from her beginnings on the Mickey Mouse Club to her solo career, the creative behind-the-scenes thought process and attention to detail of music videos, the dance numbers that served as add ons to an open interpretation, the risks which had all produced scrutiny and sensational backlash.

Unlike everything mainstream that has already been discussed by content creators far and wide, I won’t state the obvious as the things mentioned had been collectively shocking. Instead, I’d like to focus on certain aspects of the book that made me relate, made me smile, and essentially made sense of who Britney is as a person as a result of her circumstances.

The British accent

If you had followed Britney’s career from the Britney Jean era and onward, you’d notice a tinge of an accent, almost like a British alter ego manifesting from the stage to the mic, and in Britney’s memoir, we find out that speaking in a British accent is comforting to her because it reminds her of her grandmother. Her grandmother met her husband, an American soldier, in London and her husband brought her back to the States where she remained, built a family and a life, but missed London with a heavy heart. When I first found out that Britney has English roots and a sentimental sweet spot for the mannerisms, the poise and the chic elegance of her grandmother, it brought everything full circle. Britney isn’t shy with her British pronunciations in her infamous hits such as “Scream and Shout” and she also isn’t shy with it on verses in “Work, Bitch” which has made me wonder…could the accent be an extension of an artistic alter ego? After all, Nicki has Roman. We’ve yet to meet the moniker behind that particular persona.

We hear her use this accent in many of her Instagram posts and reels. It always confused me because a lot of the times when singers and artists coin their own signature quirks, the reason behind it is usually correlated to something related to their personality, previous projects, a gimmick or something that they’re known for; i.e. Roman being the gay, aggressive, over the top British diva because it compliments Nicki’s flamboyant, over the top and assertive characteristic. So, the accent felt random, but now knowing the root of it is actually really wholesome.

Family gal

Given the reputation that the paparazzi and the tabloids have perpetuated, Britney is actually a family woman and it stems from her early memories as a child, having lived in what was considered to be the “cool house” in Kentwood, where everyone always hung out. She recalls performing and wanting to be the center of attention. She recalls having a very close knit relationship with her brother Bryan and then later feeling very protective of her younger sister, Jamie Lynn. Then, later becoming a mom to her boys, Sean Preston and Jayden James Federline, and overall dedicating the book to her sons, she recalls the number of times where her maternal instincts and maternal desire to spend more time with her children were essentially stripped away from her, under the guise of perpetuated danger and harm…

Britney coo’s over her kids' artistic abilities and was inspired to include a piece of her children by letting them name the record and hence the "Glory" album was born.

Knowing that bit of information makes listening to that record really special.

She Practices What She Preaches

Britney’s lyrics are reverberating through my airpods as I struggle with completing my last bid of cardio and I hear her ask me if I “want a hot body, drink martinis and look hawt in a bikini” [yes, Ms. Britney Jean, I want all of that and a slice of cake]. “You better work, bitch”

Britney herself is a hard worker at heart. I really enjoyed reliving the early 2000s through her eyes and how she was so inspired to be involved with every aspect of her creative visions, music videos, but I think the quintessential part of her work had been the time where she was one with the studio. Once she entered the recording booth, it was just her and her soul expressing herself to her heart’s content.

photo credit to ENews

Throughout all of her musical projects, she is mostly proud of her 2007 record “Blackout” and who wouldn’t dare to agree? It gave us so many bops to dance to. What once used to get your feet moving on the hardwood floors of your teenage bedroom is now the song that obliterates your speakers while you make out with your man in the car. By and large, Britney puts in the work from the outfits she deems are going to resonate with her demographic to the choreography to the lyrics. “Hot As Ice” which was originally released as an animated music video was one of Britney’s favorite songs to perform for the crowd and all these years later, I still see people in the comments on YouTube saying how this hit could have been bigger had Britney went along with her concept for the video. It’s a treasure amongst the original fans and she knew it.

It’s a shame that the public had placed such an emphasis on her “provocative image” as opposed to her skillset, her delivery, and her stage presence. How many people today can replicate what she has done? Let’s face it, I’ve seen both Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift (twice) and while these amazing showstoppers are exceptional performers in their own right, their way has been paved by Britney because she was the one to boost the viewership at the VMAs, bring in that “shock” factor that is nonexistent these days, and performed with a live python live on air…spilling the tea on how the snake made her nervous and made eye contact with her as she tried to get through the verse, full poker face on.

Chapeau, Ms. Britney Jean. I don’t care what Star Magazine says, I’m more of a Reader’s Digest/New Yorker girl and you inspired me to get a belly ring and get my ass to the gym…one day at a time though.

Soul of an artist

Britney, despite her immense star power and fame, is very fragile in terms of her emotions. This isn’t a flaw by any stretch of the imagination, it’s actually a trait of an artistic soul. In reading her memoir and reading between the lines of her resent towards the way that her family had dismissed her, i.e. by hanging up the phone on her, never calling back, gaslighting her to make her think she was “off the wall” bonkers when in actuality she was fully aware and present, I sensed that she has a very pure heart and a forgiving nature. The way with which she spoke of her mom, the endearing bond that she herself had built with her mom, and how she modeled her elegance and grace through the women that surrounded her, including her grandmother and aunts.

Jamie Lynn on the other hand wasn’t as respectful and obedient as Britney had been; perhaps riding on the coat tails of her sister’s fame and her own kid’s show got to her head to behave like a diva, ask their mother for chocolate shakes and things galore, which astounded Britney. Britney remembers that when she started to officially earn money professionally, it was to be able to buy a home for her family and ensure that Jamie Lynn has a far better upbringing.

In return, Britney was met with criticism and a condescending attitude from Jamie Lynn who kept walking around saying, “Why did SHE have to get us this house?”

Despite Britney’s internal fragility and her ability to mask her hurt, she had poise and didn’t swing back…

She’s also very fragile with men; falls in love fast and hard which is also a very apparent symptom of having an artistic soul. It just made me cry how such a beautiful and strong woman was treated so poorly by all of her suitors. Justin really is the tip of the iceberg in her relationship roster, but the way with which she loved and adored him as well as many others that came after and not having that same level of reciprocity killed me.

I mean, yeah, we can envy the money, the fame and the power, but Britney doesn’t care for those things. Money may have been the motivation in the beginning to escape the turbulent predicament of poverty in Louisiana, but money will never be able to buy the things that we all secretly want: to love and be loved.

Britney is loved by many all over the world, admired for her craft and looked up to by women and men alike…but my wish for her is to find the love that she deserves, the love that she has for others, the compassion she carries on her shoulders…and to live her life absolutely unapologetically.

Social Media

Britney had addressed social media and her introduction to it. She knows that people think she’s weird and unhinged, she has read the comments, and she has seen the feedback. However, what young tweens nowadays may not understand is that Britney has already been scrutinized long before the days of Facebook or Instagram. What’s another couple hundred comments? In a very innocent and heartfelt way, she’s expressed that she likes to dress up and document her outfits, her poses, her dances…she likes that form of self expression and as devotees, we should honor that.

You and I are both on the Internet and I’m sure that at one point or another, we have had our fair share of hits and misses; whether it be a post or a status or a Vine (rip), none of us have had a stellar track record. Facebook memories will not let us forget, so who are we to scrutinize an icon? A blip in the ethernet cord…a speck of dust actually…we’re not one to talk.

Final Thoughts

The conservatorship had lasted 13 long egregious years and the only thing that got Britney through was the love and fight she had inside of her that one day, she’ll get her kids back and that she’ll still have time to build the kind of life that she wants on her own terms. That lioness fight to protect her cubs has prevailed because Britney is now a free woman.

If she wants to run around the beaches of Waikiki with her gorgeous banging body in the nude, SHE SHOULD. If she wants to throw on a pretty dress and twirl around her marble living room floor, SHE SHOULD. If she wants to be quirky and sexy in a bikini reading a book or running after her dog Sawyer, SHE SHOULD.

What people fail to understand is that when your body autonomy is taken away from you, such as it was in the case of Britney when she was told what to eat, how to dress, how to toss her hair and etc, as human beings we will divert back to our primal nature and want to reclaim our right to our own bodies. It’s synonymous to victims of rape who may want to be promiscuous or a little sexier and edgier after the assault because despite the accusation of “asking for it” or dressing inappropriately, that’s on their terms. That’s their right to reclaim their power.

Britney was under control for 13 years…I say let the tits fly free and scream into the abyss of the lilac skies…I CHOSE THE RIGHT TO BE…FREE…BECAUSE THAT IS THE WOMAN IN ME.

Review
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About the Creator

Paulina Pachel

I am an intricate mix of flavors and you'll get a taste of them through my writing pieces; versatility and vulnerability go together like a fresh-baked croissant+coffee.

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Comments (2)

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  • Naveed 24 days ago

    Excellent review!

  • Davina Z. McKee3 months ago

    I love this feisty review! I have yet to read the book, but definitely want to. Britney’s reign as Princess of Pop may never be topped by anyone.

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