The Woman in Me- Britney Spears

“IT might hurt a little bit, but you’ll be fine.” A young and famous American female pop singer was assured before she was about to abort a pregnancy.

Finding herself alone – except for the presence of a boyfriend and a close homegirl stationed in an adjoining room – writhing with excruciating cramps on the floor of a bathroom having taken the requisite pills, she had to endure the painful ordeal for hours sans anaesthesia. At some point throughout the agonizing procedure whilst she lay sobbing, screaming and wondering whether she was going to die – the boyfriend, also a popular pop singer in his own right, entered the bathroom and lay on the floor besides her and proceeded to strum on a guitar, reasoning that the music might ease the experience!

Everything was wrong about the moment: the acceding to an abortion; the hush-hush circumstance under which the procedure was undertaken (only the afore-mentioned three individuals knew about it) and the risk of not having it performed by a doctor – or an experienced equivalent – and in an environment (i.e. hospital) conducive for such an exercise!

With the proverbial benefit of hindsight some twenty years ensuing, the songstress, Britney Spears, admits that much in this no-holds-barred and hard-hitting memoir as she spilt the beans on how erstwhile fellow Mouseketeer (a performer on the Walt Disney-created American variety TV show, who entertains with song and dance numbers), Justin Timberlake, co-opted her into aborting their baby!

At the time, the then lovebirds and would-be parents were both teenagers aged 19! Not long thereafter, Timberlake terminated their relationship via a text message and whilst nursing the hurt from the breakup, he, paradoxically, personally brought her a framed letter containing, at its conclusion, the sentence: “I can’t breathe without you.” Alas, the words were of scant consolation since the affair was never to be resuscitated!

With the trade paperback recently released whilst Spears is in her early 40s (at the time of this review), her account retrospect upon episodes of infidelity she claims the Cry Me A River hitmaker subjected her to pending the period the megastar pair were an item – humiliation she put up with for the longest time until the parting of ways.

The Southerner from the town of Kentwood, Louisiana (with a population of less than 2200 at the 2020 census) – where everyone knew everyone, doors were left unlocked and folks were referred to as, “sir” and “ma’am” – emerged into universal orbit as a carefree 16-year-old with the launch of her single song, . . . Baby One More Time, on October 23, 1998 and the debut album of the same title on January 12, 1999.

The album immediately sold over 10 million copies – with her debuting at number One, on the Billboard 200 chart in the US and becoming the first woman to debut with a number one single and album simultaneously!

The teen – she had signed a recording deal with Jive Records at age 15 – who whilst still an unknown would stare at a crowd and think, “you don’t know who I am yet,” was suddenly being thrust into the glare of bigtime showbiz with a global quotient! With her world revolving fast, she was soonly destined to wear the diadem of “Princess of Pop” owing to her dominance of the teen pop music scene – in addition to a future which would entail her selling over 150 million records worldwide and garnering multiple accolades and awards numbering 15 Guinness World Records, a Grammy, 7 Billboard Music Awards, 6 MTV Video Music Awards, the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, et cetera.

The Mouseketeer who along with Christina Aguilera and Timberlake was part of the early 90s edition of The Mickey Mouse Club, had rapidly now realized fame and fortune whilst still in her teens and for a while it appeared planet Earth was her oyster – until one unknown Kevin Federline beamed up into her orbit!

For with his entrance into her life, it appeared that notwithstanding all the rewards the ‘work queen bee’ had been able to realize at that point in her still young life – her hankering for love and having her own family would prove to be one too light years away a galaxy!

Having met at a Hollywood club – with Federline not the type of suitor the news media reasoned befitted a woman of her profile – nuptials then followed on October 6, 2004 after three months of dating and just under three years down the line their union ended up in divorce in 2007!

The arrival of their sons in the pair’s lives appeared to trigger grounds for estrangement between the two as Federline proceeded to claim custody of the boys – with the unsavoury development leading to a chain of events which resulted in Spears’ emotional breakdown!

It would literally precipitate a rollercoaster-esque spiral into a protracted period of being subjected to ‘purgatory’ for the singer: a custody hearing determined that she’d only be allowed to access her kids less; she descended into a state she described herself as being ‘hell on wheels’ whilst ingesting copious amounts of the drug Adderall; she was placed under a conservatorship (which she was rendered to endure for 13 years) both for her fortune and personal affairs after Californian courts were persuaded that she was incapable of managing her life!

To rub salt into the wound, the role of conservator of her estate was assumed by none other than her dad, who she didn’t get along with!

The ordeal of the conservatorship in particular caused a rift between the hitmaker and her parents.

Much more is contained in the 277-pager, inter alia, her 2001 Madison Square Garden performance with Michael Jackson; the kiss with Madonna; a fling with the actor, Colin Farrell and jaunts with Paris Hilton, etc.

Published by Simon & Schuster UK, Britney Spears: The Woman In Me, is distributed throughout South Africa by Jonathan Ball Publishers.

Available at leading bookstores countrywide, it retails for R540.

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