Book Review: The Woman in Me by Britney Spears is a Raging Memoir with Startling Revelations

Back in the 90s, as I grappled with fickle friendships and a gawky fashion sense, as did most millennials, ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ set some serious #goals. Britney Spears showed us how to be cool in school, with pigtails, crop tops, lip gloss and moves like a gymnast. 

Turns out, the video’s picturisation was entirely Spears’ idea. The song was all over MTV and almost everyone in my circle was enamoured by the artiste, the music, and the choreography. And then she did it again! Belted out one hit after another, Britney effectively ruled the millennial playlist well into 2010.

In the next few years, while she revelled in fame and money, her sense of agency was slowly stripped off. The Woman in Me is a poignant account of the pop artiste’s checkered life, where she lays bare her naïveté as she dealt with relationships and life’s many curveballs.  

Even though she came from a broken home, Spears recounts her childhood delightfully, thanks to all the singing and performing which brought her immense joy. It was “spiritual” for her. However, the ‘little entertainer’ of her neighbourhood who was “always dancing on the coffee table for attention” was also adulting too much, too soon. 

If nothing else, she was quite the hustler. Picture this: she was cleaning shellfish and waitressing at age nine, and smoking and having cocktails with her mother at age 13. She had even started driving in her early teens. These confessions elicited feelings of awe and sympathy. Normalcy evaded her in her growing-up years.

From the age of 16, when her first song came out, Spears was required to grow a thick skin—albeit unsuccessfully, as the memoir reveals—to deal with sexism, criticism, heartbreaks, and unforgiving media interviews.  

Spears’ throwback from her early teen years when she shared the stage as part of ‘The Mickey Mouse Club’ with Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, and Ryan Gosling is endearing. The show proved to be a launchpad for these artists and sparked off the tumultuous relationship between Spears and Timberlake. Her break-up with Timberlake in 2002, she says, pushed her into a dark place. 

As you dive into the sad and lonely life of the former pop sensation, you cannot help but empathise with her while questioning some of her actions and inactions. From being accused of partying too much and doing drugs to being widely and ruthlessly criticised for her relationship choices and parenting capabilities, Spears faced constant rebukes. 

The part where she talks about her father taking over the reins of her life—through a conservatorship arrangement—is deeply saddening. More so because of Spears’s vivid portrayal of how cruelly her parents treated her when she was at her lowest. She reveals that her wings were clipped: who she dated, what she ate, how much of her own earned money she could keep, among several other aspects, were controlled. She was often sent to rehab facilities and forcefully put on birth control, having no choice in either matter. 

Her revelation that she thought her family was trying to “kill” her speaks volumes of the oppressive environment she was living in and also of her poor mental state. 

‘Eating a chocolate’ without being told it would make her fat, ‘staring at the ocean’, and ‘sipping a cocktail’ are some of the things she is cherishing now that the conservatorship has ended.

The book is a heavy read. I almost felt apologetic for not knowing what the singer I once admired was going through. And that is, frankly, what kept me hooked despite the unremarkable writing. It just reads like her personal diary. If you are a Britney fan, you would want to hear her side of the story. And re-hear some of her iconic songs.

Pick up Britney Spears’ ‘The Woman in Me’ from any Kunzum store or WhatsApp +91.8800200280 to order. Buy the book(s) and the coffee’s on us.

About the Reviewer:

Sapna Nair is a writer, editor, and writing coach. She has worked with publications such as Financial Express, Business Today, and afaqs!. Follow her escapades on Instagram.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Woman in Me by Britney Spears is a Raging Memoir with Startling Revelations”

  1. Very nice read. Even though I’m not a millennial and thought Spears was dysfunctional instead of inspiring, I hope she finds peace. 🙂

  2. Outstanding review, you definitely captured the essence of her journey. Thanks for sharing your personal reflections on her triumphs and struggles..


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