“Everyone now, they look back and they’re like, ‘What happened to your sweet image that you used to be?’ And I’m like, then when I came out you thought I was too provocative. It’s like you can never win. No matter what you do, at the end of the day you can’t please everybody, you know. I’m not here to please…” (Spears, Primetime Interview with Diane Sawyer)
Britney Spears is an American singer/songwriter who helped revive teen pop. Her eminence comes from popularizing being provocative in music videos and performances during a time where it was obscure. Being one of the first, it brought along a lot of controversy surrounding whether it was okay for a teenager to dress up the way she did. Without her contribution to this new pop era, the popularity of provocative music would not have been as prevalent as it currently is. She was also the top teenage artist of her time and had several of her albums reach number 1 on Billboard. Britney’s contribution to pop culture through her catchy songs, and her signature raspy voice will be remembered for as long as music exists. Britney’s presence remains in popular artists such as Doja Cat whose music is predominantly provocative and carries parts of what made Britney eminent with them. Britney’s story around the many obstacles she has had to overcome will also be memorable due to the impact it had on pop culture media.
Britney’s struggles throughout her career have had a very big impact on her mental health. Her explosive rise to the top combined with her popularity meant she often dealt with a lack of privacy and respect by others. Many didn’t like the change in style and have tried to push a negative image on her to get her to stop. Having everything about her life publicized meant that she dealt with a lot of pressure to be perfect. She was constantly berated by paparazzi who often interfered with her ability to do everyday tasks. Her mental health was slowly getting worse and was what led her to her “mental breakdown” where again, it was publicized. She could not even go to the hospital without paparazzi blocking the ambulance’s way. She was admitted to a psychiatric hospital which led to a conservatorship that no longer allowed Britney to control her finances, estate, and her life including custody over her kids. Since then, she has talked about wanting to “be normal” and “take time to be normal”. As of this year, 2021, her path to reaching her goal seems to be getting closer with the end of her conservatorship.
I connect with Britney through the struggles she has faced. Even past the barriers I have with her, such as gender, age, and mental health, the most impactful commonality we share is one-sided misrepresentation. These barriers limit my understanding of Britney, but I know that we both have a single story that cannot be changed. Behind what everyone can see is different from what is truly there and what only I can see. I don’t believe anybody understands Britney, the same way I feel that nobody will fully understand me. Often as gifted learners, one common stereotype about us is that we are all smarter, and we are all the same mentally. Just like Britney was compared with other teen pop stars, I am constantly compared to my classmates in academic and social skills and when I am different from the rest, I am pushed back by others into fitting the role of how they view a gifted student. I hope that as a TALONS learner, I can push past these restrictions just as Britney has and use this to my advantage to be my better self. Britney’s story demonstrates fame can be bleak and how much mental illness is easily affected by others. I believe the struggles she faced led to the growth of her community and others in pop culture to be more understanding and aware. I wish to delve more deeply into her rise and what led her up to that and focus more on the positive aspects of her life and music career.
Britney Spears. (2021). Biography.com. https://www.biography.com/musician/britney-spears
Britney Spears. (2021). Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Britney-Spears
Britney Spears says she lied about being happy on social media ‘because of my pride’. (2021). NBCNews.com. https://www.nbcnews.com/pop-culture/pop-culture-news/britney-spears-says-she-lied-about-being-happy-social-media-n1272320
In pictures: Pop icon Britney Spears. (2021). CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/09/entertainment/gallery/britney-spears/index.html
Sawyer, D. (2003). Britney Spears – Primetime Interview with Diane Sawyer. ABC News.