The 17 Biggest Revelations From Britney Spears’s “The Woman in Me” Memoir
Britney Spears’s memoir, “The Woman in Me,” is one of the year’s most highly anticipated book releases. Few public figures have been more scrutinized than Spears over the years. In spite of that, she’s inspired much devotion from fans and fascination from the world at large.
“The Woman in Me” is a sad story, detailing how other people have controlled Spears’s life since she was young. Most of us know the individual fragments of her story from tabloids – from the time she shaved her head to her release from her 13-year conservatorship in 2021 – but seeing it all laid out together makes her journey much more clear and still a bit disturbing.
In the book, Britney paints the picture of a hard-working woman who loves to sing and dance and just wants to be good, but was heavily taken advantage of throughout her life, even as she raked in millions of dollars. It also shows how one calamity bled into another, revealing how she barely had time to heal from painful and traumatic situations before being forced to work again. Moreover, her memoir unveils the story of a woman taking shaky steps toward finding her own freedom and healing at long last.
Ahead, see the biggest revelations we gathered from “The Woman in Me.”
1. Britney Spears Was Aware That Justin Timberlake Cheated on Her While They Were Dating
In her memoir, Spears writes that she connected with ex Justin Timberlake immediately when they were kids on “The Mickey Mouse Club,” and says she fell in love with him while touring with *NSYNC. She and Timberlake later moved into a house in Orlando, FL, but things in their relationship didn’t go smoothly from there. “There were a couple of times during our relationship when I knew Justin had cheated on me,” she writes. “Especially because I was so infatuated and so in love, I let it go.”
Spears writes that one night she made out with dancer Wade Robson and later admitted that to Timberlake, who would later paint Spears as a serial cheater following their breakup.
2. Britney Spears’s Snake Started Hissing at Her During Her Iconic 2001 MTV VMAs Performance
Spears’s “I’m a Slave 4U” performance at the 2001 VMAs was iconic, but it was also terrifying for her. “What nobody knows is that as I was singing, the snake brought its head right around to my face, right up to me, and started hissing at me,” she writes. “You didn’t see that shot on the TV, but in real life? I was thinking, ‘Are you f*cking serious right now? The f*cking goddamn snake’s tongue is flicking out at me. Right. Now.'”
3. Britney Spears Reveals She Had Abortion While Dating Justin Timberlake
One of the biggest shocks in the memoir is that Spears an abortion while dating Timberlake because he allegedly didn’t want the baby. “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,” she writes. “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.”
The abortion took place at home and was excruciatingly painful for Spears, who writes that she didn’t want to go through with it in the first place.
4. Britney Spears Says Justin Timberlake Broke Up With Her Via Text
Spears also claims that Timberlake broke up with her via text message, leaving her completely brokenhearted. She writes that she was “devastated” and “could barely speak for months.” Timberlake eventually flew to Louisiana and gave her a long letter. “I still have it under my bed,” Spears writes. Ultimately, she adds, a visit to Donatella Versace in Milan helped her remember that “there was still fun to be had in the world.”
She also writes that their breakup was especially difficult because she was close with Timberlake’s family, given that her own could be toxic. “My little sister – well, when I tell you she was a total b*tch, I’m not exaggerating,” Spears writes. The singer also alludes to sister Jamie Lynn Spears being a spoiled child, while Spears felt like a “ghost child.” She also frequently references her childhood, which she says was marred by her father’s drunkenness and her mother’s rage.
5. Madonna Tried to Mentor Britney Spears
Spears details her various run-ins with celebrities throughout the memoir, writing that Robin Williams once made her laugh in an elevator in New York. She also reveals that Madonna visited her and tried to “mentor” her once. Apparently, Madonna also introduced Britney to some spiritual practices, like esoteric Jewish mysticism. “[She] did a red-string ceremony with me to initiate me into the Kabbalah, and she gave me a trunk full of Zohar books to pray with,” Spears reveals. “At the base of my neck, I tattooed a word in Hebrew that means one of the seventy-two names of God.”
6. Britney Spears’s Diane Sawyer Interview Was a “Breaking Point”
Spears says that while she was still in the throes of her and Timberlake’s breakup, her father and several men she didn’t know showed up at her home and bombarded her with questions. The next day, Spears learned that she would speak to Diane Sawyer. The infamous 2003 interview “was a breaking point for me internally – a switch had been flipped,” Spears writes. “I felt something dark come over my body.”
7. Britney Spears Didn’t Know Kevin Federline Had a Baby On the Way When They Started Dating
Spears met Kevin Federline at Joseph’s Cafe in Hollywood, and she writes that she initially found him comforting when she was looking for stability. She also says, at first, she didn’t know that he had a toddler or a pregnant ex-girlfriend.
Still, Spears writes that she wanted normalcy and independence from her family, so she married him. The pair went on to have two children together. However, according to Spears, once Federline started pursuing music and fame, their marriage fell apart. She also writes that Federline’s security didn’t let her in to see him when she tried to visit him in New York.
8. Britney Spears Claims She Was Coerced Into Filing For Divorce From Kevin Federline
Spears says that after it was clear her marriage to Federline was over, her lawyer “told me that if I didn’t file for divorce, Kevin would” and encouraged her to file. “I was led to believe that it would be better if I did it first so that I wasn’t humiliated,” she adds in the book. However, Spears was forced to pay for Federline’s legal bills and was accused of ruining her family by the press.
9. Paris Hilton Helped Britney Spears With Her Sons Amid Her Split From Kevin Federline
Paris Hilton supported Spears during her and Federline’s split, as she “saw that I had babies and that I was suffering from the breakup, and I think she felt sorry for me,” Spears writes. “She came over to my house and she helped me so much . . . She encouraged me to try to have fun for the first time in a long time.” Spears also claims that she never had a drinking problem. The only drug she ever used was Adderall, which “gave me a few hours of feeling less depressed,” she writes. As for the infamous night she, Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan all went out together, “We got drunk. That’s it!” Spears writes. She also reveals that the night she returned home, where her mom was watching her kids, her mom started screaming at her for being drunk. “That’s what my family has always done – treated me like I was bad,” Spears writes. “. . . No matter how many fans I had in the world, my parents never seemed to think I was worth much.”
Spears also writes that during that time, she suffered from “severe postpartum depression” and felt she “couldn’t live if things didn’t get better.” Additionally, she says she became desperate to escape her mother and family back then.
10. Britney Spears Reveals What Led to Her Shaving Her Head and Hitting a Paparazzo’s Car With an Umbrella
Spears writes that ultimately, losing access to her children was another breaking point that led to her behavior in the late 2000s. She says that learning that Federline was campaigning for full custody led her to shave her head. She also says she hit a paparazzo’s car with her umbrella after he continued to ask how she felt about not seeing her kids, though Spears later says she’d sent the photo agency an apology note. Additionally, she highlights the double standards that allow male artists and celebrities to get away with this kind of behavior all the time.
Spears also writes that her now soon-to-be ex-husband Sam Asghari – whom she refers to by his first name, Hesam, and whom she was still married to while writing the memoir – encouraged her to see shaving her head in a different way. “Now my husband, Hesam, tells me that it’s a whole thing for beautiful girls to shave their heads. It’s a vibe, he says-a choice not to play into ideas of conventional beauty.”
11. Britney Spears Claims She Didn’t Know the Photographer She Dated Was Married
After Federline took her kids away, Spears began dating a photographer named Adnan Ghalib, whom she felt was protective of her and helped with her depression. In the memoir, she reveals that she had no idea he was married and only found out after their breakup.
12. Britney Spears Claims Her Family Coerced Her Into Entering Her Conservatorship
Spears claims that while dating Ghalib, her mother told her to come to their beach house because she heard the cops might be after her. But once Spears arrived, 20 police officers descended. That, she writes, was the beginning of her conservatorship.
Though she begged for anyone other than her father, Jamie Spears, to be appointed her conservator, Spears says she was shut down. According to Spears, her father, who had been nearing bankruptcy when he became her conservator, soon began taking a larger salary from her earnings than the singer herself received. Spears later claims that her father literally told her, “I’m Britney Spears now,” when he established himself as her conservator.
13. Britney Spears Allowed Her Conservatorship to Happen So She Could See Her Kids
Spears claims she was subjected to strict rules during her conservatorship. Her home was regularly swept for drugs, including Tylenol, she writes. Additionally, she writes, no one was allowed to drink around her at parties; her father would run background checks on anyone she wanted to date; and her team would tell potential partners about her sexual history before she was allowed to date them. Parental controls were also apparently placed on her phone.
Spears writes that her father constantly called her fat and refused to allow her to eat dessert. Still, Spears says she allowed the conservatorship mostly because she could see her kids during it. During her Las Vegas residency, Spears claims she was put on an even stricter diet and had to request to leave rooms two hours ahead, so security measures could be put in place. She also claims that her father sent her to rehab after finding out she was taking energy supplements.
14. Britney Spears Tried to End the Conservatorship in 2014
Spears says she went to court in 2014 and tried to escape her conservatorship, though her attempt was unsuccessful. She also notes she mentioned the conservatorship on a talk show in 2016 – but that part didn’t air.
15. Britney Spears Compares Her Institutionalization to a “Horror Movie”
Spears says her father and team forced her to do another round of her Las Vegas residency even though she had told them she didn’t want to. One day, she said no to a choreographer’s suggestion that seemed too difficult for her and started working on her own dance moves, she writes. Soon after, she claims, she was forced to enter a rehab facility, with her father threatening to take her to court if she didn’t go.
Spears writes that at the facility, she wasn’t allowed to bathe in private, had to donate blood weekly, had her pulse checked multiple times daily, and had to keep her bedroom door open at all times. She also claims she forcibly took lithium after using Prozac for many years – the same drug that her grandmother, who committed suicide at age 31, had been put on when she was institutionalized.
Spears writes that being at the treatment center felt like “being in my very own horror movie,” adding, “[it] broke my spirit.” She also says she eventually thought her team and family were trying to kill her.
16. A Nurse Told Britney Spears About the #FreeBritney Movement
While Spears was institutionalized, she writes, a nurse pulled her over and showed her an interview of people discussing the #FreeBritney movement on a talk show. Knowing that her fans were looking out for her was apparently extremely meaningful to her and helped her survive her institutionalization. “Just by doing that, they did help,” Spears writes. “I think my connection to my fans helped them subconsciously know I was in danger . . . Seeing them marching in the streets, chanting ‘Free Britney!’ – that was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen in my life.”
17. Healing Is Now Britney Spears’s Priority
Throughout the memoir, Spears is clear about how much music has always meant to her. She also reveals that after her conservatorship ended, she began working on new material and even created six songs in one day – but “pushing forward in my music career is not my focus at the moment,” she writes. “. . . It’s time for me not to be someone who other people want.”