Britney Spears' The Woman in Me: 25 things we learnt from the autobiography

Here are the biggest takeaways from Britney's highly-anticipated memoir
Britney Spears The Woman in Me book cover

Britney Spears is free. 

That freedom - from a thirteen-year conservatorship that was finally overturned in 2021 - has allowed Britney the space and the time to heal, and now she's finally ready to tell her story.

Finally published today (October 24 2023) after months of hype, The Woman In Me (taken, of course, from a lyric from the classic I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman) takes on the journey from the very beginning of Britney's career, to the suffocating horror of mega-fame, to how she managed to survive the trauma and abuse inflicted on her during the conservatorship...and what happens next.

As a pop star (and boy, is she a pop star), Britney is by any metric one of the most successful performers of her generation. She has earned six UK Number 1 singles and a staggering 24 UK Top 10 entries in a career that now spans nearly 30 years. While Britney hasn't released an album since 2016's well-received Glory, last year saw her lay her original vocals down on a track for the first time in over half a decade.

A collaboration with Elton John, Hold Me Closer debuted at Number 3 on the Official Singles Chart, the highest new entry of that week

Here are the 25 things we learned from reading Britney Spears' memoir, The Woman In Me. 

Buy now from Amazon, price £12.50. (*Affiliate link - if you purchase via this link, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.)

You can re-visit Britney's Official biggest singles and albums in the UK right here

1. Britney started performing to support her family

The Woman In Me starts with Britney remembering her humble beginnings in Louisville, Kentucky, but the story of her childhood, while endearing in parts, does not sound wholly idyllic. While she saw first-hand the strain her father Jamie's alcoholism placed on his marriage with her mother, Lynne. 

Britney speaks openly about how she first started auditioning for roles and shows in part to help support her family with an extra income flow, since her father had already sunk several businesses. In fact, Britney even remembers auditioning for The New Mickey Mouse Club aged just 8, where she first met Christina Aguilera and the actress Keri Russel. She wouldn't get the job the first time around, but re-auditioned aged 11, signed with a talent agency and moved to New York with her mother and younger sister Jamie Lynn, where she would end up signing a record deal with Jive Records aged just 15.

2. She had a very memorable first meeting with Max Martin before they made ...Baby One More Time

One of (if not the) the most important people Britney met while recording her debut album was the Swedish pop producer Max Martin, who hadn't yet become one of the most successful musical svengali's of all time. In The Woman In Me, Britney recalls first meeting Max at the behest of her label, when they sat down to eat at a restaurant, a waiter tipped a candle and set the entire table on fire. 

From there (and thankfully sans burns), Britney flew to Sweden to record her debut single, ...Baby One More Time, with Max. She speaks very positively about their working relationship, stating "Max listened to me, when I said I wanted more R&B in my voice, less straight pop, he knew what I want and he made it happen."

3. Britney confirms she did change the original pitch for the ...Baby One More Time music video

One of the longest rumours circling around that time in Britney's life is that she scrapped an initial pitch for the ...Baby One More Time music video. In the book, Britney confirms this, and even gives a few details about what this original concept was. 

Apparently, she was originally going to be starring as some kind of outer-space astronaut (very Oops! I Did It Again, no?) and recalls the mock-up making her look "like a Power Ranger."

4. She has a very funny observation for people who were critical of her image

Even though she was never given her dues for it at the time, Britney always had an intrinsic understanding of her image and how to best use it. The ...Baby One More Time's school set music video is probably the best earlier example of this, a fascinating and actually very intelligent framing of Britney as an artist that straddles the line between the Madonna-whore dichotomy. 

But when writing about how other people perceived her image, Britney has an absolute zinger of a comeback; "I was never quite sure what all those critics thought I should be doing...a Bob Dylan impression?"

5. She was terrified of the iconic snake used in her 2001 VMA I'm A Slave 4 U performance 

One of the most enduring images from Britney's entire career is her performing her slinky, Janet Jackson-esque steamer I'm A Slave 4 U at the 2001 VMA Awards, a massive white python strung across her shoulders. 

But it turns out, even pop stars are affected by being creeped out by massive snakes.

"I felt if I looked up and caught its eye, it would kill me. What nobody knows is that as I was singing, the snake brought its head right up to my face and started hissing [...] finally, I got to the part where I handed it back."

6. Britney turned down a role in the film adaption of Chicago

One of the only regrets Britney speaks about during her memoir is not fully pursuing a career in acting. She speaks about taking her Method acting maybe a bit too far in Crossroads (of all things!) and from then on, being a bit hesitant to commit to another acting role, especially given her commitments to touring.

But she reveals that director Rob Marshall offered her an unspecified role in his movie musical adaption of Chicago, which she regrets turning down. For our money, we reckon Britney was never in the running for Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) or Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger), but instead was most likely offered the smaller role of one of the Cell Block Tango sirens (maybe the role that went to fellow singer Mya?) or the femme fatale heiress played by Lucy Liu.

7. Britney confirms that Justin Timberlake cheated on her several times during their relationship

For perhaps the first time, Britney speaks intimately about her relationship with fellow pop superstar Justin Timberlake; from first meeting when they were Mousketeers, to re-connecting when they were both forging careers in the pop sphere. 

She clearly still feels a deep love and connection to Timberlake, and the relationship they shared, which she writes about in more detail and feeling than any of her others, but she does confirm in writing that the relationship was anything but perfect. In fact, while she states Timberlake cheated on her several times during the recording of his solo debut Justified, Britney also admits she had a one-night stand with the choreographer Wade Robson, which hastened the end of her and Timberlake's time together. 

8. She's not bothered by Justin Timberlake revealing she had lost her virginity to the world

Britney candidly reacts to the moment where, in a televised interview, Justin Timberlake revealed they had been sexually intimate with each other, which was a direct contradiction into the framing of Britney at the time. 

But, looking back on it, she doesn't seem to fazed about it. "Was I made at being 'outed' by [Timberlake] as sexually active? No. To be honest, I liked that Justin said that. Whose business was it if I'd had sex or not?"

9. Britney and Colin Farrell had a very hot, but short-lived, relationship

The split from Timberlake clearly deeply affected Britney, and she admits herself that she probably did not allow herself the time and space to properly process the break-up and move on from it in a healthy way. 

But she does share that on the rebound, she casually started seeing Irish actor Colin Farrell, for a two week "brawl." Brawl!

britney spears memoir

10. She opens up about how fame and celebrity exacerbated her anxiety 

It's no surprise that a large part of The Woman In Me revolves around Britney's relationship to fame. One of the most touching parts of the prose sees her reflect on how becoming one of the most famous women in the world affected her social anxiety.

"I veered between being very social and very isolated," Brit recalls. "Anxiety is strange that way [...] it was hard for anyone to imagine that someone who could perform for thousands at a time could, backstage, be gripped by panic." 

11. Britney really, really looks up to Madonna and Mariah Carey

As you will know if you have ever perused her very active Instagram account, Britney Spears is a goofball at heart. And this goofiness is on fine display when she recalls meeting one of her idols, Mariah Carey, backstage at an award show. She always insists on calling Mariah by her full name, "because she's Mariah Carey." Speak on it, queen!

Madonna also gets a very lovely section, where Brit admires how Madonna managed to find a sense of control and dominance in her career, something Britney has always lacked. 

"In many ways, Madonna [had] a good effect on me," she says. "Madonna's supreme confidence helped me see a lot about my situation with fresh eyes. I think she probably had some intuitive sense of what I was going through. She tried to mentor me."

12. She got married in Vegas because she was, uh, 'very drunk'

A laugh-out-loud section is where Britney recalls, still trying to rebound from Timberlake, ending up in Vegas with several friends from home. She ended up marrying one of them, Jason Alexander, which ended up lasting about 55 hours, when she was pressured to annul the marriage by her family.

Writing about that time, Britney says; "People have asked me if I loved him. To be clear; he and I were not in love. I was just honestly very drunk, and very bored."

13. Her controversial marriage to Kevin Federline doesn't come across well

Britney controversially married the dancer and wannabe rapper Kevin Federline in 2004. They were married until 2007 and they had two sons, Sean Preston and Jayden James. While Britney points out several times that having her sons is the greatest gift she's ever been given, her marriage to Federline - who tried to bolster his own career thanks to their relationship - was contentious and frustrating.

14. Britney hated performing on the Onyx Hotel Tour

The Onyx Hotel Tour was put on in support of Britney's (very good) fourth album The Onyx Hotel Tour, but she admits in the book that she "hated" the entire experience, given her exhaustion. Plagued with injury, The Onyx Hotel Tour would come to an end after Britney injured herself filming a music video for Outrageous. Safe to say, she wasn't too upset about that.

15. She speaks really candidly about the effect her extreme fame had on her

One of the most well-tread parts of Britney's life by this point is the extreme effect her mega-fame had on her psyche. In the book, she attributes her breakdown to several factors; absolute exhaustion, the dissolution of her marriage to Federline and the efforts by him to block her from seeing her sons. 

"Some celebrities can handle fame well," Brit writes, "I [can't]. My first two or three years I was good at it. But fame? That world isn't real."

16. She thinks Blackout is the best album she's ever made

Despite the chaos in Britney's life at that time, she made arguably her most critically-acclaimed (and certainly her most influential) album during this period; Blackout.

And it's nice to see that Britney also recognises that she made something special. She states that Blackout "was a battle cry [...] it was one of the most easiest and satisfying albums I ever made." Although she really doesn't like the video for Gimme More, calling it tacky. Sorry!

17. Britney says she shaved her head to regain a sense of control in her life

While it's not nice to remember in hindsight, one of the watershed moments for pop culture in the 21st century is the image of Britney shaving her hair - one of her defining characteristics - in an LA salon.

Looking back on this moment, Britney ruminates that, in hindsight, this was her way of fighting back against the people and press who were trying to control her.

"Shaving my head was a way of saying to the world; f*ck you. [...] my long hair was a part of what people liked - I knew that."

18. The beginning of her conservatorship reads like a horror movie

By now, it's a well-trodden story that Britney was basically forced into a controlling and coercive 13 year conservatorship by her father. Reading her memories of that time, it's not hard to be full of a kind of creeping dread, like you're watching the start of a horror movie, where Britney recalls recognising that something was desperately wrong...but not realising until it was too late. 

19. She takes on the double standards female pop stars face against their male peers

Britney has always been a firebrand of an artist. You don't become one of the best-selling female acts of all time without causing a little controversy, after all. 

"Other people - and by other people I mean men - were afforded that freedom. Male pop stars were sleeping with lots of people and that was awesome. Shaving my head and acting out were my ways of pushing back. If they'd let me live my life, I would have followed my heart and come out of this the right way."

britney spears piece of me

20. She really, really doesn't like Britney Jean (but she does like Work Bitch!)

2013 album Britney Jean is a...contentious release to say the least. Flagged as the most personal album of her career prior to release, both fans and critics were dismayed to then listen to an album of mostly face-less electropop. 

Britney holds back no punches when discussing Britney Jean, either. In fact, she says she was "making a lot of music I wasn't proud of at that time," but does admit she made one (one!) good song with - the banging Work Bitch. 

21. Making Glory with Justin Tranter and Julia Michaels is clearly a career high-mark for her

But! The low point of Britney Jean did have its upside; 2016 LP Glory ranks among one of Britney's best-ever efforts, and its clear she's still enamoured with her work on that album, especially her collaborations with songwriters Justin Tranter and Julia Michaels.

In fact, Britney reveals that it was her sons who actually came up with the name. 

22. She felt trapped and pressured to perform on her Las Vegas residency 

While it did re-envigorate her career (and prove a supple boost to the Las Vegas economy, which has recently welcomed residency's by Lady Gaga and Adele), Britney seems to have a difficult relationship with her Piece Of Me residency, mostly because her schedule of shows was all-consuming, and she was tricked into setting off on a UK and European tour after being promised a holiday with her sons. 

23. The most engaging parts of The Woman In Me deal with the trauma and abuse she suffered under the conservatorship

While it does make for a difficult read in places, the most engaging parts of the memoir deal directly with the trauma and abuse Britney suffered under the conservatorship.

"It had been such a long road," she remembers, "of finding faith and losing it again. Of being pushed down and getting back up Of chasing freedom only for it to slip right out of my fingers. If I can manifest anything, I thought, let me manifest an end to this."

24. She remembers finally being able to speak out in 2021 very clearly

If you were on the internet on June 24 2021, you will remember an audio surfacing on Britney finally being able to dial into court and speak her truth. Clearly, this meant a lot to Britney and being able to read her putting her emotions into words is one of the greatest takeaways from The Woman In Me. 

"For the first time in what felt like forever," she remembered, "I began to tell my story."

25. She has no interest in recording new music at the moment (but that could change)

The Woman In Me ends on a stirring note, with Britney finally free, but clearly still trying to ratify what this freedom actually means. Of course, a lot of Britney's fans are expecting new music from her on the horizon, but while Britney clearly loved getting into the studio with Elton John for Hold Me Closer, she's also hesitant to fully commit to pushing out new music in the near future...but never say never.

"Pushing forward in my music career is not my focus right now," Britney admits. "Right now, it's time for me to try to get my spiritual life in order. Being an entertainer was great, but over the last five years my passion to entertain in front of a live audience has lessended. I do it for myself now."

The Woman In Me is out now. Buy now from Amazon, price £12.50. 

(*Affiliate link - if you purchase via links in this article, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.)

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