In Defense of Britney Spears

Della Johnson | Staff Writer

As the world becomes more cognisant of the severe importance of mental health, it’s probably best that everyone issues a formal apology to Britney Spears. Sprouting into massive fame at only age 17, Spears seemed to have all media attention set upon her. She became a symbol of pop culture and current trends–and, as a result of her spotlight, was hypersexualized, villainized, and deprived of all privacy. As she accumulated this intrusive following, she also fell into a multitude of mental health issues, anxiety being one of her major struggles. This led to a breakdown in the year 2007–highlighted insensitively by media coverage of images of her shaving her head. 

We haven’t known much of Britney Spears’ personal life over the course of her career, only what we’ve diminished her to: a young superstar teetering on the edge of a breakdown (real words from the infamous New York Daily News cover). Her life and and her mind have been squashed to internet memes, to RedBubble stickers claiming to “feel like Britney in 2007”. It was only recently that she garnered some sort of positive light, when the New York Times published a documentary on the musician titled, “Framing Britney Spears”, diving deep into everything we were unable to see at the time: harassment from paparazzi, her personal struggles, and her court-ordered conservatorship headed by her father, Jamie Spears.

Spears is almost 40 now, and she has almost no access to her own life: her money, her kids, her job. This documentary is giving her a voice that she’s been prevented from producing. A voice of her own, one that won’t constantly reduce her to malevolence or insanity. And it’s teaching everyone who has ever followed pop culture a lesson as well: famous women with emotions aren’t always evil, despite what any news source may be spewing. It shouldn’t have taken an hour-long documentary for people to want to listen to Britney Spears’ story. 

Celebrities, even with their entire lives plastered across the internet and magazines, are human beings. If we continue allowing headlines to dictate our image of these people, what does that say about our judgement?