In her upcoming memoir, The Woman in Me, Britney Spears will reflect on the highs, lows, and biggest headlines throughout her tumultuous career in the spotlight.
Specifically, in an excerpt obtained by People, the pop icon looks back on a very difficult period of her life in 2007, when she was being relentlessly harassed by paparazzi while navigating her bitter divorce from Kevin Federline.
In February that year, around the height of the media scrutiny and the breakdown of her marriage, Britney walked into a hair salon in California and asked a stylist to cut off her hair, which was brunette at the time.
The stylist apparently refused, and so Britney took matters into her own hands and shaved her head with a pair of clippers as paparazzi captured photographs of the moment from outside.
As you’ll probably know, the head-shaving incident fed into the media narrative that Britney was in the midst of a “meltdown” at the time, and the moment has since been remembered as the one of the lowest points of her life before she was put under a conservatorship the following year.
But now, more than 16 years on, Britney is finally opening up about the reasons behind her decision.
In the newly released excerpt, the singer recalls that shaving her hair off was a complete act of rebellion after years of being picked apart for her appearance.
“I’d been eyeballed so much growing up. I’d been looked up and down, had people telling me what they thought of my body, since I was a teenager,” she writes. “Shaving my head and acting out were my ways of pushing back.”
As previously mentioned, Britney’s conservatorship came into effect a year later in 2008, which meant that her life and finances were tightly controlled by her father, Jamie Spears, and a group of lawyers.
And so, with Jamie now in control, she says she was swiftly ordered to return to her original blonde locks and throw herself back into work.
“Under the conservatorship I was made to understand that those days were now over,” she says of being able to push back against the scrutiny. “I had to grow my hair out and get back into shape. I had to go to bed early and take whatever medication they told me to take.”
The years that followed were a success in terms of the career comeback Britney’s conservators hoped to orchestrate. By the end of 2008, she released her sixth studio album, Circus, and she later embarked on a highly lucrative tour.
She released subsequent albums in 2011 and 2013, and even went on to land a Las Vegas residency titled Britney: Piece of Me, which ran for four years until December 2017.
However, despite a busy schedule and plenty of commercial success, Britney recalls in her memoir that she felt empty and miserable under the control of her conservatorship throughout these years.
“I would do little bits of creative stuff here and there, but my heart wasn’t in it anymore,” she writes. “As far as my passion for singing and dancing, it was almost a joke at that point. Thirteen years went by with me feeling like a shadow of myself.”
Looking back on the way she was controlled by her “father and his associates,” Britney also considers that a man facing difficulties in the public eye wouldn’t have received the same treatment.
“It makes me feel sick… Think of how many male artists gambled all their money away; how many had substance abuse or mental health issues,” she writes. “No one tried to take away their control over their bodies and money. I didn’t deserve what my family did to me.”