In November 2021, Britney Spears’ controversial conservatorship was terminated by a judge after 13 years of her personal life and career being controlled by her father and a group of lawyers.
The ruling was made after a strenuous court battle, which was largely triggered by the #FreeBritney movement that had gained traction online in recent years.
In the lead-up to her being “freed” from the legal arrangement, Britney started to post minimally censored nude photos of herself on her Instagram page.
The images saw her posing both topless and completely naked, with carefully placed emojis covering more intimate areas.
Britney previously explained that the posts were her bid to reclaim her body after 13 years of feeling constrained by her conservators.
“Before I show you more pics of my body … I want you to understand my thoughts on exposing my skin !!!!" Britney said on social media last year. "In my opinion it's quite twisted the immediate response of when any woman is hot and they want to shed a layer ... is DAMN I FEEL BETTER … therefore you think you look better !!!"
"I’ve had a billion shows where I’ve done that and to my horror uhhh we’ll … sometimes I didn’t look so great … TOO MANY TIMES and it’s embarrassing as fuck but in my imagination it felt great !!!!" she continued. "I mean I don’t want anybody to see the big dimple on my ass but I feel like performing made me too self conscious about my body and that’s not attractive."
"Anyways I bet you’re wondering why I’d expose my body NOW … well it’s because I was born into this world naked and I honestly feel like the weight of the would has been on my shoulders and it’s made me view myself that way !!!!" Britney added. "I wanted to see myself in a lighter way … naked … like the way I was born."
"I am a woman …. a beautiful … sensitive woman who needs to look at myself in my purest form !!!" she concluded. "No … I’m not going to do topless pics for the rest of my life cause that would get boring but it sure as hell helps when you need to be enlightened."
Despite her meaningful explanation, Britney’s posts often trigger a negative response from her followers, with some calling them “disturbing” and “embarrassing.”
In fact, much of the criticism is framed around concern for Britney’s well-being, with people questioning whether her posing nude online is actually a cry for help.
The overwhelming backlash even prompted a second response from Britney earlier this year, where she reinforced that she was simply making the most of being a “free woman.”
In a now-deleted Instagram post, which was shared in March, the star said: “Alrightyyy then folks … showing my bod in French Polynesia as a rebel and free WOMAN !!!!! I WILL DO BIG LETTERS CAUSE I THINK THAT MEANS IT’S IMPORTANT AND I DON’T WANT TO BE LEFT OUT.”
And while she has defiantly kept posting the images, the negative comments have continued. “I can't see these photos of Britney anymore, she really needs help and her fiance or boyfriend is not of much help,” one person wrote on her most recent nude photo, which was shared on May 28.
Another wrote: “So are we just pretending this is normal or????” Someone else added, “Someone save britney,” alongside a crying emoji.
But the reaction to Britney’s posts has been called out for “double standards” after former child star Cole Sprouse posted a nude photo of himself to Instagram on Tuesday.
At first glance, the picture appeared to be a generic selfie, with Cole’s face at the forefront.
However, his bare bottom can be seen in the reflection of a mirror behind him, and his derriere has seemingly been altered to look bigger.
Cole jokingly captioned the post: “Good morning to my publicity team."
The post was incredibly well received by Cole’s followers, and his name even began trending on Twitter as people lauded the photo.
“Best thing u ever publicized,” one person commented, earning almost 30,000 likes. Another wrote: “Cole the Stallion #hotsprousesummer,” receiving more than 35,000 likes.
“For FREE!? Charge us king!!!💸💸,” one more said in response.
It didn’t take long for people to pick up on the differing reaction to Cole’s post in comparison to Britney’s, with one social media user sharing screenshots of both comment sections to highlight the double standards.
“Oh but i thought-,” they wrote alongside the images, with the tweet quickly racking up thousands of likes and retweets.
“It’s called misogyny,” someone replied. “The double standards in our society... Disappointed but never surprised,” another tweeted.
Another wrote: “Gosh! Double standards of our society and their need to control women is so strong.” One more echoed: “It's fucked up that's called double standards. It's never okay and people are still that level of petty.”
More generally, people pointed out that Cole was exposing more than just his bottom in the photo as they compared it to the limits women face on what they can share on social media.
“Cole Sprouse can post the bottom of his balls to instagram but women aren't allowed to show a nipple?” one person tweeted. Another asked: “You guys aren’t going to slut shame Cole Sprouse like you do female celebrities?”