For a woman who has lived most of her life in the spotlight, Britney Spears can be extremely private. It’s part of what draws us to her: the fact that she can post a photo of herself in a bikini on Instagram while at the same time avoiding discussing the ups and downs of her nearly two decadeslong career.
That’s why it’s so surprising that she opened up in a recent interview in Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot about her struggles with mental health and fame. (The original interview is in Hebrew, but here is a translated version.) Here are some of her biggest reveals as she nears the end of her Asian tour.
“I think I had to give myself more breaks through my career and take responsibility for my mental health,” she said.
Though it’s something we’ve suspected for years, Spears confirmed that in her 20s, there were a lot of decisions made for her that she wouldn’t have necessarily made for herself.
The Israeli journalist who conducted the interview used the word “overprotected” to describe her former situation, and the pop singer agreed.
“My life was controlled by too many people and that doesn’t really let you be yourself,” she explained. "In that situation, when you’re not in control, you become less excited, and there’s less passion when it comes to music. I wrote back then that I was lost and didn’t know what to do with myself. I was trying to please everyone around me because that's who I am deep inside. There are moments where I look back and think: 'What the hell was I thinking?'"
On top of Spears’ mental health challenges, she said that she’s also a very private person, and being so publicly visible didn’t help matters.
“Deep inside I wish to be very private, which I believe I am,” she told the Israeli publication. “All this fame is way too much for me, as it’s really hard to grasp its magnitude. When you’re young and in the beginning of your career it’s understandable that you've just stepped into this world.”
After being hounded by photographers for so longer, Spears wishes she could go somewhere and not be recognized.
“I have these moments where I just want to dress up like a normal person and walk in the street. It goes through my mind quite a lot," she said.
After bursting onto the pop music scene in her teens, by the time Spears hit her 20s, she was already a veteran performer. But that didn’t mean things were easy.
“I think I had fun when I was younger," she said. "I was a pretty normal girl, a tomboy. But my 20s were awful. My 30s are much better for me. I've learned to get to know myself better.”
After Spears was photographed driving around with her son Sean on her lap in the car, she blamed the paparazzi for having to do it, saying that she was very stressed. The only thing that helped? Not making public appearances for two years.
“Those were the toughest years,” she explained. “I think the paparazzi took off the pressure after I didn’t leave my house for two years.”
Whether or not you were a pop star at 16, this advice makes sense. “Enjoy the moment,” she said. “That’s something that’s really hard to understand when you’ve started young in this business.”
Technically, the rest are less about mental health, but interesting nonetheless.
When asked if it is harder for her in the pop industry with powerhouses like Beyoncé, Rihanna and Taylor Swift around, she said, “I think we need to support each other from a place of women empowerment.”
When asked what she would do and where she would go if she could be unknown for a day, she said that if she answered honestly, people would know where to find her. But she did disclose her last Google search, which was “cool beaches to take kids to.”
One of the most iconic moments in a career filled with them came at the 2001 VMAs when Spears performed her song “I’m A Slave 4 U” onstage with a 7-foot albino Burmese python draped over her shoulders. Turns out, she was just as scared of it as the rest of us.
“That was pretty scary,” she said. “Stupid even. I wouldn’t do that again.”
We hear ya, Brit. Mostly though, we're glad you're feeling better.
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