WRITING: VICTORIA MARTINS
If you, like us, have been following Britney Spears on Instagram for the last many years, you’d know that her feed is a peculiar mix of fashion shows, hyper-feminine clip art and of late, increasingly frenzied dance performances that simultaneously confuse and worry us. With growing concerns over the 38-year-old pop icon and the state of her mental health (Comments such as “Girl, are you okay?” or “Has anyone checked in on Britney recently?” flood her Instagram), the hashtag #FreeBritney has begun trending, as people believe there is much more going on that she is not able to discuss, and that the public is not fully aware of. And if you have been on Instagram in the last few days, you have probably seen the word “conservatorship” with regards to Spears and the possible reasons for her frantic posts.
It all dates back to 2008, when the singer suffered a very public meltdown after her breakup with then-husband Kevin Federline and was soon after committed to a psychiatric hospital. After her second hospitalization within the same year, her father, Jaime Spears, petitioned with the Los Angeles County Superior Court to be given a “temporary conservatorship” over his daughter. This arrangement was later made permanent and has been ever since.
So, what is conservatorship?
So, what is conservatorship?
A conservatorship, in America, is the legal appointing of a guardian or conservator to an individual who is deemed unfit, whether mentally or physically, to care for themselves. A conservator helps with day to day affairs, and is typically appointed to those who suffer from mental illness such as schizophrenia, dementia, or to the elderly. Ultimately, the conservator/guardian has complete control over the decisions of this individual’s life.
While this seems like far too great of an amount of power for an individual to have over another, it is necessary for those that are unable to care or make informed decisions for themselves. Generally, conservators act and work in the individual’s best interest and help those who are unable, which is why this legal act is set in place by the government.
According to an article by Forbes however, in California, a conservator who is appointed in probate court has no authority to force mental health treatments or medications on the conservatee against their own will. In Spears’s case, the conservatorship means that she cannot do the following without permission and/or surveillance: choose her own lawyer, post on social media, leave the house or do unscripted interviews. She also only has 30% access to her sons Sean and Jayden (who recently revealed his feelings for his grandfather and the situation during an Instagram Live).
In early April of 2019, after Spears checked in to a mental health facility, fans were particularly sceptical by the real reasons behind her hospitalization, with growing concerns that she was being held there against her will by her father. Following the theories that Britney was being held in the mental facility against her will, her sister, Jaime Lynn Spears, tweeted “10 years ago, who was there?? I have been here long before anyone else and I’ll be here long after. I love my sister with everything I have. So, anyone or anything that speaks to the contrary can GTFOH with all the comments about what you don’t understand.”
Spears herself soon shut down these rumours as well by posting a video to Instagram stating that “all is well” and that her family has “been going through a lot of stress and anxiety lately” and she “just needed time to deal.”
View this post on Instagram
I wanted to say hi, because things that are being said have just gotten out of control!!! Wow!!! There’s rumors, death threats to my family and my team, and just so many things crazy things being said. I am trying to take a moment for myself, but everything that’s happening is just making it harder for me. Don’t believe everything you read and hear. These fake emails everywhere were crafted by Sam Lutfi years ago… I did not write them. He was pretending to be me and communicating with my team with a fake email address. My situation is unique, but I promise I’m doing what’s best at this moment 🌸🌸🌸 You may not know this about me, but I am strong, and stand up for what I want! Your love and dedication is amazing, but what I need right now is a little bit of privacy to deal with all the hard things that life is throwing my way. If you could do that, I would be forever grateful. Love you ❤️❤️❤️
However, the following month, in May of 2019, Spears appeared at a closed hearing at Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Los Angeles, to discuss the terms of her medical condition, and allegedly revealed to the judge that under her father’s control, she was forced to take drugs, and be held at the facility, all against her own will. This hearing was aimed to discuss the terms of Spears’s conservatorship with the ultimate goal of allowing her more freedom, and lifting some of the restrictions that were preventing her from being able to complete even the most basic of tasks and decisions in her own life.
Sources have speculated it is possible that although her father, Jaime Spears, could not legally force her into psychiatric treatment under conservatorship, his control over her estate, financial assets, and personal freedoms could have been used as leverage to force her to “voluntarily” check herself in to a facility earlier last year.
With the #FreeBritney movement, aimed at releasing Spears of her conservatorship, increasingly gaining momentum over the past two years, many people are wondering why exactly the star has been sentenced to this life of restrictions and confinement.
For twelve years, the A-list singer and performer has been living under the restrictions of her conservatorship, a legal guardianship reserved for individuals with decaying mental or physical health, however, since her conservatorship began, the singer has released four studio albums, completed three worldwide tours, participated as a judge on the show X-Factor, and so much more.
Fans and followers have begun speculating the true meaning and cries for help communicated through some of her recent Instagram posts. A look into some of her lyrics and album titles also have many people convinced that they too, are hidden messages relating to her confinement. Examples include “Overprotected,” “Circus,” and “Piece of Me.”
Although there haven’t been any recent comments from the Spears family, Britney’s former in-house director and photographer Andrew Gallery, posted a series of TikToks a few days ago in which he reads an old handwritten letter that Gallery states was given to him by Britney. The letter outlines the struggles she faced during her divorce with ex-husband Federline and how she lost control after her kids were taken away from her. In the note, Gallery reads, “As well she wasn’t listening to her manger, he lost control, so he wanted to scare her. Now this year, Britney has been silenced to speak about anything that’s really going on.” The letter continues on to explain how people are “controlling her life” and how much they are profiting off of doing so.
Now, this is all plenty to digest, and we’ll admit that some of it runs the risk of conjecture. However, anyone who has been paying attention to the way Spears has changed over the years would know that something is most certainly up.
According to ET Online, Spears’s next conservatorship hearing was postponed due to COVID-19, and will be now taking place on July 22. On the date of her hearing, fans and supporters will gather to rally for her release from the conservatorship. To learn more head to FreeBritney for information on the rally, petitions, boycotts and more to help get Spears the freedom she deserves.