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#FreeBritney: Britney Spears' struggle under conservatorship

After years of being under her father Jamie Spears' oppressive conservatorship, pop icon Britney Spears has made strides in regaining her financial and mental freedom.  – Photo by Britney Spears / Instagram

For more than two decades, pop artist Britney Spears has graced our car radios and TV screens. From her time on The Mickey Mouse Club to the release of her hit songs “Toxic” and “Womanizer” (among many others, of course), we’ve followed along for all of the high moments in her career. 

But, unfortunately, due to her heavy presence in the mainstream media, we've also witnessed some of the lowest moments in her life.

It’s no secret that Britney Spears has struggled with mental health throughout the years, and after several public breakdowns between 2007 and 2008, her father Jamie Spears petitioned for a temporary conservatorship over his daughter.

This conservatorship, which is typically granted when an individual is deemed unfit to look after themselves, gave Jamie Spears full control over Britney Spears’ financial assets, medical records and the ability to cancel any previous contracts she may have signed, among other things.

Now, 13 years later, this “temporary” conservatorship is still in place.

It’s not really publicly known whether Britney Spears herself feels as though she still needs this oversight. But, she’s made it clear that at the very least she doesn’t want her father in charge.

In August 2020, Britney Spears requested the court to remove Jamie Spears’ control. And while the court denied this request, at the most recent hearing on Feb. 11, the court appointed Bessemer Trust, an outside financial group, as co-conservator.

While this was a step in the right direction for Britney Spears to finally be free from her father’s control, she has continued to try and remove him from his position entirely. But, Jamie Spears has argued that being made co-conservator had already stripped enough of his power away.

Experiencing something like this, where a member of your family seems to be so infatuated with controlling you, is hard enough. And not only does she have to worry about that, but also she also has to worry about the potential for public scrutiny.

The one silver lining throughout all of this, though, is the ability for her fans to show their unconditional support.

They have continued to vocalize their support for Britney Spears by launching the #FreeBritney movement in an attempt to spread awareness about her conservatorship and advocate for its end.

“Her conservators decide whether or not she works, as she cannot enter into contracts herself because she is legally not her own person,” according to the movement’s website. “Britney (Spears’) conservators maintain that she is too disabled due to dementia to care for herself despite an active career and personal life.”

The movement began in 2009, but recently reemerged when an episode of the “Britney’s Gram” podcast featured an anonymous lawyer who had previously worked for the firm that oversaw the conservatorship, voicing concerns over having her father run her life.

On their website, members of the #FreeBritney movement laid out everything you need to know. They’ve developed timelines, compiled relevant news articles and court documents, as well as additional resources for conservatorships in general. 

The movement is also demonstrated in a recent Hulu documentary, "The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears." Her supporters are shown taking to the streets during her court hearings and standing outside, attempting to listen in and take detailed notes on everything going on inside.

If you haven’t watched this documentary yet, I highly suggest you do so. It takes you through the rise and fall (and rise, again) of Britney Spears’ career, and it also gives you a chance to see how the media’s portrayal of her impacted her life in addition to the struggles she’s faced due to her conservatorship.

Additionally, the documentary touches on how her father was not an active presence in her life growing up. To me, this is one of the most interesting aspects. Why would someone be so distant during their child’s life, yet claim to have their best interests at heart after they gain a multi-million dollar platform?

It speaks volumes how her fanbase — most of which have never interacted with her on a personal level — care more about her freedom than a member of her own family.

While the future of Britney Spears’ conservatorship is unknown, we can only hope that one day a judge will have enough compassion to finally listen to her requests and #FreeBritney.

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