According to the tabloids, Britney Spears had a meltdown in 2007 when she shaved her head and attacked a paparazzo’s car. But A new documentary has shed light on her declining mental health to the point where sympathy and compassion towards her situation are overwhelming emotions.  

You probably remember the photos, the magazine headlines or the entertainment newscasts declaring pop sensation Britney Spears was having a “meltdown” in 2007.

She shaved her head; she must be crazy. She took an umbrella to the car of a paparazzi; she’s obviously “unravelling” and partying too much with friends Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.

Underneath it all though was a real, human woman who was suffering, and it’s tragic the public ignored it for so long.

Framing Britney Spears, the latest documentary in the New York Times series, The New York Times Presents, hits you repeatedly like punches to the stomach. It sheds light on her rise to fame as a teen pop star to the steep decline of her mental health, not to mention the press’s abhorrent treatment of her throughout her career.

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In 2007, she was married to Kevin Federline. The couple had two children in close succession and soon after, rumours about the collapse of their marriage began to circulate.

“Britney has two kids almost back-to-back; she has her second baby just about a year after having her first baby,” explains New York Times senior editor Liz Day in the film.

“There’s a lot of speculation about whether she and Kevin [then husband Federline] have marital problems, and then, a few weeks after giving birth to her second child, Britney files for sole custody of their two kids.”

It’s at this time that Britney’s mum Lynne believes her daughter was actually suffering post-partum depression, which of course was made immeasurably worse by the constant pressure on her from the press.

Shortly after, a court ruled to grant her father the right to manage her affairs and estate if the person is deemed unable to take care of themselves; this is known as conservatorship.

Spears has lived under this arrangement since 2008, with her father James Spears overseeing much of her financial and personal life.

While conservatorships are generally portrayed as being for a person’s protection, the #FreeBritney movement argues the pop star’s life and relationships are being held hostage.

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