Britney Spears' Scandals

We can laugh at it now because she has fought her way back into the public’s good graces, but there was a period of time when Britney Spears’s behavior quickly mutated from amusing and strange to frightening and dangerous. It was one thing when she shaved her head and spoke in a mock British accent, but when she barricaded her children into her home and got hopped up on prescriptions, the attention shifted from poking fun to genuine concern.
Spears became the target of intense scrutiny from the moment she released her first single “…Baby One More Time” at the age of 17. Soon after her career took off, she started a relationship with N’Sync star Justin Timberlake, and the public salivated over every detail of their courtship, especially her claim that she would stay a virgin until marriage. But when they split in 2003 amidst allegations that she was cheating on him with choreographer Wade Robson, Timberlake’s claws came out and he blew up her spot on 20/20. When interviewer extraordinaire Barbara Walters asked him if she kept her vow of chastity, he sarcastically replied, “Sure.”

Britney rang in the New Year in 2004 by eloping with her childhood friend Jason Alexander in Las Vegas. The marriage lasted a whopping 55 hours before her parents annulled it. That was also the year Spears’s problems started to really get bad when she met backup dancer Kevin Federline. The two were engaged months after meeting and married months after getting engaged.

2005 was a relatively uneventful year for Spears as far as scandals go. She spent the better part of the year pregnant with the couple’s first son, whom she gave birth to in September. In February of 2006, paparazzi photographed her driving away with Sean Preston perched on her lap instead of securely fastened in a baby seat. Soon after, she was seen carrying him in one arm and a drink in the other, and almost tripping and dropping him in New York. The images spread like wildfire and the public started to tear into her about her competency as a mother. But in May, she announced that she was pregnant again while appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman.

In an effort to defend herself and quash rumors that she and K-Fed were having marital woes, Britney sat down with Matt Lauer for a Dateline interview, which aired in July 2006. It was a publicist’s nightmare. A pregnant and tearful Britney, sporting a denim cutoff skirt and pink tank top, looked disheveled and chewed gum throughout. Explaining the infamous photograph of Sean on her lap, she explained, “I did it with my dad. I’d sit on his lap and I drive. We’re country.” She described Kevin as an “awesome” husband and said, “He helps me. He has to. I’m (an) emotional wreck right now.” She clearly changed her mind after giving birth to Jayden James and filing for divorce from the backup dancer/wannabe rapper.

Her downward spiral only picked up momentum from there. Spears, who was now embroiled in a custody battle, started to take advantage of her newfound freedom and was regularly seen out with notorious party girls Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. Around this time, a crew of paparazzi began to follow her 24/7, chronicling every step of her downfall. The tabloids were plastered with photos of her leaning on Hilton looking out of shape, strung out and confused along with a fair share of upskirt shots sans underwear.

In February 2007, she checked into a rehab center only to leave the next day and turn up at a salon in Sherman Oaks asking for the hairdresser to shave her head. When the stylist refused, Britney reportedly grabbed the buzzer from her and started to shave it herself. The next day, she debuted her new look at a tattoo parlor where she had lips inked onto her wrist. A few days later, a bald Britney was photographed attacking a paparazzo’s car with an umbrella.

The next month became a revolving door of rehab stays and entourage changes. She checked into, out of, and back into rehab, finally completing a 30-day stay, and she fired her manager and her bodyguard before her publicist got fed up and quit. During that time, she posted an open letter on her website explaining her erratic behavior writing, “I truly hit rock bottom. Till this day I don't think that it was alcohol or depression. I was like a bad kid running around with ADD.”

But her bad behavior didn’t stop. In July she got into a fight with photographers outside of the Wynn in Las Vegas. Weeks later she was snapped driving without a valid California driver’s license, hitting a parked car and leaving the scene. In October, Federline was awarded temporary full custody of the kids while Britney was only allowed supervised visits and required to do random drug testing. A month later the custody battle heated up when, after a string of driving offenses, Britney was no longer allowed to drive with the children, and the court started investigations into abuse and neglect allegations against the embattled star.

In January 2008, the spectacle that had become her life culminated into a full-on mental break. Police arrived at Spears’s home in Studio City, where she had barricaded herself with her sons and refused to turn them over to Federline’s custody. She was taken to a hospital apparently under the influence of unknown substances and placed under involuntary psychiatric hold. Federline called an emergency custody hearing the next day where sole custody was granted to him and her visitation right were suspended.

It turned out to be her real rock bottom. Following the incident, a court granted her father, Jamie Spears, conservatorship over her, which essentially meant she couldn’t so much as go to the bathroom without his permission. But it was exactly what she needed to get her life back in order. She made a successful comeback with her sixth studio album Circus at the end of 2008, and although Federline still has sole custodial rights over her children, they split their time between the two parents.

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