Britney Spears‘ memoir, The Woman In Me, hits shelves next week on October 24, and she’s promised a no-holds-barred narrative for her fans.
“It is finally time for me to raise my voice and speak out, and my fans deserve to hear it directly from me,” she told People via email. “No more conspiracy, no more lies—just me owning my past, present, and future.”
Though she admitted that having control of her own life following the 13-year legal conservatorship that ended in 2021 is “challenging at times,” Spears told the magazine, she’s finally ready to speak her truth. “After getting out of my conservatorship, I was finally free to tell my story without consequences from the people in charge of my life.”
In a series of short excerpts from the memoir, the audiobook of which will be read by Oscar-nominated actor Michelle Williams, Spears described what may have been her first kiss with future flame Justin Timberlake, then her Mousketeers co-star (“at a sleepover, we played Truth or Dare, and someone dared Justin to kiss me. A Janet Jackson song was playing in the background as he leaned in and kissed me”) and drinking daquiris with her mother as an eighth grader (“We called our cocktails ‘toddies,’” she writes. “I loved that I was able to drink with my mom every now and then. The way we drank was nothing like how my father did it. When he drank, he grew more depressed and shut down. We became happier, more alive and adventurous”).
The excerpts also revealed her inner monologue during times the world was watching, like her infamous performance of “I’m a Slave 4 U” at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards, writhing onstage with a Burmese python draped over her shoulders. The snake was “more terrifying than it appeared,” she wrote. “All I knew was to look down, because I felt if I looked up and caught its eye, it would kill me.”
Even without making reptilian eye contact, Spears writes that her animal co-star scared the bejeezus out of her.
“What nobody knows is that as I was singing, the snake brought its head right around to my face, right up to me, and started hissing,” she wrote. “I was thinking, Are you fucking serious right now? The fucking goddamn snake’s tongue is flicking out at me. Right. Now. Finally, I got to the part where I handed it back, thank God.”
And, of course, she shares details about what was going through her head during the conservatorship that gave her family legal, financial, and physical control over her life.
“I didn’t deserve what my family did to me,” she writes. Before the conservatorship, she’d rebelled, straining against the confines of superstardom and public criticism. “Shaving my head and acting out were my ways of pushing back. But under the conservatorship I was made to understand that those days were now over. I had to grow my hair out and get back into shape. I had to go to bed early and take whatever medication they told me to take.”
She said that her father, Jamie Spears, would criticize her constantly: “He repeatedly told me I looked fat and that I was going to have to do something about it.”
In contrast to the joy and drive she felt when recording her early albums, Spears said, “The conservatorship stripped me of my womanhood, made me into a child. I became more of an entity than a person onstage. I had always felt music in my bones and my blood; they stole that from me.”
Vanity Fair has reached out to Spears’s representatives for comment.