Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass students react to Britney Spears being freed from her 13 year-long conservatorship

Spears is now released from her father’s control over financial and medical decisions after long battle for independence
CWO4(FMF) Seth Rossman
Seth Rossman / Public Use

After 13 years, Britney Spears was released from her conservatorship on Friday, Nov. 12. The conservatorship sparked conversation over mental health as the termination proceeded.

Spears was placed under conservatorship of her father, Jamie Spears, in 2008 following mental health hospitalization. Much of Spears’ issues were aired through the public eye, such as her divorce from ex-husband Kevin Federline.

Spears began to speak out about the trauma she endured through her then-active conservatorship in the summer of 2021. The case gained much attention from fans and media, most popularly using the hashtag #FreeBritney to spread awareness about Spears’ lack of freedom and autonomy.

Ellen ODonnell, a sophomore psychology major, explained how she found out about Britneys conservatorship over TikTok. Her TikToks would pop up on my feed. And they were so weird. She couldn’t respond to comments,” ODonnell said. She really had no control over TikTok except to get in front of the camera and do something. And so that actually was my first thing. I was like, This is so weird to watch.’ And then all the comments were talking about the conservatorship.”

The conservatorship contained two sectors, one being finances and the other as person. Spears Sr., her conservator of both categories, had complete control over his daughters financial, medical and social life. Spears, who recently stated that she wanted to have another child, even mentioned that her conservator denied her request of weaning off birth control and having her IUD removed.

Its demoralizing what Ive been through,” Spears stated in her June 2021 hearing. Spears and her lawyer, Mathew Rosengart fought to end her conservatorship spanning from Britneys ages of about 27 to 39.

After Spears Sr. faced health issues in September 2019, he was suspended as conservator of Spears’ person. Jodi Montgomery was then temporarily put in place of Spears Sr. In Sept. 2021, Spears Sr. was suspended from his daughters estate to which John Zabel, a financial consultant, replaced Spears Sr. as the temporary conservator of her estate.

Lucy Wainger, a teaching associate, explained that the conservatorship was harmful to Spears’ independence. Wainger continued, adding that such a hindrance on Spears’ autonomy further perpetuates the stigmatization of mental illness, and how individuals struggling with mental health can be stereotyped as incapable of living unattended.

I think it’s really easy to dismiss the agency of people who suffer specifically from mental illness because those illnesses can affect your thinking, your choices, maybe act in, irrational ways.’ And so, it ends up being really easy to just completely erase the agency and, the control over one’s life that someone with a mental illness has, and I hope that this case, kind of makes people rethink that,” Wainger said.

Spears shocked the world with her 2007 meltdown. Wainger explained how Spears’ shaving her head was astonishing. And then finding out about the conservatorship kind of brought it home…that like, Oh, this is a serious thing that’s going on, like someone’s suffering, from illness and then on top of that, this abusive situation is happening to her.” Wainger continued, She had this crazy girl image and was kind of like the butt of a lot of jokes. And in my mind, I definitely didn’t take it seriously.”

Many fans from younger generations resonate with Spears and her music. The songs Toxic,” “Baby One More Time” and Oops, I Did It Again” were among her top hits in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

I’ve always loved Britney, and I always loved her music,” ODonnell said. And I just remember being little and seeing the shaved head, and I didn’t know anything about it.”

Once Spears was released from the conservatorship, she tweetedGood God I love my fans so much its crazy !!! I think Im gonna cry the rest of the day !!!! Best day ever … praise the Lord … can I get an Amen ???? #FreedBritney,” with an attached video of her fans celebrating outside of the Los Angeles Courthouse, waving Free Britney” signs and pink confetti filling the air as someone jubilantly shouts through a megaphone, The conservatorship is terminated!”

The outpouring of support has brought awareness and support to mental health.

I think it should have been a long time ago, but I’m happy for her. And I feel like she’ll be able to do a lot with her life now,” ODonnell said.

Liesel Nygard can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @LieselNygard. Caitlin Reardon can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @caitlinjreardon.

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