Her Bad Mother

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Britney and Me

I have long believed that, when it comes to discourse on celebrity and celebrities, no holds are barred. High-minded proclamations of the sort that insist that they're people too, they deserve respect, privacy, etc, etc are, to my mind, entirely unconvincing: celebrities are not just like you and me, and they do not have an automatic right to privacy and respect. They're celebrities: it's their business to strut and fret their foibles upon the public stage. And if they embarass themselves - well, all the better for the rest of us, who do well to remember that celebrities are human-all-too-human, and flawed - sometimes very seriously so - and so not deserving of knee-jerk adulation simply because they're there. I respect that some people take the position that all celebrities should be treated nicely as a matter of course - it's a very nice position - but I don't really have any patience for it. If a celebrity's being a tard, then we should feel free to say so. And laugh about it. (Mockery of quote-unquote "masters" is as old as comedy itself for good reason: it's socially healthy for those with less power to laugh at those with more. Keeps differentials of power in proper perspective.)

All of this is a very long-winded way of defending the fact that I have taken my fair share of shots at Britney Spears. It's hard not to: the girl wanders around without pants, crashing cars and lamenting her lost career and prattling on and on about a comeback. The great Greek comic dramatist Aristophanes - and later, Plautus, and certainly Machiavelli and probably Shakespeare, too - would have had a field day with Britney: the comely girl turned goddess-of-sorts who falls from grace into a slatternly state of confusion (a kind of female Bottom, perhaps, minus the dalliance with fairies. Or a Poptart Gloriosus, of the sort that Plautus would have adored and pilloried). One almost wishes that she would stop being so ridiculous, so that she wouldn't be such an obvious target.

I have wished that, actually - that she'd stop being so ridiculous. She's a mom. I know from being a mom. Even if she has sixteen nannies - and I'm guessing that she has at least six - she's still under tremendous psychological pressure. A few years of pop superstardom can't prepare one for the mindf*ck that is new parenthood, let alone new new-parenthood-cum-single-parenthood. In the public eye - in the harsh, harsh glare of the public eye. But still: there's a baseline of dignity that one has to hang onto, however tenuously, once one becomes a parent. For our own sanity, and for the sake of the kids: parents need to keep it together, in some minimal way, at the very least. Staying groomed and upright, for starters. Not doing anything that's going to cause Child Services to pay you a visit. Not stuffing your post-partum, pre-Pilates body into a few scraps of satin and fishnet and tramping dully across a televised stage. That kind of thing.

I wish that Britney had stopped being so ridiculous before she got up in front of the VMA cameras, before she'd turned Puck on herself and stumbled and fumbled her way across that stage and made herself more of a laughingstock. But she didn't, and we are, most of us, laughing. And even though one might say that she asked for it, even though one might say that that's what she signed up for, way back when she was a Mouseketeer and aspiring pop tart and wanted celebrity so bad that she could taste it... even though one might say these things - even though I might say these things - the laughing and finger-pointing at Britney's VMA performance is making me a little sick to my stomach.

It's making me a little sick to my stomach because so much of it is directed at her unstageworthy physique, at her failure to regain her taut, poptart figure after having two children, at her insistence upon squeezing those dimply thighs into fishnet stockings. And it's not simply because I, personally, draw the line, in mocking celebrities, especially female celebrities, well short of the point of mocking or criticizing bodies (at least, the bodies that God gave them. The bodies that they buy are fair game. Oh, and David Caruso's body; that's fair game, too, for no good reason that I can think of. I've made fun of his legs.) It's partly that, of course - laughing at Britney for being a dimply size ten (eight? six?) after bearing two children is an insult to all women, everywhere, and to anyone who was borne of woman. It demeans all of us. But it's not that, in itself, that sickens me in the deepest part of my gut. It's mostly this: I look at those images of Britney stumbling self-consciously across the stage in that ridiculously skanky outfit and I see myself. And I cringe.

No, I don't see myself wearing that outfit, or grabbing some poor back-up dancer's crotch. I don't see myself desperately grasping for fame and adulation while shimmying awkwardly in fishnet stockings. But I do see - I have seen - myself, sometimes, desperately grasping for the girl that I used to be, the girl that I was before I became a mother. Mostly, it's an imagined grasping, but it's grasping nonetheless - it's me berating my reflection in the mirror for not having lost my pregnancy weight, it's me trying on clothes that would have suited me three years ago but are now too small and too hip and too not-me-at-all, it's me telling myself that thirty is the new twenty and forty the new thirty which makes me, like, twenty-something and not at all old and hey, I'm still up on the cool music and the cool clothes and see? Motherhood hasn't changed me at all!

There's a figurative satin-and-fishnet skank outfit in my psychic closet, and I have certainly pulled it out and tried to squeeze myself into it more than once. That I have not had to confront that image in all of its sordid glory - never mind parade it publicly - is my very good fortune, but still. It's there. It is there. It is.

So it is than when I click through on those videos playing and replaying and replaying again the footage of poor Britney wandering, sad and self-conscious and disoriented, through her VMA performance, I feel sad. Sad that she wasn't able to let go of some old dream of herself, some old, pathetic notion that she is and always will be girl. Sad that - from the looks of it - she woke up from that dream mid-stage, as the lights hit her and the music started and the elastic in her tiny satin panties cut into the ample flesh of her thighs and the giggles from the audience burned in her ears and she all of sudden knew. Not a girl, fully a woman - but a woman grasping desperately for the girl, and just not reaching her, not even close.

It makes me sad, because I've reached for the girl in me, the girl that I was - not so much to be her again, but to feel her, maybe. Understand her. Make her more a part of the woman that I am, whatever that means. And I've imagined, sometimes, that I've grazed her, with very tips of my fingers; that I've almost reached her; that I've come close to grasping that girl and integrating her with the woman that I've become and am becoming. That I've maybe, just maybe, preserved the girl inside the woman, and that maybe, just maybe, that girl will get the woman to fit into a smaller pair of skinny jeans.

And then I see Britney, and all I can think is: how ridiculous. How ridiculous, her. How ridiculous, me. How ridiculous, all of us who refuse to go gently into the good night of age and gravity and seriousness and dignity. How ridiculous, all of us who would fight the loss, mourn the loss, of the silly, beautiful girls and boys that we once were.

And how sad that we laugh at that, as if we none of us have fought that fight on the stages of our psyches, and lost, and mourned.

How very, very sad.

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80 Comments:

Blogger Kyla said...

There was a lot of good stuff in here, Catherine. A lot.

12:23 AM  
Blogger SUEB0B said...

We set them up, we knock them down...the way we treat celebrities must serve some deep-seated need in our culture. After all, isn't our main myth the myth of fall and redemption? And then Brit FAILED to redeem...gasp. Horror.

12:28 AM  
Anonymous Kate said...

I couldn't bring myself to watch anymore than the first few seconds. While I would love to look that good post children I wouldn't want to get up on stage with it all hanging out. I wouldn't do it because I have too much respect for myself and for my children's future, I completely understand where you are coming from and I didn't manage to laugh

12:28 AM  
Blogger Lady M said...

HBM - always eloquent. I wrote about this last night night, but only managed to express indignation that "they" dare call her fat. I think it also makes me uncomfortable to see her reaching for her past, because there are clearly moments when I do the same. It's just that I'm not in front of a lot of cameras when I do it (or usually not!). Thanks for saying it better than I could.

12:58 AM  
Blogger Whit said...

I don't find anything funny about her. I think it's sad. It's awful that K-fed is looking like the safe bet for her poor kids.

As for her weight. I think most people agree that she doesn't look bad, it's what she is trying to do with it that is the cause of ridicule.

If you're a size 10 at least wear size 10 underwear on stage, not size 4. It's embarrassing.

1:20 AM  
Anonymous Erin - ExpectingExecutive said...

Yep, I know exactly what you are talking about. Very nicely thought out. I appreciate your observations and opinions.

Erin
www.ExpectingExecutive.com

2:07 AM  
Anonymous mel from freak parade said...

Wow. I never even thought of it like that. I just turned 30, which was really not my idea of a good time. I am spending a whole lot of time reaching for that girl.

I felt sorry for Britney, actually. And I usually like a good laugh at a crazy celebrity's expense.

I can't believe your were able to take that fiasco and turn it into a thought-provoking post. I am in awe.

2:19 AM  
Blogger madamspud169 said...

I watched Britney & I found nothing even remotely funny or smile provoking in it. She did not look like the Britney we all remember, she looked scared, insecure & it must be said "out of control" as if she was drunk or on drugs. I thought she looked fantastic for a new mom it was just that she had obviously needed lots of drink / drugs to get herself on that stage which was what ruined it for her. Her inability to move around, dance & even lip synch correctly turned the whole thing into a shambles.
Why didn't her advisors / MTV talk some sense into her or not allow her to go on? It must have been obvious backstage that she wasn't right, wasn't ready for this. They shouldn't have let this happen.
MTV may have gotten some good viewing figures from the VMA's but they have lost any respect I had for them.

Sadly Britney didn't have a "comeback" at the VMA's all she did was give K-Fed more ammunition as to how unfit she is to be sole parent

4:22 AM  
Blogger Miscellaneous-Mum said...

I'm afraid she'll pull an Owen Wilson on us. Very afraid, actually.

And she mightn't be as lucky as Owen was.

5:16 AM  
Blogger rachel said...

I would bet money that she's wearing a size 6. We are so used to seeing a size 0 on stages, I think we've forgotten what a 6 looks like - it just looks too big. Which is to say, smaller than most of us.

Poor thing. I have been thinking about how much she needs some mothering right now.

7:38 AM  
Anonymous thordora said...

It's funny-back when she shaved her head, I couldn't help but agree with those saying "mental illness" and everyone pshawed it and just kept saying it's because she wants publicity, etc.

What I saw on that stage was scary and sad, for many of us. And the way some people are reacting to her-it's plain flat out disgusting. And why she couldn't try and be someone new instead of the person she was 4 years ago...

I've been blathering about it on my own site....it just keeps bothering me...

7:39 AM  
Blogger Delilah said...

Very eloquently expressed. Today I will be returning all of the clothes I bought just yesterday from the juniors department in Kohl's. After having baby #3 I find myself reaching for that girl.

7:42 AM  
Blogger Noe said...

My BFF called me last night to ask me about Britney and I said this to her: it's like we're all expecting to see a 20 year old girl, when she's not 'girl' anymore. I don't think i care too much about the way she looks, I do care what she's become in these past 2/3 years. She's a complete MESS and I do agree with you when you say 'how ridiculous'... She's trying to hard to go back to those days where all people would talk about where her abs, how she looked so good after 1000 crunches.
We change. All of us. We're not the ones we were 10 years ago.
Some of us still carry that little girl in us (I still wear junior tshirts) and we dont want her to let go.
May be she also doesnt want to let go.
Poor Britney.... :(

8:26 AM  
Blogger bubandpie said...

I've tried on those clothes, the ones that would have looked so good on me seven or eight years ago... My eyes are still singed.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

I thought the same thing when I saw the pictures. I wondered how many times I'd looked ridiculous and pranced about in teeny-bopper clothes and shoes. I thought of all the times I've lamented that my figure is so ample and determined to starve and tone it into a semblance of its former glory.

I am really glad I read your post. You are very wise.

8:43 AM  
Blogger kgirl said...

You are eloquent and thoughtful, but I'll never give Britney that much credit.

8:49 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Chicken said...

She is a Greek tragedy - that is the perfect metaphor. I, too, find it unbearably sad, and I fear that her children are already suffering the fallout from the damage she is inflicting on herself.

9:02 AM  
Blogger The Hotfessional said...

HBM - Thanks for the thoughtful writing on something & someone that has been far easy to laugh at recently.

I never understood the whole Britney phenom personally, but as I come to a particular part of my life, I wonder where the girl that was part of me went as well. And actually? I'm glad to let (most of) her go.

9:04 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Kgirl - I don't think that I'm giving her much credit at all. I don't imagine for a minute that there's any self-reflectivity going on in that well-weaved head. But she's been prompting some self-reflectivity in me, which maybe is sad, but there you go.

Mrs. Chicken - tragedy or comedy. Still not sure which. Both, I suppose.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Lisa Milton said...

"she all of sudden knew"

You hit it - that's how I felt watching her too.

I've felt that way when I've tried to strike up a conversation with, um, younger friends.

Thanks for the thoughtful post.

9:13 AM  
Anonymous GeekLady said...

I don't follow celebrities very much - they're boring unless they've done something stupid, and I don't want to support schaudenfreude so I just try to avoid it all together. I learned with Errol Flynn that finding out how big an ass someone is can really ruin some of your favorite movies.

But I couldn't avoid the fishnet photos - they were splashed over the homepages of news sites - and the catty comments really infuriated me. Not because she wasn't asking for them, but because of what they say about modern concepts of beauty.

She's had TWO kids and still has a better body than I do, and all they can do is trash her physique - it doesn't make a normal woman feel so good abut herself.

9:42 AM  
Anonymous verybadcat said...

I am just in awe of you. If I can ever, ever think and write on the level you do, or even get halfway there- it will have been a dream come true.

Since the very beginning of her career I have hated Britney with the heat of a bazillion suns. When she shaved her head, I made joyous noises. When I first read about this latest incident, I roared. I relished and reveled in her downfall. Can't say I still don't.... but I have just the smallest bit of sympathy for her now.

I still think maybe she's bipolar.

9:43 AM  
Anonymous Tina C said...

I cope this way: i try to joyfully say good-bye to the warrior/maiden period of my life/body, as i've entered the mother/earth stage. so before i get to the crone stage, i'm trying to embrace this stage and body shape, knowing that you can't go back to warrior/maiden after getting to the mother stage. it sounds dorky written up this way, but it has actually helped me to throw away a lot of those clothes more appropriate for that previous stage...

9:48 AM  
Anonymous dana said...

Brilliant post, Catherine. It's so honest. So true.

I can still remember watching Briteny on the Mickey Mouse Club after school (I was in junior high) and I adored her.

I look at her now and wish she would just be smarter and wiser about her public persona.

I feel sorry for her. Maybe because she has no role model to look up to -- especially when so many young girls look up to her!

9:59 AM  
Blogger The City Gal said...

I have always loved HBM and her writing, but I have to disagree this time.

Mainly because HBM cannot and should not compare Britney's situation with her own.

First of all, Britney is 25 (I think) and we all know, 25 is like 15 for the previous generation. Losing your dream at 25 is tough!

Becoming is mother is not like a magic "maturing" pill that you take over night. She is 25 and she should be judged like all crazy stupid 25-yr olds like Nicole Richie.

Britney was famous, she had a career that should have lasted for a few more decades to come (how old is Cher now?) but she got married, got preganant, twice!

Britney lost a husband, lost a dream and gained weight and the custody of two small children at the age of 25. That would drive any sane person crazy, let alone a wild girl (we know the type in Hollywood) like Britney.

Most of us made a satisfying career for ourselves before choosing to have a child. And most of us can get back to that career (eventhough difficult) after becoming a mother.

We do not understand Britney.

I feel sad for her too. She is still a child herself. A child that has lost her dream too soon.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I've been trying to put my finger on what was so upsetting about this and you nailed it.

Thanks.

10:09 AM  
Blogger Amelia said...

I've been reading for months, but this is my first comment. A truly exceptional post. Thank you.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Binkytown said...

Perfectly sad. I have yet to feel sad for her before this performance. There was something about the moaning and the shimmying that made me think, oh girl, do you really think that's all there is to being appreciated as a woman? At all of 25 I'm sure that's all she knows. The only positive reinforcement she's probably ever have has been a result of her gyrations.

After what you wrote I have more empathy for her than I did before. I wish you could get a copy of this into the hands of her sixteen nannys so hopefully she could see it.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Tracey said...

I haven't seen the VMAs yet, but I can only imagine. Oy. One would think, that with all that's going on in her life and the lives of her children, that she wouldn't try to give the public anything else to use against her.

I find it sad that people can't realize that a woman's body is SUPPOSED to change. And that the body she had before 2 babies is GOING to be different. How could it not? Also, how could she wear something that would make her look anything less than classy? Wouldn't now be a good time to go for class instead of sleaze?

10:43 AM  
Blogger Tracey said...

I haven't seen the VMAs yet, but I can only imagine. Oy. One would think, that with all that's going on in her life and the lives of her children, that she wouldn't try to give the public anything else to use against her.

I find it sad that people can't realize that a woman's body is SUPPOSED to change. And that the body she had before 2 babies is GOING to be different. How could it not? Also, how could she wear something that would make her look anything less than classy? Wouldn't now be a good time to go for class instead of sleaze?

10:43 AM  
Blogger nomotherearth said...

I did think she was on drugs, which is sad and inexcusable. I think that's fair game for mockery (despite what psychological issues may have lead to it).

I also thought she looked heave FOR BRITNEY - the Britney we used to know. For a mom of two, she looked pretty freakin' great. It's her stylist that should be fired.

It's the sight of those two chubby faces - her babies - with all their wide-eyed innocence, their Britney-that-was innocence, that makes me really sad.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This cult of the celebrity culture is really, at heart, a mirror of our own insecurities, fears, dreams, envies. We desire them when beautiful, wealthy, young and desirable; an impeccable picture. We castigate them when withered, and wrecked or when young and reckless. What we see is ourselves: How we were; how we might wish to be; how we are.

Their beauty seems to shine so resplendent, their foibles, and follies seem almost freakishly surreal. And while we either congratulate or cringe, the questions remains:

How many of us would stand up, pristine and perfect, against the glaring eye of public examination, the photographer's intrusively implacable lens?

I wouldn't.

As you've mentioned here, we are all Britneys: Young and beautiful triumphing and accomplishing, but also, desparately human, paunchy and real.

My mother-in-law passed away a while ago, known mostly to a small, intimate circle of friends and family. And while she, like Britney now and in the future, like us all, will, as Hamlet says, "bear the whips and scorns of time," she was judged, as a common woman so kindly, freed from ever having to be crystallized forever at twenty; young and beautiful.

And this is how, in true Machiavellian fashion, we're all duped:

"The great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they are realities, and are often influenced by the things that seem than by those that are."

11:09 AM  
Blogger NotSoSage said...

Joe and I - who never discuss celebrities, ever - had a discussion about this last night because I was just so appalled by the treatment of her in the press. I actually watched a video of the performance and agree that it was terrible, but not because of her body or the outfit or anything except that she was not THERE. She was not performing. I actually don't get what everyone's saying about her body or the outfit. And I get frustrated when - on the one hand - celebrities are blamed for young girls' anorexia and - on the other - are chastised for not having the same body after two babies in two years, legal and family troubles and addiction. Who's to blame?

As for your reflectiveness in this post. It's beautiful. I wonder why it's so easy for us to accept that our lives will never be the same post-baby and yet so hard to imagine that we - be it our bodies or our notions of self - will stay the same.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Phoenix said...

Here, here.

It makes me so sad to watch her. One day she's grow up and get her head on straight. But by then she'll have lost her babies and have no career.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Jenifer said...

I guess I missed all the hubbub about the outfit and her body, it was her performance that was so vacant. She was just not there at all, in mind or body. For the record I think she looks pretty good.

It is very sad and the ultimate victims are her boys...for that I am very sad.

11:24 AM  
Anonymous rachel said...

excellent post. I think my favorite post of yours so far because I am feeling it.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Avalon said...

I actually don't feel anything at all about this situation. I find it difficult to muster up honest feelings for people I don't know........identities that have been created by a hungry press and an even hungrier population simply obsessed with this type of sensationalistic fodder. In all actuality, who is smarter than Britney and her managers/agents/staff? They now have her name splashed across every single newspaper, magazine, TV exploitation show......and now, dozens of Blogs. I would say they got exactly what they hoped for.

11:43 AM  
Blogger painted maypole said...

this is fantastic, and I appreciate the parrellels you draw between Britney and US as we struggle to reconcile who we think we are and want to be, with who we really are. And why we feel the need to be this something else, and not what we are.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

Catherine, this is uncanny. I was having thoughts along these lines about Britney just last night.
Very well said.

12:30 PM  
Blogger Julie Pippert said...

Catherine,

Very eloquent, and I like how you captured that difficulty of reconciling our own postpartum and aging bodies.

This Britney talk reminds me of that "Tyra Banks is fat" thing that set me off to a major rant that ultimately landed on BlogHer LOL. Hmm wtf am I thinking? I ought to write a follow-up.

Except I decided not to.

I looked at photos (did not see the show).

I don't care for the style, wouldn't wear it...but she's 25 and just had two kids and...looks fantastic to me.

It's PAINFUL to have just spent so much time trying to get to a body that is the right size for health and still hear people REVILING someone younger, smaller, fitter.

After all my hard body work I am wearing clothes I ought to have worn a dozen years ago when I was a hottie 25 year old but lacked the confidence to do so. Frump is what I wore when I was insecure and fat.

I'm not insecure, now. I'm not fat any more.

Neither is Britney.

Critique the performance...sure. Talk about the craziness.

But oh my stars I am sooooo tired of looking at a size 6 or 8 person and seeing "fat" and "old gray mare ain't what she used to be."

We have so lost perspective here.

Thanks for tackling this topic, Catherine. :) I'm so glad to hear some intelligent voices picking it up.

Julie
Using My Words

2:00 PM  
Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Even if we're all just projecting our own lost youth onto Britney, you've certainly given us something to think about, Catherine. I've wanted that person back before too. It's hard to accept that a certain stage of your life is over, even if the stage you're in is even better. Sometimes it's hard to see that. For Britney, it seems to be particularly hard since her career and her fame was based on so much pomp and circumstance. The fluff, not the substance (if there is any).

2:28 PM  
Anonymous mothergoosemouse said...

You have articulated my feelings so perfectly that I have nothing else to add, except BRAVA.

3:09 PM  
Anonymous pinks & Blues Girls said...

The whole time I watched her performance live, my mouth was agape, and my husband and I just kept looking at each other like, "Is she for real?"

Should she have worn that outfit? No. Noooo. But does she deserve to have her body ridiculed? No way. She didn't look like se did 6 years ago, but I still would say she has a pretty rockin' body.

I just wish she'd get her head straight, accept the help she clearly needs and go far away to raise her boys where they can have a normal life. Because those boys are going to be pretty f-ed up if she doesn't.

Great post.

Jane. Pinks & Blues

3:09 PM  
Blogger Mitzi Green said...

it goes against the grain of human nature to revere age and maturity. which is why we all reach, and we all mourn, and some of us never come to terms with the "loss."

i've only recently--very, very recently--determined how much happier and well-adjusted and (dare i say it) sane i am now than i was 15, 10, even 5 years ago--and begun to realize i'm not missing a goddamn thing. i may no longer be a size 4, but i don't drink and cry myself to sleep every night, either.

3:33 PM  
Blogger Mitzi Green said...

**meant that to say "i don't drink and cry myself to sleep every night ANYMORE either."

you knew what i meant.

3:34 PM  
Blogger Gwen said...

Maybe I need to go re-examine my wardrobe (should the fishnets stay or go?) ....

This is good stuff. And I worry, because I feel like I'm finally getting comfortable with my almost 40 body, but will I have to do it all over again at 50? and 60? Aging gracefully--that's a tough one.

3:55 PM  
Blogger PDX Mama said...

Great post. It was all kind of sad, I think she's just in a bad place and is having a hard time keeping it all together. The outfit wasn't the most flattering for her, but damn, I wish I looked like that after 2 kids!

Did you hear what Kanye said about MTV exploiting Britney? He says a lot of crazy a$% stuff, but I think I almost agree with him on that point. They hyped up that opening so much and asked nearly every star at the VMAs before hand whether they were excited to see her (oops, did I just admit that I actually watched all of it?).

As for the larger issue - yes, how can we better accept the changes that come with age? Isn't it natural we mourn it a bit? And at the same time - isn't it pathetic that we waste energy mourning the physical changes?

It's complicated.

4:41 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

It does just make me sad, it really does. It's just so clear that she simply does not get it. Doesn't get that she's not the girl she once was, doesn't get that people are looking for her to fail, doesn't get that the bar for her is WAY high, far higher than it ever has been before, because she has to kick ass hard enough to also kick aside all those other moments, to blast them right out of our minds with the power of a single performance. It was almost certainly doomed, and I'm sad to see it. I was pulling for her to carry it off, because I think she's been trying, but she really didn't get that halfway wasn't going to be enough.

And you're right, too, that much of the criticism was about her shape, an issue which hasn't stopped Kelly Clarkson from geeting acclaim because she doesn't try to pull off outfits that don't flatter. And while Brit has clearly worked hard - let's face it, she does look pretty good for a mother of two - she may never have the abs she once did after two c-sections, so trying to recreate her old stage look might not be her best move here.

Sigh. Poor kid. I think she needs a friend, I really do.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Tuesday Girl said...

She is struggling, like we all do. I am glad it is not me who is that famous and have to do it in front of everyone.

5:28 PM  
Blogger crazymumma said...

I have this hope that she will come into herself and look back on these times as, well. Forgivable.

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

its sad to watch her unravel like she is in the public eye.its a poor reflection on us as a society to be watching her very public breakdown.her poor children what is this going to do to them.and as for her body she looks terrific.its not unusual to want the young girl you used to be but you have to love the mature mother that you have become and i for one rejoice in my maturing self. very thoughtfully and kindly expressed as always catherine..LAVENDULA

7:31 PM  
Blogger Veronica Mitchell said...

You put it so well.

I find myself feeling pity for her (or for the me in her), and simultaneously wanting to shake her by her shoulders and shout "You have kids! Straighten the #$% up!"

9:13 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Chicky said...

I've felt like Britney more times than I care to remember. Every time I've left the house in an outfit that seemed like a good idea when I put it on but clearly wasn't when I caught sight of myself in a store mirror.

9:38 PM  
Blogger Lisa b said...

I've decided that the girl I think I was is a cooler version of the girl I actually was. On this revelation I have decided only to go forward as the girl that I now am.
Besides if I look back that flabby ass gets in the way.

9:57 PM  
Blogger Girl con Queso said...

This is why I love you.

10:17 PM  
Blogger Alpha DogMa said...

Mental illness. That's my line. I draw my line of snark and mockery when it becomes apparent that a celebrity is mentality ill. Being merely dumb, addicted or generally redunkulous is no excuse for kid gloves.

This woman (aged 25 with 2 kids and 2 ex-husbands means she is no longer a 'girl') is ill. She needs serious help. She doesn't need to be exploited by her handlers and MTV for this bit of public humiliation.

When she gets a grip and gets help - I'll start the mockery again.

12:42 AM  
Blogger GIRL'S GONE CHILD said...

This was beautiful. I posted about Brit today, too, but more on celebrity culture as a whole and how hard false idols can fall.

1:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From a woman who's still navigating that transition to wearing grownup clothes and being Serious (just graduated college), thanks for the reminder that one day I'll want to cherish the Girl. Right now she just embarasses me.

8:54 AM  
Anonymous Don Mills Diva said...

I could not love this post more. Thanks.

10:14 AM  
Anonymous dorothy said...

this is the best discussion I've seen on this topic - well said!

11:28 AM  
Blogger Hannah said...

You've put into words the disquiet that's been swirling in my brain since this whole debacle hit. Who among us hasn't reached for the pre-mom gal inside? This is my first visit but it won't be my last. Thanks for a great post.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Beck said...

Beautifully put. I can't even bear to watch the posted-everywhere clips of her bumbling around the stage.

1:21 PM  
Blogger m said...

I've never liked Britney and I didn't see the clip, but her whole situation makes me so sad. This is a girl who has only known fame and the spotlight. She knows no 'normal' life. She has no real friends because of it, no one to pull her aside, give her a cup of tea, and let her cry her heart out.

She is constantly being set up by the media and she allows herself to be because she doesn't know any different, any other way.

What I really think is going on is she's suffering from some major post-partum depression. She needs to be taken away and taken care of, not only for her own sake, but for that of her boys.

2:21 PM  
Blogger Heather B. said...

Damn it, Catherine. Stop being so smart and eloquent!

You're making me "Is that a dance move or a random twitch" comment so much more lame than it already was.

As always superb points and full of things that make you go 'hmm'.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Mardougrrl said...

Brilliant. brilliant post...I've been deeply uncomfortable with the gleeful Britney bashing, but didn't make this connection. I have definitely caught myself straining to reconnect to some earlier, younger version of myself, and it's so painful when you just see...that person is gone.

10:01 PM  
Blogger Motherhood Uncensored said...

I've never actually bashed her -- mainly because she gets her fair share and I'd much rather make fun of people who wear crocs.

I say, run naked for God sakes, but just don't wear those shoes.

In all honesty, we've got to remember that she is someone's mother. I just wish other folks out there would remember that to.

11:05 PM  
Blogger Major Bedhead said...

I never thought I'd say this, but I felt sorry for Britney at those awards. I've never enjoyed seeing someone be publicly embarrassed and that was public embarrassment on a grand scale. She just looks so lost all the time.

I have a hard time accepting that I'm never going to look like I did when I was 21. I'd imagine for someone like Britney, it's exponentially more difficult. She's, what? 25? 26? She's had two kids and a trainwreck of a life over the last couple of years and is probably wondering what the hell happened. For someone who is only ever fawned over and never given the straight dope about anything, her coping skills must be minimal.

I did find myself thinking "Damn, she looks good, she looks real, not like an airbrushed pop princess." It's just too bad she can't embrace her new, softer, curvier body because she could look fantastic. Not, however, when she's squashed into a too-tight bra and panties set and fishnet stockings.

8:12 AM  
Blogger Sarcastica said...

I felt sorry for Britney too at those awards. You are completely right, she does need to let go of the girl she was and become the woman she is. You know, I think she'd be a lot less crazy if she didn't hold on to that so tightly. Maybe if she matured her style a little...changed the way people thought of her music...then she would be a lot more successful in a comeback.

9:05 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

There may be another comment to this effect, and if so I apologize for the redundancy.

I'm not a fan of Britney, or really any of the ultra poppy trainwreck stars. I could really care less what she does or doesn't do or wear.
But I take offense at the fact that everyone is up in arms about her being "fat" or "dumpy" or whatever you want to call it.
She's not. She looks better than 99% of the women in our society. At five months post partum, I'd love to look like Britney. And the fact that everyone agrees that she's "fat or what have you, just perpetuates the ideas about body image that women like you and I hate. The ideas that you are going to work so hard to not put into your own daughter's head.
As for the rest of your post, I totally agree and feel what you are saying. It's an adjustment of motherhood that I never saw coming.

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Leah said...

Jeezopete, Catherine. You've said it all.

6:50 PM  
Blogger SoundHunter said...

So wonderfully written. Had me wincing while knowing exactly what you mean. Did you hear Tori Amo's live song about Britney? Also wonderfully written, I think you'd appreciate it.

http://perezhilton.com/?p=5463

12:31 AM  
Blogger creative-type dad said...

Very interesting.

In a way, I do feel sorry for her. These people don't know how to let go and always try to hold onto an image no matter how silly they may look. It's sad

1:27 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

You have just done what no one else could - finally made me hit You Tube to seek out the performance in question. And it is indeed sad.

This may also be the first time Britney was mentioned along with Aristophanes and Plautus.

10:07 AM  
Anonymous coffee queen said...

Powerful post. I'm so glad that people are beginning to see Britney for what she represents about our culture, not just as a laughing stock.

11:51 AM  
Blogger Karen MEG said...

An extremely insightful post as usual. It made me think... at first I was so quick to judge her, but then I realized that she is part of a machine, a lot of people are relying on her the "Britney company" and she may not have the keenest advisors, at least not any that are unbiased, and who really care about her as a person. Where are her frickin' parents and family in her mess of a life? I hope things get better for her, as she's got two young ones to consider now too. Money can't buy everything.

9:02 PM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

I've read so many reviews of Britney as of late, but none of them made the lightbulb go off in my head like this one. Very interesting way to look at her situation.

God, I wish she would scoop up those beautiful boys of hers and run away from the stage, the photographers, the press. . .

9:59 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

I feel so, so sorry for her. Maybe I shouldn't, she's had her time in the light, all the money in the world, a mess of terrible decisions, decisions that have stripped her of her carreer, her husband, her family, perhaps soon her children.

When I watched her, up there, on stage, I couldn't help but think of my own two beautiful boys. I hope they have passion, like she did, for whatever lives they choose. But I hope that I have enough strength, to hold them, to help them find themselves, before they search for themselves somewhere else.

Does Britney even know who she is?...words from her own song, that keep pulling at me...

"And they say she's so lucky, she's a star but she cries cries cries in the lonely dark thinkin, if theres nothin, missin in my life then why do these tears come at night."

I hope, pray, she finds herself. Away from the lights and the fame and the torture us curious have put her through. She needs too, before she kills herself.

10:29 PM  
Blogger Jen M. said...

You managed to write the best post ever about Britney. How ridiculous, indeed (I say this hypocritically, since I do mourn the loss of my girlish self, but I hate that I do). And you are so right - celebrities are different - for the very reasons you gave.

Such a great post! Meaty!

6:45 PM  
Blogger House Frau said...

Well said, I have been thinking some of the same things this past week. I don't care for Britney but I totally relate to her as a mom, and I think she looks great. Most moms I know would be elated to have her body and the press is acting like she is a pig. It is so sad how the press expects all women to be twigs...

10:12 AM  
Blogger tiffany said...

this is the most beautiful thing i've read in a long time.
thank you.
really.

12:19 AM  

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