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Spears’ struggles raise concern among fans

Erin McGinn | Thursday, February 22, 2007

Nine years ago, no one would have thought that Britney Spears – the former Mouseketeer – would be on the brink of total breakdown.

Along with fellow Mouseketeer alums Justin Timberlake, J.C. Chasez and Christina Aguilera, Britney burst onto the late nineties pop scene with near-instant success. She was quickly dubbed a princess of pop and experienced an un-precedented level of growth in popularity with her albums “… Baby One More Time,” “Oops! … I Did It Again” and “Britney.”

Starting in 1998, America swooned over the young love between Britney and Justin. Too good to be true, their four-year relationship fell apart in 2002, and Britney’s slow but steady derailment began soon thereafter.

Although she continued in her music career, recording “In the Zone,” she also did things that the “… Baby One More Time” Britney never would have dreamed of. In 2003, a newer, edgier Britney kissed pop icon Madonna on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards. She shocked the world in 2004 when she married her childhood sweetheart Jason Alexander in a spontaneous ceremony at the Little White Wedding Chapel in Vegas – a union that was annulled less than 55 hours later. America started to worry about their pop princess.

She was still all right, though – fans believed that Brit could still get her life back on track. The down-home heroine of teenage girls across the States, who prided herself on her wholesome image and fiercely maintained her alleged virginity, had once been at the height of popularity. Brit certainly wasn’t the first celebrity to think that an ill-fated Vegas wedding was a smart idea, and most fans seemed willing to excuse her antics with the hope that she might return to top form.

Enter K-Fed.

Apparently seeking the polar opposite of Justin, Britney began her ill-fated relationship with her back-up dancer, Kevin Federline. She was engaged only six months after her overnight wedding mistake, and eight months later she was married … again. Her tumble from her prominent place in the eyes of the public picked up speed.

Britney abandoned her music career in favor of starting a family. Her hubby had gotten a head start on her with one child – and another baby on the way – with actress Shar Jackson. Britney and Kevin, in light of fellow celebrity couple Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson’s success, decided to star in their own reality show on MTV in 2005, “Britney and Kevin: Chaotic,” which ended after five episodes. Later that year, Britney gave birth to her first child, Sean Preston.

It didn’t take long for Britney to sink into controversy over her parenting skills, with tabloid pictures of her driving with her infant son sitting in her lap beginning to surface. She used the plea that she grew up in the country to defend her actions, arguing that she was a good mother in an interview with Matt Lauer.

A year later she gave birth to her second son, Jayden James, and only a couple of months after his birth, Britney and Kevin filed for divorce in November of 2006.

Three months later, the princess of pop seemingly fell off the brink of sanity. A week ago, Britney checked in and out of rehab in less than 24 hours. The next day she walked into a hair salon and asked to have her head shaved. After employees refused, she went to the back of the salon and shaved it herself (if you have a million dollars, you can buy some of her hair on buybritneyshair.com). Britney has recently been spotted in a heinous, ill-fitting blonde wig. She even tried rehab again – for 24 more hours.

The latest rumor is that she shaved her head in a panicked move to avoid drug testing threatened by K-Fed in order to gain custody of their two sons. In response to Kevin’s allegations, Britney must remain in rehab for at least 30 days to retain custody of her children. Prior to her entering rehab, there were photos taken of her beating on K-Fed’s SUV with an umbrella.

To both fans and critics alike, there appears to be something justifiably wrong with poor Britney Spears. Unfortunately for her, her cries for help are becoming little more than tabloid fodder.

Contact Erin McGinn at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.