After more than 10 years under the conservatorship of her father, Jamie, Britney Spears has been appointed a new conservator.
This comes after widespread controversy following a difficult August for the Spears family. Over the summer, Jamie fell ill—and was put under a restraining order after he apparently attacked his 13-year-old grandson, Sean Federline. Jamie is undergoing a criminal investigation and has been banned from seeing his grandsons for the next two years.
As of this morning, Britney has been appointed a new interim conservator, named Jodi Montgomery.
An experienced fiduciary worker, Montgomery has already been working with Britney in the context of a different role—her care manager. Previously, Montgomery was responsible for communicating with Spears' healthcare professionals. Now, she will be in charge of hiring security and caretakers for Spears, as well as managing restraining orders and health records. Her appointment will run through 2020, but it could become permanent if Jamie fails to regain his role when Montgomery's time is up.
What is a conservatorship?
A typical conservatorship is defined as a legal scenario where a "guardian or a protector is appointed by a judge to manage the financial affairs and/or daily life of another due to physical or mental limitations, or old age." In Britney's case, she was appointed a conservator after her public breakdown in 2007.
The specific details of the conservatorship have not been made public, but we do know that conservators control the financial and personal decisions of the conservatee. However, conservators are not allowed to force drugs or mental health residencies on anyone.
Why does Britney Spears need a conservatorship?
In addition to being one of the biggest stars of the 21st century, Britney has struggled with mental health issues for years. According to TMZ, Britney requires a conservatorship because of health issues that "prevent her from making sound decisions." Spears has a "disorder affecting her personality that can affect her state of mind," the article reports. "We're told she is doing 'extremely well' but needs the safety net of a conservatorship." There is no clear consensus on what mental health issues Britney has, but we do know that she is on a cocktail of medications designed particularly for her. A change in these medications may have resulted in her April 2019 hospitalization, which sparked a new firestorm of speculation about Britney's autonomy and well-being.
What is the #FreeBritney movement?
The #FreeBritney movement began in 2017, when a podcast called Britney's Gram began investigating suspicious incidents around Britney's social media presence, speculating that Britney was somehow being held against her will. Apparently, they received a call from an anonymous source who said, "You guys are onto something."
The movement really took off after Spears canceled her Las Vegas residency in January 2019, and soon after, her father was appointed sole conservator. Then she checked herself into a mental health facility due to the stress from her father's illness. The podcasters continued to speculate, and the hashtag #FreeBritney took off.
Britney eventually slammed rumors that she was being held there against her will. She posted a video on Instagram with the caption, "My situation is unique but I promise I'm doing what is best at this moment." She also asked that fans respect her privacy as she "[deals] with all the hard things life is throwing [her] way."
Since then, the hashtag and movement itself have faced criticism from people who have defended Britney's personal life and privacy, as well as those who have lambasted #FreeBritney as a mental healthcare-shaming movement.
Bottom Line: It's not for us to say
Ultimately, though it's tempting to think that Britney is being imprisoned against her will and that she needs us to free her, it's important to remember that we collectively need to stop stigmatizing mental health services, especially when they're put in place for someone's own safety and well-being.
There's nothing wrong with needing long-term healthcare or with allowing others to take charge and advise us. For someone like Britney, who was thrown into the public eye at a young age and who has faced endless harassment and traumatic experiences with her family, it's totally understandable that she might require assistance. Though our highly individualistic culture may tell us otherwise, there's nothing wrong with getting help, and having professional assistance is not a sign of weakness.
On the other hand, none of us actually know what's best for Britney Spears. Maybe Chris Crocker was onto something all along.
Leave Britney Alone (Complete) www.youtube.com
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