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A Lesson from Britney Spears

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I clearly remember the first time I felt cool. It was 1998, and I was in the children’s wear section of Target with my mother. I had finally convinced her to buy me a purple midriff top and matching Capri pants. I looked up at my mother, grinned from ear to ear, and said, “Mum, now I can look just like Britney”.

If you were alive in the late nineties, you will know exactly what I mean. If you weren’t, you will wonder why on earth I would have wanted to look like Britney Spears in the first place, but let me explain.

Obviously, the whole English-Speaking world know who Britney Spears is. Simply by speaking the word ‘Britney’ one can evoke fear, disgust or excitement in a person, depending on who that person is and whether or not they are clinically sane. Having sold over 123 million records worldwide, and starred in an amazing hit movie, Britney Spears is unarguably one of the most famous popular culture icons in history.

Britney has been my idol since I can remember. For better or for worse, I still look to her for a source of inspiration. She has influenced the littlest of my decisions, from my first pair of platform shoes to my first real perfume purchase. I know that a lot of people think that Britney is just a bad influence with a bad haircut, And, you know what, maybe she is, but there is more to her than that. She’s still my idol. She has been for a while

My memories of the second grade revolve around the girls in my class trying to get away with tying our uniforms up to create a midriff, so we could be like Britney in her “Hit Me Baby One More Time” film clip. Back then, Britney exemplified the image of the sexy, confident teenage girl. As a seven-year-old, I wanted more than anything to be a teenager, and because of Britney, I really felt, at times, as if I was one. My ideas of teeangehood may have been very naive and simple, but so was the way Britney was portrayed, and I was happy with believing in it.

In my preteen years, the movie Crossroads came out. Yes, that one with the awful song about her not being either a girl or a woman. And while my friends and I always joked that if she wasn’t a girl or a women, then she must have been a boy, in the solace of my bedroom, that song gave me comfort as I understood exactly what she meant. Because, as I was soon to discover, being a teenager is hard.

And about the same time that I jumped into my teenage years, Britney seemed to crash and burn. As the public attention turned to her, Britney began to lash out and started to rebel. This Britney was more of a teenager than her marketing executives could ever have fashioned her to be. It was because of Britney that I understood that being a teenager was not just about showing off your body and having boyfriends. Because real teens make mistakes. Obviously the magnitude of these errors in judgment are not on the same scale as Britney’s. Most of us have not shaved our heads, or dropped our babies in public, or gotten married for a grand total of forty hours. But, I know that all of you, at some point during your teenage years, would have made mistakes. It’s unavoidable. It’s a part of growing up.

So what Britney has taught me, and so many more of her fans, is that screwing up is normal. It may not be treated that way by the general public, but that’s how I perceive it. Because I think that if we all stopped and thought for a moment, we’d understand that there’s a bit of Britney in all of us. There have been moments when we’ve wanted to go crazy and assault random guys carrying cameras, or marry some old friend in Vegas just for the heck of it. And sure, we don’t – but we can all live through this person that we are so exposed to.

It’s undeniable that Britney will leave a legacy on the world. Hopefully, not for a while. I believe she still has a lot to offer. But how Britney is remembered will be up to each individual to decide for themselves. Some may remember her as Justin’s girlfriend, some as the girl with the great midriff, some, as the screwed up alcoholic. As for me? I will remember her as the pop legend who taught me what it is to be a real person. She taught me that it’s okay to make mistakes. That being a teenager is about more than just the over-sexed idea that the public perceives.

There will always be that little bit of Britney in me. And, whether you’ll believe me or not, I think that it has helped me get through my teenage years alive. Maybe we could all take a lesson from Britney Spears.





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