Why Did Britney Spears Shave Her Head in 2007?

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Woman in Me" by Britney Spears. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Why did Britney Spears shave her head? How did her divorce from Kevin Federline lead to this event?

In 2007, Britney Spears shocked the world by shaving her head. Years later, she reveals in her memoir, The Woman in Me, the true reason why she changed her image, and it’s all due to her love for her children.

Continue reading to learn more about this decision that changed Spears’s image forever.

Spears Versus Federline

Why did Britney Spears shave her head? The answer stems back to Spears’s marriage to Kevin Federline. Spears feels that she ignored the warning signs that Federline was pushing her away. She supported his ambition as an aspiring rapper, but once he started recording his album, he refused to see her. After their second son was born, Spears tried to find comfort in raising her children, but, although she didn’t realize it at the time, she was experiencing postpartum depression. Because of Federline’s extended absence and the never-ending pressure from the paparazzi, Spears had no consistent emotional support. Her only escape was the recording studio, where she produced her album Blackout, one of her favorites to this day.

With her marriage seemingly doomed, Spears’s attorney advised her to file for divorce before Federline did. Supposedly, this would spare her the humiliation of being publicly dumped for a second time. According to Spears, this was a mistake. Once again, the media painted Spears as the villain for splitting up a young family. Federline told the press that Spears was an unfit mother as they both sued for custody of their children. The media put everything Spears did under a microscope without giving Federline the same treatment.

(Shortform note: While Federline didn’t receive as much media scrutiny as Spears, the music business was vicious when it came to reviews of his debut album, Playing With Fire. AllMusic called it too boring to even be worth laughing at, while some critics ranked it as the worst album of all time. By comparison, reviews of Spears’s album Blackout were mixed but mostly positive. Years later, critics warmed to Blackout, calling it her best work and ahead of its time.)

In an act of rebellion, Spears shaved her head, throwing away her “good girl” image, a choice that the tabloids pounced on. She tried using wigs to go incognito, but photographers followed her every step, even as Federline refused to let her see her children. Feeling the weight of all these pressures, Spears’s composure in public began to slip. She describes an incident when a photographer provoked her and she attacked his car with an umbrella, giving the press the reaction they wanted. After this, her parents forced her into rehab for substance abuse (possibly for overusing her prescription Adderall, though Spears doesn’t specify). She insists her problem wasn’t substance abuse—her problem was not being allowed to work through her depression and grief like a normal human being.

(Shortform note: These events took place in 2007, the year that marked the height of the tabloid press’s fascination with Spears and her personal life. The media frenzy surrounding Spears at this time came under reappraisal after the release of the 2021 documentary Framing Britney Spears, which called attention to the role the press played in causing Spears undue emotional stress. Some magazines, such as Glamour and Us, apologized to Spears after the documentary came out, but other media outlets did not. In 2007, one media figure who stood up for Spears was talk show host Craig Ferguson, who refused to mock Spears and instead called attention to his own past alcoholism, insisting that people in Spears’s circumstances need help, not ridicule.)  

Why Did Britney Spears Shave Her Head in 2007?

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Woman in Me summary:

  • The key takeaways of Britney Spears' memoir about her career and private life
  • How the media's portrayal of Spears differed from her experiences
  • How the music industry treats women differently than men

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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