Britney Spears’ struggles with mental health have been well-documented over the years. But the 34-year-old singer has rarely spoken publicly about her experiences – which, of course, is perfectly reasonable. Discussing mental health in a constructive, compassionate way with our closest friends or family is one thing; opening up in a celebrity interview is entirely another.
In a new interview, Spears, who was raised in Louisiana, attributes her anxiety to growing up in the southern US – and the pressures of pursuing a pop career from such a young age. Hit Me Baby One More Time was released in 1998, when Spears was just 16.
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“Southern girls can be very hard on themselves because you are expected to act in a certain way, you are expected to please people,” she tells Marie Claire. “And then I moved to Los Angeles when I was very young.
“I was so under scrutiny. If a hair was out of place, I’d be so anxious. I would get very anxious about so many things.”
Spears says that she still gets anxious as an adult, citing a recent date as an example.
“I had a really bad date. I mean, it was really bad,” she says. “I’ve been single for ages and had a date with a guy I liked. I was getting anxious, worrying he wouldn’t like me. In the evening I got on the scales and I had lost six pounds.”
Spears' experience of losing weight isn't uncommon for people struggling with anxiety. According to the NHS, unintentional, significant weight loss can be a side effect of extreme stress, and weight often returns to normal once you start to feel calmer and happier again.
The singer – whose ninth album, Glory, came out last month – also doled out some words of reassurance for others who might experience anxiety before going on a date.
“We went to the movies, but I could tell right away it wasn’t working. It was sort of awkward. So after the movie I came home and that was it,” she said. “He just wasn’t that into me... It happens to everybody.
“Being famous doesn’t make you any different.”
But Spears – who told James Corden in her recent Carpool Karaoke that she doesn’t “believe in marriage anymore” – says that her two sons, Sean and Jayden, have helped her handle her anxiety.
“My boys don’t care if everything isn’t perfect, they don’t judge me,” she says. “If anything, when I’m all dressed up they aren’t happy because it usually means I’m going to work.
“I’ve been through a lot and I’ve got to this point where I’m feeling good about being single. The best relationship I’ve ever had is with my boys.”
Images: Rex Features