So Britney Spears turned 30 today. Are we the only ones who feel ancient at this news? Hell, I remember bouncing around my room to “Oops… I Did It Again” in fourth grade. And yet it’s not too difficult to envision her as 30, since she’s lived several lifetimes thanks to her tumultuous relationships, mental/emotional instability, and ever-changing image from bubblegum pop girl to trashy hasbeen to somewhat-adjusted woman.
So much nonsense and soul-sucking sadness happened that you’d think her life was a reality show. Then she actually got a reality show. Here’s our roughly chronological journey through the high and low points of Britney’s personal life and career.
1. VIRGINITY WATCH 1999: Long before the Jonas Brothers flashed their purity rings, the media was obsessed with Britney’s maidenhood. She dated *NSYNC leader Justin Timberlake from 1999-2002, and I feel like every news story I read about them was whether they’d popped their respective cherries. It was pretty appalling, actually. They both staunchly claimed to be virgins even though it’s so creepy that grown adults were pestering them about it for years. But in a 2009 SNL skit, Justin basically admitted that he and Britney had slept together.
2. Her first Rolling Stone cover: The first of Britney’s many exclamations that she wasn’t an innocent girl (but still a virgin). To be fair, she did keep her clothes on, but the image — of her splayed out on her bed baring her midriff and hugging a Teletubby — was provocative.
3. Dancing with a snake at the VMAs: The first of many famous performances, she gyrated with a boa to “I’m A Slave 4 U.”
4. The flesh-colored bodysuit at the VMAs: Britney showed us she was “not a girl” and that she needed some “satisfaction.” Boys became men that day.
5. Death hoax: Two Texas DJs reported that Britney and Justin had perished in a car crash. Since this was before the Internet was so prevalent — not to mention Twitter-as-news — it caused quite a panic before her reps could deny it.
6. Crossroads: The enduring story of a small-town girl traveling cross-country with a hot stranger she loses her virginity to. If you can believe it, Zoe Saldana was in this before she became, like, an actual star.
7. Her 55-hour wedding to Jason Alexander: After the Justin break-up, Britney seemed to have poor impulse control when it came to relationships. She wasn’t even dating Jason — they claimed to be childhood friends — when they got hitched at a Vegas chapel. They annulled it a few days later, but we’ll always remember the “wtf” moment.
8. Marrying Kevin Federline: Not only were we boggled that she married Kevin so quickly after the Jason Alexander fiasco, but he just didn’t seem worthy of her. This was our pop princess, after all! She had dated Justin Timberlake, and now this low-life who left his babymama Shar Jackson for her?
9. Britney & Kevin: Chaotic: All those who might’ve wanted an intimate look into Britney and Kevin’s courtship were repulsed by how narcissistic the pop star was.
10. Driving with a baby on her lap: This is where the public view of Trashy Britney began to emerge, when paparazzi snapped her carrying son Sean Preston on her lap. Ironically, she claimed that she had put Sean on her lap because of a frightening run-in with the photogs, but regardless she later owned up to her mistake.