Heater, Mother of Lance

Since she first did a back-hand-spring into my heart

My next piece about Britney Spears is up at Alpha Mom:

“It was once Britney got pregnant, though, that I really had a hard time believing what I was seeing: the many, many times she was photographed barefoot in public or looking like she hadn’t showered since last century. Why would someone as rich as she is, with as much fame and attention, walk out of the house looking like that when she knows a picture of her bra-less nipples are going to show up the next week in magazines across the country? It was less a disapproving reaction than a confused one, and I was fascinated with the anthropological implications of this superstar showing up in photographs screaming: PLEASE JUDGE ME HARSHLY.”

I’m going to open up comments here because I think there could be an interesting discussion about this. And also because I’m crazy.

  • Kim Rodgers

    2006/06/29 at 6:03 am

    The only thing I disagree with you on is your defending her driving with Sean P. in her lap. That is NOT OK. That is not just an inexperienced, young mom mistake. I’m sorry, but she should know better. No matter how “country” she is.

  • Ashley

    2006/06/29 at 6:06 am

    I totally see where you’re coming from, Heather.

    I completely sympathize with her.

    I also have to say, someone commented above and said something about how often we see Britney without Sean P. and how she must have nannies around the clock, etc. etc.

    I know she has nannies and whatnot, but I’ve barely seen any pictures of Britney without Sean P. since the little guy was born. I’ve seen a few here and there of her out at night, but I think out of all the celebrities, I’ve seen her with her child the most.

    And as far as this whole “Britney is a role model” thing. Who, exactly, is Britney a role model to? I don’t think there are many people left who are modeling their lives after Britney Spears. She isn’t a role model at this point, she’s a person who other people criticize to make themselves feel like better people/parents. And honestly, that’s a real shame.

    It’s tough being a new mother. I think she’s just doing the best she can, like we all do.

  • dooce

    2006/06/29 at 5:56 am

    Jlemm, excellent comment. i’m so glad there isn’t a photograph of the time Leta fell off the end of our bed onto her head because I was off using the bathroom by myself for the first time in two months.

    I think some of you have missed my point ENTIRELY about just how judgmental mothers are of other mothers.

  • Angela

    2006/06/29 at 6:01 am

    I think that Brittney is making the same mistakes that every new mother makes, but hers are made in the glaring public eye. Even though I might not agree with her decisions, I just want to give her a hug and tell her it will be alright.

  • rachel

    2006/06/29 at 5:55 am

    That was woderfully written. Although I never really had an opinion about her one way or the other, her Matt Lauer interview made me really, really sad. It must be so hard to feel you have to defend your marriage and your family so publicly. Relationships are so hard anyway without being scrutinized by the whole world. I hope she can look back on this time in her twenties like you can, Heather, and shake her head and smile a little.

  • cel123

    2006/06/29 at 5:49 am

    Thanks for saying pretty much everything I was thinking about Britney, but perhaps a little afraid to admit it. She’s human, right? I’d like to think that she’s doing the best she can as a mother, just like the rest of us.

  • Jlemm

    2006/06/29 at 5:51 am

    MOTHERHOOD IS THE GREAT EQUALIZER. I don’t care who you are or how much money you have, you are going to do something stupid with your kid at some point.

    I just thank the good Lord that no one was there to photograph the time I forgot to buckle the infant carseat to the car and it flipped over in the backseat when I took a turn, the time I cluelessly walked around Target for hours with 2 huge wet breastmilk wet spots on my shirt, the time I was too busy talking to a friend at the mall foodcourt to notice that my one year old was choking on a french fry, the time I walked off an elevator and looked back in time to see the doors close on the frightened face of my 2 year old, the time I was in postpartum hell and I actually asked my sister if she thought my husband would forgive me if I just moved to a new city and changed my identity, the time I unconsciously opened the sliding doors on our minivan and caught my 3 year old in between the door and another car, and on and on and on….

    Britney has been called many things including white trash, trailer trash, a slut, a bad mother, and a dumb blonde – but when it comes down to it SHE IS HUMAN.

  • Margaret

    2006/06/29 at 5:52 am

    The thing is, I like Britney better for her shocking ability to lay herself out there to be judged human. It’s almost like part of that thing where she played the naughty innocent, when she was really too young to be as bad as her costumes implied. Who wants to watch another super-polished star? Britney is an original.

  • ieatcrayonz

    2006/06/29 at 5:45 am

    I can’t say anything bad about Brit. For one thing, I know I’ve been out in public not looking my best. And another, her boobs are just so…what were we talking about?

  • NinasMom

    2006/06/29 at 5:48 am

    Ok, I was trying to be quiet here, but to hell with it.
    Being country is one thing, being safe is another. Sure, I got to sit on my dad’s lap and “drive” the car. It was fun, it was a good memory, and it’s something that both my dad and I admit was stupid. Times have changed, people are more reckless, roads are more dangerous.

    And by the way ME, while there may not have been any “random baby kills 19 news stories”, there was a story about a woman who accepted a ride from someone without a car seat, had her toddler in her lap, and after driving just down the street, was hit by a car, fell 50 feet off an overpass, and lived only to find her baby girl dead. Because she didn’t think it was a big deal to go down the street with her baby in her lap. She was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, and lives with that every day of her life.

    Extreme example, but true reality. Britney is a role model, whether she wants to be one or not.

  • Pascha

    2006/06/29 at 5:46 am

    34, Me, yes I drove on my dad’s lap…not when I was a baby, though. And not on a freeway. It was always on back roads where there was no other traffic. I was disappointed when I saw those photos, but it doesn’t make her a bad person. What bugs me most about it is she tells different stories about why that happened. She should just pick one and go with it so people don’t rip on her even more.

  • Thérèse

    2006/06/29 at 5:43 am


    You know, until I read that piece, I too was mostly just confused as to why Britney did those things. Not being a mother, it didn’t even occur to me that it could be that… just that. Maybe she is simply trying to live her life without constantly thinking about the tabloids and what people think. It must add a completely different dimension of difficult to her life.

  • Karyn

    2006/06/29 at 5:42 am

    It’s nice that she’s showing us the “warts and all” picture of motherhood, and yes it is sad that she has to do it in the public eye – but, gee, well Heather, I just don’t agree with you.

    I too cringe when I see her giggling and snapping her gum while talking to Matt Lauer – wishing fervently that she’d just for a second realise how she must look and sound, and somehow wish that she could just get it together.

    I mean really – if she wears bad clothes, and lets it all hang out, all over the place – that’s one thing, but she’s got a baby now and she just has to step up.

    To extend the hand of sympathy to Brittney all it would take is for her to let us see, for just a second that Sean Preston’s well being is at the forefront of her thinking.

    It doesn’t matter what she wears, when she gets up in the morning, how often she showers, what she says on TV or even who her ‘husband’ is…

    * new comment after re-reading your alpha-mom post.

  • Anne Glamore

    2006/06/29 at 5:42 am

    Since I spent the first five months after my son was born walking around topless (it was just too damn much trouble to deal with that nursing bra and a shirt), I’m giving her props for wearing a bra at all.

  • brandy

    2006/06/29 at 5:36 am

    I think Britney’s main problem is that she has mentally never grown up.
    She was handled from a very young age and told what to do when to do it and how to be.
    Now she’s decided she’s a “grown up” (what adult uses the word grown up about themselves?)getting rid of all of her handlers and doing things how she thinks they should be done.
    Except mentally she seems to be around 14 or so.
    She makes mistake after mistake and always has excuses as to why these mistakes happen “shes southern” “the paparazzi” instead of saying “Im human and fucked up.”

    Although if I see one more photo of her with her kid on her hip in nothing but a diaper Im going to have to beat her.

  • Me

    2006/06/29 at 5:40 am

    Are we for real? Did noneya ever “drive” your dad’s pickup before you were old enough to see over it without standing in Dad’s lap?

    Dang. Those are some of the best memories I have- of that and of my little bro doing the same thing. We still laugh about it. Brit’s right, that’s just what we do down here. I’ve never heard of anybody dying from it either- no random “baby kills 19” news stories, and I’m sure it’d make the news.

    Ya’ll need to lighten up, maybe try relaxing and such. Less stress, less worry, more pleasure.

    But I’m guessing this is the same group that’s never fired a gun, much less in kindergarten hee hee ya’ll poor little ole thangs….

  • dyanna

    2006/06/29 at 5:40 am

    ME, you are hilarious, and you do have a point. I’m not from the South. At least we agree, Kevin isnt good for her.

  • Me

    2006/06/29 at 5:41 am

    Oh, forgot to say: Great article, Dooce. As always. You’re a helluva writer.

  • Pascha

    2006/06/29 at 5:40 am

    I forgot to add, I noticed some people were talking about her looks during the interview, and why can’t her stylists say something. Her stylists did not help her get ready the day of the interview. She dressed herself, and did her own hair and makeup. While I personally wouldn’t have gone that route, she has the right to do so, even though we may not have liked her choice.

  • Me

    2006/06/29 at 5:35 am

    Ok, now I’m kinda irked here….

    If you travel all over (the country, the world), or read news from all over, surely you can pick up on one simple fact: fashion styles are very different in different areas.

    Hence, NY’ers? soooo business like. Everybody in grey and black. LA’ers? Pricks. Stuck up, fashion worshippers. Down South? Think Dolly Parton, upp’d a notch. Big boobs, bra strap/g string showing, a little dirty, a little real.

    We got a saying ya know: God made dirt, dirt don’t hurt.

    Stop knockin on our life and we’ll keep our grubby little paws outta yours. Men down here want girls that aren’t afraid to hop on the back of a 4 wheeler and tear it up, or maybe take their own and get covered in mud.

    They want a girl who can shoot pool, open a beer bottle with her teeth, who can b*tch slap any heifer that gets outta line with her man at Hooters.

    Different world people. Its a different world.

    Brit’s the idol of most of the teen girls down south. She’s living the life.

    She needs to come on back- we’ll take care of those nasty paparrazi for her. A 22 up their *ss oughtta fix that.

  • momtolivi

    2006/06/29 at 5:33 am

    I’ve always been a huge Britney fan. Until she hooked up with Cletus–he has brought her down so low.

    I agree with Heather’s Alpha Mom article. Those first few months of motherhood are pure hell. You’re so scared–of everything. Even those of us who spent so much time wanting and planning a baby were turned upside down once that little bundle arrived.

    Part of me feels so bad for her but another part says, “Wake up! What the hell are you doing? You’re a beautiful, wealthy girl who can do anything you want. Why are you married to a scum bag and having not one, but TWO of his children? I think she’s stuck right now. I just hope she finds the strength to regain herself and become the amazing girl/woman she once was.

  • kittykatgrl

    2006/06/29 at 5:30 am

    Perfectly said (as usual) Heather! I’m betting on the previous “appearance exhaustion” post. I think she will eventually dump the skankiest (is that a word?) man on the planet, lose some weight, and WOW us by her late 20’s.

  • dyanna

    2006/06/29 at 5:33 am

    To comment to Heather’s comment, I did read what you wrote and I thought it was poignant. I agreed with almost everything you said… But the thing is, I’M a new mother too. My son is going to be 5 months old and I just started back at work. I dont have all the stylists and whatnot, but I made it ‘my thing’ to always make sure to shower and change every day even if I went absolutely nowhere. No, I didnt wear makeup and my clothes were baggy, and yes, I have gone out with spit-up all over me, and I even walked across to my neighbors while my son only had ONE SOCK ON (gasp!!) but I dont have a nanny or any sort of assistants to help me. I think when you do, there really is no excuse for looking and acting so trashy.

  • textimage

    2006/06/29 at 5:28 am


    thanks as always for the read(s). i like your brining attention to ms. spears single handedly tearing down the glossy facade of celebrity publicity and polish, however if would be a more powerful statement if in fact this was her intention. you cant go from being a manufactured product to a renegade showing by example that you poo-poo whats wrong with the dependence on image AND then to turn around and dye your hair dark brown (which loooks lovely on her by the way) and pose nekkid in bazaar. she is a plain ol mess and cause shes doing it blindly, seemingly w/o the ability to understand her rebel actions, the potential for social critisism via britney is lost. sorry dooce.

    one more observation i find torubling and worth of discussion. you wrote: “she was photographed driving with her child in her lap.” the choice to say she was “photographed” driving with her child on her lap subtlely distracts from the actual act of her choosing to drive withher child on her lap. which is horrific, stupid and sure it’s sad too. but inexcuseable and to paint it any other way is troublesome. everyone deserves compassion as does britney but compassion does not mean NOT speaking (writing) honestly about the human condition as well as its manifestations.

    all best.

  • Jill Shalvis

    2006/06/29 at 5:31 am

    I’m just grateful I’m not the only one making mistakes!

  • Pascha

    2006/06/29 at 5:33 am

    I’ve always loved Britney, but the poor girl has just gone deep into a downward spiral. And as hard as she tried to redeem herself in her interview with Matt Lauer, I think it just made things worse for her.

  • Karyn

    2006/06/29 at 5:29 am

    You know, if you’re in the public eye, are famous and know that the paparazzi document your every move…surely it can’t be that hard to just not do dumb stuff.

    Being famous is sort of like having a job…if your boss is standing over you then you gotta be on your best behaviour…Brittney the paparazzi is your boss…how hard can it be to remember to keep yourself nice?

    Plus…how many days after Sean Preston’s birth did she conceive spawn #2?

  • Nancy

    2006/06/29 at 5:26 am

    I’m too old to be much of a Britney fan, but it is heartening to see that she seems to have such a strong desire to be a mother.

  • Vikki

    2006/06/29 at 5:26 am

    I think it is very complicated. I am not a fan of Britney’s but I also know that I would not like my parenting to be scrutinized the way hers has been and will continue to be. I’ve always found her a bit irritating but, now, I just feel bad for her. Being a parent is hard enough without being married to someone who calls himself K-fed.

  • Meshugga

    2006/06/29 at 5:26 am

    I have to say, I was actually impressed when Britney started showing signs of being an actual human being instead of this perfectly-polished pop star princess (wow, too many P’s there). Smoking, drinking, partying…I was like “Go Britney! You represent, girl!” And when she became pregnant and subsequently a mother, I adored her barefootedness and lumpy belly and jiggly upper arms…made her more tangible in terms of being a regular person like the rest of us.

    The only things I take umbrage to are her questionable parenting skills and her skanky husband who to this day confuses me completely with his brand of Ick. Tamara lee said it best with her stoner description above, and I can only amend it with a big WTF? to the guy’s recording career…and I use the word career very loosely here. I think one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time is the video of him showing off one of his tunes in the studio…he was so damn pleased with himself and all I could think was “Oh dear god, there goes our landfills.”

  • dooce

    2006/06/29 at 5:25 am

    i think some of you should actually read what i wrote before you comment here, before you come here and spew a whole bunch of holier-than-thou judgmental bullshit.

  • Me

    2006/06/29 at 5:25 am

    Amen, let’s here it for Nutbush! Rock on Mremphris….

    Like Windy said- she’s country, she’s proud. I wouldn’t be surprised to find K-Fed’s room decked out in confed flags and camo, personally. Bet Brit’s got at least one pair of dark brown gauchos that she wears with her orange Bass Pro Shop tshirt.

    I’m glad she isn’t conforming to the smoke and mirrors, glitter and gold Hollywood Stepford Wives role.

    I’d rather have someone real (heck at least she waited til marriage til she got knocked up, does anybody give her credit for that?!) out there, trying to raise up a family, than some fake publicity shot junk.

    All I’m saying is…wish she’d stuck with Justin. K-Fed’s a little too hard for my taste.

  • pomponcrystal

    2006/06/29 at 5:24 am

    The thing about Britney is that she contradicts herself. If you watched her embarrassing interview with Matt Lauer, you will see a begging sad woman, pleading with the paparazzi to leave her alone.

    Two weeks later, she dyes her hair black as shit and then poses naked (airbrushing ANY sign of motherhood away might I add) on the cover of a magazine.

    COME ON!

  • Meg

    2006/06/29 at 5:01 am

    I hate to say it, but I sort of respect her barefootedness. As a fellow (former) Southerner, you might also recognize the urge to be unshod at all times.

  • liznboys

    2006/06/29 at 5:03 am

    Isn’t being barefoot better than wearing clogs?

    You KNOW someone had to ask the question….

  • kendall

    2006/06/29 at 5:05 am

    I wouldn’t call myself a Britney Spears fan, and that black hair thing she’s got going on is REALLY not working for me.

    But “Toxic” might be one of the best pop songs written in the past 10 years.

  • Lola

    2006/06/29 at 5:07 am

    Though I fell in love the moment I heard the first few notes of “Hit Me Baby One More Time”, my love was cemented when I saw the MTV awards. Remember the body. Remember the sequin skin outfit.

    I’m about seven years older than Britney but in that moment I wanted to be her.

    Now it makes me sad. Now SHE makes me sad.

    How the mighty have fallen.

    Although, she did look cute in those recent beach shots with the baby. Pregnant bikini belly and all.

    She’s still in there and I think so many of us pray she returns to us soon.

  • WhimsyChick

    2006/06/29 at 5:08 am

    Don’t celebrities have huge groups of people who advise them on what to wear and what to say, so they don’t have to do damage control later? Maybe Brit needs to fire her people and get some new ones.

  • S t a c i

    2006/06/29 at 5:09 am

    Every part of Britney’s life, warts and all, is fodder for public scorn. It makes me feel sad for her, and glad that the only proof that is left of my 20s is some photographs and the memories of my friends…who thankfully ain’t talkin’.

  • kreints

    2006/06/29 at 5:11 am

    Thank you for syaing what I have not been able to verbalize. I cannot say that I am a fan of Britney Spears, but I am a new mother and I can sympathize with her. Nothing that she has done, or that has happened is worth the public humiliation that she has been put through. Not that I am saying that she didn’t put herself in the public eye, but the media has magnified it beyond belief.

  • kidsmom

    2006/06/29 at 5:14 am

    I’m MUCH older than Britney. My take is that she has been SOOO controlled and marketed (she was a Mouseketeer before she was Britney) that when she become a MOM, she decided she wanted to be in control of herself. It’s all in your face for a reason. Never having had to make a decision of her own now she’s exerting the right to do so. I got to make my mistakes in private, she gets to make hers in front of the world.

    Poor kid. And I don’t me Sean P.

  • Pioneer Woman

    2006/06/29 at 5:14 am

    My take is that for so long—and during the formative ages between 11 and 20—she was primped, made-up, combed, brushed, polished, and touched up, not only every day but SEVERAL TIMES a day. I believe she reached her limit of caring about her appearance and simply can’t do it any more. Call it appearance exhaustion.

    Combine that with a little early-twenties-post-baby depression/funk and you have a girl who just wants to wake up and not care about what she looks like.

    I’ll bet when she hits about 28, she’ll lose a bunch of weight and find her looks again. She’ll be ready to be Sexy Mom instead of the Sad Pop Princess mom.

  • Beachgal

    2006/06/29 at 5:14 am

    I am not a Britney fan. Just not into her. I do feel however, she’s made some stupid mistakes. I don’t necessarily think she’s a bad mom, but she HAS made some bad choices, and because of popularity it gets broadcast everywhere, and she gets ripped apart by it. She needs proper staff that should keep her out of trouble like she’s been in, and then people won’t judge her so harshly. Except for saying she needs to take care of herself without others telling her what to do, etc., etc. Catch 22, ya know. Oh well. Great piece Dooce.

  • tamara lee

    2006/06/29 at 5:15 am

    what britney is going through right now is what i went through when i was young, in my early twenties and had low self-esteem. everything went to hell. i didn’t look good, friends and family warned me and eventually gave up about telling me that my boyfriend at the time was a loser. i cringe every time i read something about her.

    kevin federline is a complete douche. i’m awaiting the day she divorces him, gets healthy again and does something good for herself.

    on a superficial note, i think that k-fed looks like every stoner i ever knew of in highschool. dirt ‘stache? check. squinty eyes? check. AND he’s starting to get that skinny-fat guy look from drinking too much.

    poor brit!

  • Windy

    2006/06/29 at 5:16 am

    Heather, you’re a Southerner. I’m a Southerner. You know darn well that you can take the girl out of the trailer park, but you can’t take the trailer park out of the girl. In her early career, she had handlers to tell her when her roots were showing, or when she should spit out her gum. Now that she has some success under her belt, she’s also getting some freedom – and woe to us. It’s only a matter of time before she’s twirling double-fire batons.

  • Urs

    2006/06/29 at 5:20 am

    i think the thing about britney being a mom is that she has around-the-clock nannies to help her with her baby. i know we’ve seen photos of her with her baby in her arms, and even heard stories about how she changed the babys diper on a restaurant table, wow, big deal! how many times have we seen her leaving the spa, or going shopping, all without her precious baby! it’s not like she is up all night long and constantly watching her child, she has others help her with it. and to me, her appearance and behavior is unexcusable because its’t not like she is wearing the same t-shirt 3 days in a row. she’s a lazy cow!

  • NinasMom

    2006/06/29 at 5:21 am

    I understand that she’s expressing herself right now, trying to take control. But seriously, a brush and a bra is not asking too much.

    By the way Britney fans, seen the cover of the August issue of Harper’s Bazaar? It looks like the Pregnant Demi Moore Vanity Fair cover gone REALLY bad!

  • dyanna

    2006/06/29 at 5:21 am

    I sometimes feel bad for all celebrities…as I sit and read the US magazine I pay $60 a year for. I KNOW they are always being watched by the stinky paparazzi. I would hate to be them. But then again, such is the price of fame. I also dont make a gazillion dollars.

    Britney has helpers, assistants, stylists, what-have-you. There is NO REASON why her bra should have been poking out the side of her shirt while talking to Matt Lauer or why her extensions look a fright or why she was chewing gum like a cow during the whole thing. I think, like with Tom Cruise, she should have people tell her what to do and how to do it – when he fired his publicist and hired his sister, all hell broke loose. He turned into this ‘crazy man’, meanwhile he probably has been this crazy all along, we just didnt know it. As messed up as that sounds, the more ‘boring’ or ‘wholesome’ Britney can make herself, the more the press will leave her alone. (Although it may be a little too late for that.)

    But that’s just my opinion.

  • lap

    2006/06/29 at 5:22 am

    Radio Disney came into my life (with my kids) at that time too- so avoiding Britney was pretty impossible. I sort of fell in love with a cartoon, as I am apt to do, and now I watch her and think I’ve never seen a person so full of the potential for human failing in my life..but it mostly makes me want to be nice to her-to invite her over for coffee and tell her how much her baby seems to love her.

  • bloomingyou

    2006/06/29 at 5:24 am

    Pioneer Woman: I love the idea of appearance exhaustion.

    I’m not a mom-I just watch from the sidelines as my family and friends have raised their babies. I think Britney has made some mistakes and because she is in the public eye she get thoroughly routed for them. That being said, I do think the girl needs to get a better team of publicists around her and get rid of federline.

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Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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