A Therapist Reacted to the Parent Shaming in the Framing Britney Spears
The television documentary The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears has prompted many media commentators and consumers to reflect on how they treated the pop singer during the mid-2000s, one of the most tumultuous periods of her life.
In a new YouTube video, psychologist Dr. Kirk Honda comments on the constant harassment Spears faced from reporters and photographers, including the instances where they tailed her so closely they captured the now-infamous images of Spears driving with her baby on her lap.
“Imagine yourself, as parents of young children, imagine if everything you ever did was photographed, and everyone was looking for the headline and the front page to get a lot of money,” says Honda. “And as long as the public, us, consume those photographs, the paparazzi are going to keep working even harder… Are they really interested in Britney’s child? Are they really interested in helping Britney as a parent? Or are they just interested in money?”
He also notes that rumours which surrounded Spears at the time regarding her potentially having post-partum depression only served to contribute to both the pervasive social stigma of mental illness, and the ways in which it can be downplayed in new parents.
“Post-partum depression is a very common thing, much more common than people talk about. Anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic attacks, are also very common,” he says. “There’s just something about the change in hormones, or even how difficult pregnancy and birth can be, that can trigger anxiety and mood disorders… It’s not just being a little down, it’s a full-on depressive episode that can last years.”
As Honda puts it, you only have to imagine behaving like this towards somebody who isn’t famous to see how extreme and frightening the circumstances were that Spears was living through. He advises being more mindful before clicking on these kinds of attention-grabbing headlines, and considering what wider impact they might be contributing to.
“As soon as you click on it, you are validating that clickbait,” he says. “You’re saying yes, I support that sort of journalism… It’s kind of like buying clothing you know was made in a sweatshop.”
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