Lifespan Development Term Paper

Pages: 13 (6197 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 14  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Doctorate  ·  Topic: Children

Lifespan Development: Britney Spears

Many people believe that they know Britney Spears. Having grown up in front of a camera, first on Mickey Mouse Club, and then as a major worldwide pop star, her life was covered by the camera. Unfortunately, Spears might be more notable for her personal problems than for her major life success. She had a public marriage followed quickly by two children and a divorce. However, it was her post-divorce behavior that garnered a significant amount of attention. She engaged in some publicly erratic behavior, which was apparently even more dramatic behind the scenes. The breakdown led to speculation by people that Spears was suffering from a bio-chemical disorder, with most people speculating that she was bi-polar. It also led to her father becoming her legal guardian. All of these problems have led to intense public speculation about Spears, including her own adulthood and her impact on the development of others. This should come as no surprise. "In cultures without clearly defined rites of passage, defining oneself as an adult rests on one's perception of whether personally relevant key criteria have been met. In U.S. society, this can be very complicated, for example, when success comes at a young age. Is Britney Spears…an adult?" (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2007, p.383).

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Biologically, the answer to that question is clearly a yes. However, the real question was whether Spears displays that behavior that one generally associates with adults. At this point in time, the answer to that question appears to be a "yes." Unlike many tragic Hollywood stories, Spears' story seems to have a happy ending. She is currently in a stable romantic relationship. Her father is still her guardian, but she appears to be managing herself and her career with sufficient ability. She has relationships with both of her children, and an apparently good friendship with her ex-husband. Therefore, she appears to be functioning as a stable adult in her personal and business life.

Major Milestones/Turning Points

Term Paper on Lifespan Development Assignment

Because so much of Spears' life was lived in public, one does not have to speculate about the major milestones in her life. Instead, one can examine the persona she chose to portray to the public, and, from that examination, observe what appear to be several milestones or turning points in her life. Of course, it is critical to keep in mind that these milestones are derived from what is known about her public persona. How the public persona and private persona interact is something that the public may not ever understand; to date, none of her current biographers have the type of reliable inside information that would suggest an unusual degree of personal insight.

One of the more significant milestones in Spears' life occurred before she ever became part of the public consciousness. It was a dance recital with her cousin Laura Lynn Covington:

For their first dance recital, Britney and Laura Lynn did a routine together. Both wore frilly pink costumes, and they had their hair done the same way. Nervously waiting their turn to perform, they looked like two adorable peas in a pod, but when the music started, that abruptly changed. Laura Lynn giggled and repeated the dance moves she liked over and over. But Britney, a look of intense determination on her face, completed the routine exactly as she had learned it, even though she was out of time with the music (Heard, 2010).

In other words, at the first opportunity to be a perfectionist performer, Britney embraced that. Throughout her childhood she was known as being a performer, and competed in gymnastics and other athletic endeavors throughout her childhood. However, what is interesting is that, even though many people perceive Spears' parents as the ultimate stage parents, they did try to push Britney towards endeavors that would fulfill her. Spears was considered for training by famed gymnastics coach Bella Karolyi, but Britney's mother Lynne Spears saw Karolyi's training as too intense and negative for her young child (Heard, 2010). Instead, they searched for other ways for Spears to perform. Spears began singing at a young age and performing in child talent contests and beauty competitions.

The website ListafterList.com made a list of the different steps in Britney's life. Though the list was somewhat facetious, it did capture some of the many public twists and turns that Spears' has experienced over the last decade in the public eye. They began with "Mickey Mouse Club Britney" -- a young Britney's introduction to the public via The Mickey Mouse Club (ListafterList.com, 2010). Next, they described "Sexy Schoolgirl Britney," which marked Spears' transition from child to woman, including sexy videos and provocative magazine covers (ListafterList.com, 2010). While the next step might naturally be included as part of the prior one, the website described it as "Incredibly Ripped & Oversexed Britney," and it was hallmarked by Spears' body confidence, impressive physique, and step out into the dating world outside of Justin Timberlake (ListafterList.com, 2010). At this point in time, Spears had many of the trappings of adult success, but was still trying to fit into an adolescent persona. "Only 17 when her debut album released, she worked hard to maintain her image as a wholesome teen. However sales from the album quickly made her a multimillionaire and a worldwide celebrity. Clearly, she had achieved financial independence" (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2007, p.383). However, was financial independence enough of a hallmark of adulthood to signal a true transition from child to adult? However, it is important to keep in mind that her transition from mouseketeer to pop star was not without interruption. Instead, she went back to Louisiana when the TV show was canceled. "Gradually Britney became a normal teenager. Her MMC memories faded, and she became interested in other things- including, eventually, boys. She progressed from grade 7 to grade 9, and sometime that year, perhaps due to her lingering celebrity status, she attracted the attention of Mason Stratham, a popular boy who was a year older than she and who had been unofficially dubbed 'most handsome boy in school'" (Heard, 2010). Another high school boyfriend claimed that she lost her virginity to him at the age of 14 (Heard, 2010).

For many people, these two above steps signaled Spears' transition into adulthood, but they did not signal the end of Spears' very public changes. The website then describes "Rebellious Britney," which they suggest was the beginning of Spears' initial public downfall and was characterized by rebellious behavior like smoking cigarettes and dressing in an unflattering manner (ListafterList.com, 2010). The website goes on to describe "Pregnant Britney," which featured Spears in her two back-to-back pregnancies (ListafterList.com, 2010). However, after her pregnancy, Spears appeared to begin engaging in some erratic behavior. The website derisively calls that "White Trash Britney," and Spears was observed engaging in some distasteful behavior, like wearing trashy clothing, appearing barefoot in public several locations, and generally looking disheveled (ListafterList.com, 2010). Spears' erratic behavior comes to a climax with "Dangerous Bald Britney," where Spears' shaves her head, goes to rehab, attempts suicide, and attacks a paparazzi's car with an umbrella (ListafterList.com, 2010). During this phase, one sees Spears' struggling to regain balance in both her personal and professional lives. She fails to appear for court dates regarding her children's guardianship, and engages in very public partying. Spears is eventually hospitalized for a mental health evaluation (ListAfterList.com, 2010). What is interesting is that, although characterized as a sign of decreasing mental instability, Spears' shaved head may not have been the warning sign of mental illness that the media characterized it to be. The hairdresser Spears approached to have her head shaved, Esther Tognozzi, reported that Spears' stated reasons for wanting her head shaved was that she was tired of the look of long hair and that her extensions were uncomfortably tight (Heard, 2010). When one imagines having to live with the constant discomfort of pulled hair, the decision to shave her head no longer seems like an irrational, desperate cry for help.

While that website stops documenting Spears life at that time, there were, fortunately, more significant steps in Spears' life. Her hospitalization seems to have led to some positive changes in her life. "While in the hospital, Spears became the subject of a power struggle between her parents, Jamie and Lynne, and her then-manager Sam Lufti. The couple believed that Lufti was a bad influence on their daughter and was trying to control her life. Her father went to court and obtained control over Britney's personal, professional, and medical matters" (A&E Television, 2011). This appears to have been beneficial for Spears' life. While her ex-husband remains the primary caregiver for their two children, Spears has significant contact with her boys. Her father retains control over Spears, but their relationship appears to be an amiable one. She is currently engaged to a man with whom she has been in a significant long-term relationship. Moreover, she is in the process of a career comeback. Her body, which served as the foundation… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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