Every time the big banks of lights flashed in my face, there was a little beep that followed. It seemed to signal to the bearded photographer that he could take another picture of me as I sat on the white floor in the nude with my large belly hanging in front. My knees were forward and my legs bent behind. My butt was sitting on my calves and I was made it a point to keep my hands between my legs. It is not easy to pose naked in front of like, what is there here, twenty people running around, lots of lights and cables and rolling desks with big computer screens sitting on top with men, it was always men, examining the computer screens, looking the images the bearded photographer, images that were sent over a red cable from the digital camera directly to the computer screens.
"Britney, sweetheart, can you give me more of a smile," said the bearded photographer.
I hated that people who did not know me called me "sweetheart." Like what right does he have. Like he thinks he can sweet talk me into smiling by being like my father or an older uncle. The guy took no time to talk to me, to tell me what he was going to do, to make me feel comfortable. He left that to his female assistants, who all betrayed how much they despised me, thinking I am an idiot, like some hick who got lucky. Little did they know that I have been performing since I was a little kid, every fucking weekend, before thousands of audiences. Maybe I am a hick. But damn, I know how to get in front of a big crowd and sing. And anyway, who cares what they think. They should be taking care of me. For god's sake, I am sitting here naked with my fat belly and big thighs and fat arms and, jeez, even fat fingers, and they are taking photos of me with my shitty looking skin. And they say they are going to put this on the front cover of Harper’s Bazaar and it is going to be great.
"Britney, sweetheart, maybe we can get off our legs, and change positions. What do you say?" asked the bearded photographer.
He said 'we' like he was sitting here with me in the nude. Fuck him. Like he really knows what it is like to be in the heat of the media lights every fucking day, where they can watch every donut I eat, where they can assess my daily weight, my fat rolls as they grow from week to week, or as they disappear, which they will once I get this kid out of me. I am popping a couple of kids to start a damn family, and big deal if I get fat during the process. Big deal. Damn I want a cigarette so bad.
"What would you like me to do?" I asked.
"Sit up on your knees. Rise up and place your hands behind you," said the bearded photographer.
No fucking way I was going to place my hands behind me and expose privates. Well, OK, so my breasts were hanging out, and he took tons of photos of those, but they promised that none of the boob shots would be used. But I was not going to put my hands behind me.
"That's it. Now your hands behind you. Yes. Yes," said the bearded photographer.
OK, so I did it. I rose on my knees and placed my hands behind me. God, I felt fat. But they said I did not have to worry. That there was Photoshop and it would make me look trim and tan and fit, even though I was fat, and white and about as unfit and un-exercised as I have ever been.
The big banks of lights flashed and flashed and flashed, and all I could think about was that cigarette waiting for me in my dressing room and the donuts. I loved those donuts.
"Can someone get me a Starbucks cappuccino. Have it for me in my dressing room," I asked.
"Yes. Of course," said some girl to the right, someone I could not see, someone I had never met, no doubt.
"You look beautiful, sweetheart. You look beautiful," said the bearded photographer.
Everyone lies. Everyone. And for what. Because they think they can make money off of me. It's all about money. Which I have not made much of in the last few years except off the investments, so my manager tells me. I'm not worried. After the kid comes, and I spend a year raising him, I will get a trainer and go into major rehab and come out the other end looking great with a great new bunch of songs. It will all fix itself overnight.
"You look beautiful, sweetheart. Keep smiling," said the bearded photographer.
So I kept smiling. But it wasn't easy.