Who knew that posting a picture of a designer shoe could cause so much trouble? Well, Britney Spears found out to her cost in the summer of 2019 when she showed off a pair of Louboutins that she’d bought several years previously on Instagram. And it’s fair to say that her fans weren’t impressed.
Sadly, for the one-time Princess of Pop, her social media faux pas also came during a time of great personal upheaval. Earlier on in the year, the star had been forced to cancel her second Las Vegas residency when her father fell ill, and she subsequently spent time in a psychiatric facility due to stress. However, rumors began to persist that Spears was being held there involuntarily.
Spears later denied the claims that she was being held against her will in an Instagram video. However, in a court report obtained by TMZ during an investigation into her conservatorship, the singer allegedly admitted that she was forced to attend the facility. And then the man at the center of the rumors, her father, found himself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons once again.
Jamie Spears was accused of abusing his superstar daughter’s son Sean Preston, following an altercation in which the former kicked down a door. Sean Preston and his brother Jayden James were then granted a restraining order, meaning their grandfather couldn’t have any contact with them for three years.
Of course, with all this going on, it’s unlikely that Spears thought too much about posting a seemingly harmless image of a former impulse purchase. But she once again found herself at the center of controversy nevertheless. So, with that in mind, here’s a look at the shoe saga which got Instagram all in a tizz.
Britney Spears has been creating scandals from the moment she burst on to the pop scene in 1998 with “…Baby One More Time.” A year after its release, the then-17-year-old posed for a scantily-clad cover of Rolling Stone magazine. But the shoot didn’t go down too well with the American Family Association, which urged people to boycott stores selling her music.
Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears were once considered the golden couple of the pop world. But in the early ‘00s the pair split up amid rumors that the latter had strayed. The former later wrote a hit song, “Cry Me A River,” about an adulterous ex-girlfriend that many believed was aimed at his former beau.
Spears got middle America enraged all over again in 2003 when she appeared at the MTV Video Music Awards. The star joined fellow Mickey Mouse Club graduate Christina Aguilera and Queen of Pop Madonna on stage for an eagerly awaited special performance. But it was her mid-song kiss with the latter that got everyone talking.
A year later Spears briefly became Mrs. Jason Alexander – but it didn’t last. The superstar and her longtime friend chose to get wed on the spur of the moment while enjoying a drunken night out in Las Vegas. But quickly realizing their mistake, the couple got their marriage annulled less than three days later.
Spears did eventually get married for real later that same year. Only this time around, it was to Kevin Federline, a dancer who had left his pregnant girlfriend Shar Jackson to be with the chart-topper. However, he later got Spears in trouble when he uploaded a video to YouTube of Spears appearing to be stoned.
But Spears herself also seemed determined to distance herself from her squeaky clean pop star past. The singer regularly began partying with tabloid-baiting socialite Paris Hilton, much to the delight of the American paparazzi who would repeatedly follow her around town. However, things would sadly soon take a much darker turn.
Spears worried everyone with her behavior when she visited a hair salon in February 2007. After complaining about the tightness of her hair extensions, the singer opted for a radical solution. She shaved her head entirely, leading many to fear she was in the midst of a nervous breakdown.
Spears ended up going to rehab – but soon after, she decided to leave of her own accord and headed for her then ex-husband Federline’s house. But after the dancer refused to open the door, Spears famously vented her frustrations out on an SUV while wielding a large umbrella.
Of course, the paparazzi were there to capture every moment. And it was while trying to escape another sea of photographers that Spears once again got into trouble. The star’s mothering skills were called into question when she was pictured driving with her young son Sean Preston sat on her lap without a seatbelt.
Sadly, if perhaps inevitably, Spears’ behavior eventually resulted in her losing both of her kids. In 2007 a court granted physical custody of sons Sean Preston and Jayden James to Kevin Federline, who she had filed for divorce from the year previously. However, the trouble didn’t end there.
Spears was then supposed to stage a triumphant comeback at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards, but her performance of comeback single “Gimme More” was nothing short of a disaster. The star forgot the song’s lyrics, failed to master her dance moves and generally looked like a lost soul on stage.
Then in January 2008 Spears was once again committed to a psychiatric ward following an incident involving her two sons. The star, who was in a distressed state having been fully awake for no less than four days, had refused to hand over Sean Preston and Jayden James to her ex-husband. The matter was only resolved when cops were sent to her home.
Spears’ reputation as a vocalist had already taken a battering by the time she rocked up in Perth, Australia, for a 2009 show. But even so, fans were still disgruntled to hear her miming the entirety of the show, and several audience members walked out of the gig complaining that they’d been robbed of $200.
On the surface, “If You Seek Amy” sounds like an innocuous, if fairly nonsensical song title. However, sing it a certain way and it sounds suspiciously like a cursing phrase. Apparently, one particular parent certainly didn’t appreciate this type of wordplay and promptly filed a lawsuit for corrupting the nation’s children.
In 2011 Spears came under fire for using a prop gun in the video for her single “Criminal.” The star had filmed the action-heavy promo in London, a city that had recently witnessed a series of major riots. Spears was therefore accused of being insensitive for using firearms as entertainment.
Given the array of scandals she’d lived through, Spears may have thought that she was in safe territory when she posted a picture of a wardrobe discovery. In August 2019 the star shared an image of a single Christian Louboutin heel on her official Instagram page – so far, so innocent, you would think.
In fact, Spears has become renowned for treating her fans to previews of her new wardrobe on social media. The star regularly posts videos on Instagram in which she walks up and down in a catwalk style while wearing her latest purchase. And with an estimated worth of nearly $60 million, she sure has the funds to splash out.
And Spears is no stranger to commenting about her shoes, either. In a 2012 chat with Lucky magazine, she was asked exactly how many pairs she has in her closet. And it’s not as many as you think. The singer replied, “I don’t know, 50,” which shocked the interviewer, as the latter admitted that she expected the answer to be somewhere around 500.
Spears might not have an Imelda Marcos-esque shoe collection, but she can still put her favorite designers through their paces. In an interview with Star 2, Giuseppe Zanotti recalled the time that the singer had asked him for something that was practically impossible. He said, “[Spears] requested for a pair of shoes that would melt as she performed on stage. It is stimulating to receive such challenges but I cannot meet all of them.”
Of course, there have been a few occasions when Spears has done away with her shoes altogether. In May 2019 she attended a conservatorship hearing in which her mother Lynne asked for access to the star’s medical records. And on leaving the court, Spears was pictured walking entirely barefoot.
Spears’ occasional barefoot habit has also caused her embarrassment in the past. In 2004 The Sun reported that cabin crew had to ask her to put her shoes back on due to complaints about her smelly feet, during a flight from New York to Los Angeles.
One particular passenger told the British newspaper, “The smell was unbelievable. One woman had a word with the air hostess, then three or four others complained. Britney went red, laughed and said her shoes make her feet stink. Thankfully she put them back on. There’s no way we could have put up with that.”
So how exactly did Spears end up sparking a shoe-related outcry on social media? Well, alongside the photo of the offending Louboutin snakeskin shoe, a seemingly self-unaware Spears posted the slightly tone deaf caption, “Four years ago I bought my first pair of Christian Louboutin snakeskin heels that were $6,000… PS, I’ve never worn them!”
Although the photo soon racked up more than 260,000 likes on the platform, not all of her followers were in such an appreciative mood. Spears was chastised by several Instagram users for flaunting her wealth, and she also came under fire for promoting the use of animal skin in fashion.
These critics certainly didn’t try to hold back, either. One particularly enraged follower posted in response to Spears’ video, “Must be nice to flaunt your overindulgence. Meanwhile, we have people who can’t afford their next meal. Here’s an idea, instead of spending that sort of money on nonsense, donate it.”
And the negative reactions continued to keep on coming. One follower said, “This really speaks to the people who are going without a single meal today. My God.” Another commented, “This is shameful to wear animals killed for vanity and brag about letting them go to waste. So cavalier and dismissive.”
However, not all of Spears’ Instagram followers took umbrage with the star showing off her snakeskin boots. One particularly supportive fan posted, “Good for you! You worked hard and you earned them! Don’t let anyone else bring you down. Live your life and spend your money the way you want.”
“When did any other celeb have to justify their purchases? Let alone any other person? Y’all treat this woman like she’s a (non existent) welfare queen,” wrote another supportive fan. Another added, “That’s right, show them you can buy whatever you want anywhere you want, it’s your money honey!”
Another fan argued that everyone was blowing the whole issue out of proportion, responding in emphatic fashion, “It’s… snake-skin, it’s not like she shot a bear. Calm down people. Props to you Brit, darn haters.” Spears was also defended by perhaps her most famous impersonator, Derrick Barry, who appeared on LGBTQ phenomenon RuPaul’s Drag Race. He advised the star, “Don’t tell your snake from the VMAs. They’ll be terrified.”
Barry was, of course, referring to Spears’ MTV Video Music Awards appearance in 2001. Her performance of “I’m a Slave 4 U” at the ceremony included a tiger in a cage, while Spears herself famously draped a massive albino python over her shoulders. But the staging incurred the wrath of PETA, which argued that the animals had been unfairly treated.
In fact, the animal rights organization was so unimpressed by Spears’ antics that they dropped plans to work with the star. PETA had been due to feature the singer on a billboard advertisement decrying the use of fur in fashion. But after watching her snake-led appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards, they had second thoughts.
Although Spears never issued an apology for the performance, in 2016 she did admit that she regretted it. Referring to the decision to feature a snake in an interview with E! News, she said, “It’s insane! Why did I do that? It’s so dumb!” When asked whether she would ever be willing to replicate the performance, Spears responded, “Hell no.”
Spears hasn’t yet responded to the furore over her unworn snakeskin shoes, but she’s certainly not averse to communicating with her critics on social media. In May 2019 Spears, sporting black eyeliner and a flowery cropped blouse, answered to detractors who argued that she doesn’t post her own Instagram videos.
A defiant Spears told her followers, “For those of you who don’t think I post my own videos, I did this video yesterday. So, you’re wrong. But I hope you like it.” However, a message posted soon after the fallout over her controversial snakeskin pic suggests that she’s now adopting a new approach.
Spears wrote on Instagram, “Living in LA is such a trip! It can be lonely at times. You never know who to trust, and some people can be fake. I have a very small circle of friends, and simply do what makes me happy! It breaks my heart to see the comments on my posts sometimes… so I simply choose not to look anymore… let the clever haters do what they do best… hate!”