In a New York Times opinion piece today, Tamblyn noted that “Britney Spears is not the only woman in the public eye who has long been privately controlled, but she may be one of the first women in a very long time to give such a damning public record of it.”
Spears shocked the world this week by testifying in a Los Angeles conservatorship hearing about the enormous control her father has over her life, finances and even her reproductive capabilities. She maintained she was forced to have an IUD inserted to prevent a new pregnancy. All of this came out in an effort to remove her father’s longstanding conservatorship over her. It marked the first time that many heard her complaints about the restrictions, and her remarks rippled through fans, the media and her entertainment industry supporters.
Tamblyn began as a child actress, starring in Joan of Arcadia and later in long stints in House and Two and a Half Men. She became the driving economic force of her middle class family, and said in the Times there is a line that is crossed when families become too deeply involved in their child’s career.
“But as someone who has experienced a small taste of what Britney has gone through, I know that what she has done is a profoundly radical act,” said Tamblyn, “one that I hope will ripple through the bodies and bank accounts of women across industries for generations to come. By speaking up, she has reminded us that our autonomy, both bodily and fiscal, is worth fighting for.”
Tamblyn’s account detailed how her parents became advisers on her finances and career choices. While the relationship remains friendly, Tamblyn acknowledges her discomfort about their roles, which often impeded normal family conversations and eventually became an emotional wedge.
“I was everyone’s A.T.M.,” Tamblyn wrote. “A bank that was, nonetheless, unconditionally loved. Still, as I got older, it got harder to trust the source of that love.”
Tamblyn admitted that her own level of discomfort doesn’t rise to the level of Spears. “But I can see how easy it would have been to slip into those dynamics. In these situations, some kind of damage is invariably done — a stunting of the ability of an individual to grow and make the most basic of decisions, or practice good boundaries. When I finally parted professional ways with my parents, they couldn’t help but feel as if they had done something wrong. But they hadn’t. Money had.”