On Wednesday night, Britney Spears will be back in the public eye as a celebrity judge on Fox's The X Factor, ending a hiatus that goes back to December of 2011 and the end of her Femme Fatale tour.
Did you know that Britney is 30? Britney Spears is 30. That means it's been 14-ish years since she released her debut single, "...Baby One More Time," and it's been a strange ride. The two-day marriage to her childhood friend; the two-year marriage to K-Fed; the head-shaving incident; a stint in rehab; loss of custody of her kids; a visit to the psych ward at UCLA Medical Center—we have great sympathy for Britney and her struggles. But all that baggage makes it kind of hard to remember why we fell in love with her in the first place.
It was not always thus. About a decade ago, when Britney was 19, 20, 21-years-old, she was just a young girl who sang sexy songs, made sexy videos, and took sexy pictures for magazines. As you watch her, flawed and mortal as we know she is, passing judgment on fresh-faced talent on The X Factor, take a moment to think of Britney as we once knew her—that is, back when we didn't really know her so intimately.
Here, to jog your memory, are 30 must-see pictures of Britney Spears in her prime.