NEW YORK – Britney Spears is not as innocent as she's claimed in the past, according to the latest issue of People magazine.
The Louisiana pop tart told the magazine she's sick of pretending she's someone else -- for example, claiming that she's never had sex. The 20-year-old also said it's OK if she has a drink now and then -- she's just doing what everyone else her age does.
"Smoking, drinking, sex -- why is it such a big deal with me? As you get to 20, you grow up, you experiment," she said. "You feel more comfortable in your skin."
Spears has had a rash of bad press recently: She gave photographers the finger, broke up with long-term boyfriend Justin Timberlake and angered fans when she walked off stage after only a few songs during a concert in Mexico.
Some have speculated that the good-girl teen idol has gone bad. But celeb watchers say episodes like these are inevitable for stars who are constantly in the public eye.
"A girl can only be so good," said E! Online writer Mark Armstrong. "These are just moments where a pop star is caught off-guard or caught acting normal."
Teen Beat editor Damon Romine agreed: "In reality, it's just Britney being a girl her age."
Spears described her own breakup with 'N Sync's heartthrob as "horrible."
"Very upsetting and it took a lot out of me," said Spears. "He was my first real love, and I doubt I'll ever be able to love anyone like that ever again."
The webmaster of one Spears fan site said some followers were put off by her recent moves, but most of them realize she's had a rigorous schedule and rocky personal life recently.
"Some of them are disappointed. They're not understanding why she's doing it," said Ruben Garay, 20, who runs Worldofbritney.com. "But most fans understand that she is just fed up with everything. The reason why all these things are happening is that she just needs a break."
And she's getting one. Spears recently announced that she’ll take six months off to re-evaluate her life.
No doubt part of the widespread publicity stems from the simple pleasure the public gets in seeing a larger-than-life star acting so, well, human.
"What people find most amusing is to see Britney act like a real person," Armstrong said.