Christina Aguilera's most dramatic transformations

Christina Aguilera likely provided the soundtrack to much of your childhood and/or teenage years. A bonafide superstar, the pop powerhouse has changed musical styles about as often as she's changed up her look — which, for the record, has been a common occurrence throughout the singer's career. 

After debuting — and losing — on Star Search, Aguilera certainly didn't let that her get down. She went on to make numerous hit records, carving out a name for herself as a bonafide pop star. The "Genie in a Bottle" songstress has never been one to remain all bottled up, however — constantly expressing her evolving interests, musical tastes, and ideals through both her creative works and her outward appearance. No matter the look, you can be sure Aguilera has made a headline for it. That's just the show-stopping, attention-grabbing kind of gal she is. Here's an inside look at Aguilera's evolving styles, from the very beginning. 

Quintessential 90s girl with a gigantic voice

Everyone gets their start somewhere. For little Christina Aguilera, that somewhere just happened to be national television. The year was 1990 and Star Search was in its prime. Hosted by famed announcer Ed McMahon, the popular talent show was Aguilera's first television appearance. She sang the heck out of "A Sunday Kind of Love," belting the beyond-her-years lyrics with the signature growl audiences have come to know and love. Dressed in a super sparkly black sweater, complete with straight bangs and a half ponytail, Aguilera's look could best be described as quintessential 90s girl. Totes adorbs. 

With those pipes and undeniable stage presence, Aguilera was a shoe-in for the win, right? Wrong. The future chart-topper lost to Christopher Eason, and it seems that Aguilera hasn't forgotten the first boy to break her heart. "My mom made me, you know, be a good sport, go up and congratulate Christopher Eason," the star told Jay Leno in 2012 about her losing experience. Diva who?

Overshadowing her rival Britney, even as a teen

Luckily for pop fans everywhere, Aguilera didn't let her Star Search loss get her down. Instead, she went on to star alongside some of the biggest names of 90s music (and Ryan Gosling) as a member of the coolest club in town. The long-running Mickey Mouse Club was all the rage in its time, and be warned — the opening credits will hit you with the 90s nostalgia feels hard

Four years after her Star Search appearance, young Aguilera had ditched her straight bangs and half-pony for teased, wavy locks. With a little more height and a lot more confidence, one episode saw Aguilera belting her rendition of Aretha Franklin's "Think" as she strutted around on stage, taking total control of her moment. As Us Weekly noted, watchful eyes can spot a young Britney Spears, Aguilera's infamous frenemy, acting as a backup dancer for the girl who would go on to be her most notable competition. 

Whooo iiiis that girl I see?

Star Search and The Mickey Mouse Club gave Aguilera a small taste of the spotlight, and she was hooked — even after the feelings of self-doubt that came with watching her former costars' careers blossom before her eyes. "I would watch Britney [Spears] and the N'Sync guys on [Total Request Live] and I'd feel proud of them, but also, part of me was like, 'Okay, when am I finally gonna come out?'" she mused in a 1999 interview with Entertainment Weekly.

According to the star, a "random phone call" from her manager changed her career. He asked her to record herself singing "the high E above middle C" with Whitney Houston's "I Want to Run to You," and overnight the tape to Los Angeles. That tape scored Aguilera the coveted prize of being the voice behind Mulan's "Reflection," one of Disney's most beloved original tunes. The Reflection music video features the 18 year-old Christina all grown up and gorgeous — her signature blonde locks chopped into a layered, face-framing bob.

This is when her good-girl image died

As she told Entertainment Weekly in that 1999 interview, the high E above middle C proved itself to be "the note that changed [Aguilera's] life." Not only did her epic range secure Aguilera a place within the Disney princess universe, it also scored the teen a record deal with RCA Records. Ron Fair, the artists & repertoire head at RCA Records, told Rolling Stone, "She was put on this earth to sing." Her fans clearly agreed

"Genie in a Bottle," Aguilera's debut single, was so catchy, it was impossible to ignore. The song's music video had the same effect, showing Aguilera writhing about on top of a convertible with some impressive bellydancing skills. The star's layered, platinum blonde bob had grown to her shoulders, and her teal eyeshadow and glossy lip inspired teen girls everywhere to totally up their Claire's makeup game. While some critics considered the contents of the song a bit too risqué for the barely-legal songstress (Entertainment Weekly called it "uncomfortably adult"), the 90s jam will forever be known as one of Aguilera's catchiest tunes. 

Hey sista, you're going a little too urban

Despite her first album's success, Aguilera wasn't satisfied with the early direction of her career. In a 2002 Newsweek interview, Aguilera reminisced on her "fluffy" debut album, saying, "It was made for that pop time when there was no real substance behind the music." Fluffy as it may have been, her self-titled first album won Aguilera the Best New Artist Grammy at the 2002 awards ceremony. 

But she had aspirations greater than winning awards for songs she wasn't passionate about: "I just get really bored with sticking to the norm and having the proper conservative image," she told MTV in 2002. One of her first moves in that direction was lending her talents to "Lady Marmalade," the hit song from Moulin Rouge! Though she told MTV that many executives said the song was "too urban" for her, the powerhouse persisted — and with an unmistakably new urban image. Aguilera would probably prefer to not be reminded of the dreadlocks she sported from 2001 to 2002, but the internet forgets nothing.

Words can't bring her down

Christina Aguilera's emotional song "Beautiful," perhaps her most famous work, made its debut in 2002 on Aguilera's fourth studio album, Stripped. However, the provocative pop tune, "Dirrty" was actually the first single she released from that album — a move critics like Rolling Stone quickly took issue with. "It's a shame," read the Rolling Stone album review. "The song completely misrepresents the rest of the album." 

However, the Rolling Stone review went on to praise Stripped for being "an album for grown-ups," noting its overarching message of being true to oneself. "Beautiful," is a shining example of that message, finding itself as an anthem for marginalized voices of the LGBTQ community. In a 2012 interview, Aguilera thanked them, saying, "Even when I felt I couldn't stand, [the LGBTQ community] helped me up and supported me." The Stripped era saw a softer side of Aguilera. Much like her album, she stripped her look closer to the basics, sporting long, blonde and black locks, as well as signature 90s crop tops and a bare — ahem, stripped — belly.

First comes loves, then comes marriage, then comes a baby... and a sweet new mom image

In 2005, three years after the release of Stripped, the superstar became engaged to music executive Jordan Bratman. According to People, the couple met in 2002 when Bratman was employed by Aguilera's management company, AzoffMusic Management. In 2008, three years after their nuptials, the couple welcomed their first child together, Max Liron Bratman. 

To commemorate the special day, Aguilera released an adorably sweet music video set to "Save Me From Myself," a song from her 2006 album, Back to Basics. The video featured never-before-seen footage from Aguilera and Bratman's wedding — the star-turned-blushing-bride could be seen glowing as she shared a romantic first dance with her new husband. Between clips of the wedding, Aguilera crooned the romantic ballad with a lone guitar accompanist, while donning a very "back to basics" look — minimal makeup, long layered locks, flared denim, and a modest, light-grey sweater. To say that love looked good on Aguilera would be an understatement. 

She's a sexy "bionic" woman post-divorce

Unfortunately, good things often come to an end — and such was the case for Aguilera and Bratman's marriage. Aguilera filed for divorce in October 2010. She told People that, upon returning home from filming the musical movie Burlesque, things in her marriage "didn't feel quite right." The star noted that the decision wasn't just about her: "When you're unhappy in your marriage, your children are the ones who suffer. … That's the last thing I wanted for my son."

But through dark times come light once again. June 2010 saw the release of Bionic, an album which Billboard described as having a "choppy, postmodern vibe." The electronic-inspired album was quite a change for the pop star, but Aguilera has never been afraid to switch up her sound — or her look. The Bionic era saw an old-school Hollywood glam version of Aguilera, often sporting a bold, red lip and slicked-back blonde tresses. "I've never felt [...] more sexy in my life than I do now," the star told Billboard

Weight gain and the brutal media backlash

It's a good thing Aguilera isn't afraid of change, because the years after her split from Bratman saw a whole boatload of just that. Aguilera began dating production assistant Matt Rutler, whom she met on the Burlesque set. In the midst of her romantic drama, Aguilera also began a new career venture as one of the original coaches on NBC's The Voice in April 2011. 

While it was an exciting time, the star was still recovering from her share of prior hardships. Burlesque was a box office flop; she was criticized for her performance of "The Star Spangled Banner" at the 2011 Super Bowl; she and Rutler were arrested. All this, while she was still dealing with the fallout of her divorce. It had been a stressful time, and Aguilera packed on some extra pounds while coping. She looked beautiful and felt confident, but the media wasn't going to let her weigh gain slide by unnoticed. Aguilera's response? "My boyfriend [loves] my body. My son is healthy and happy, so that's all that matters to me."

Peeling back the layers to reveal the true Aguilera

In March 2018, Paper published a feature on the starlet titled: "Christina Aguilera is Back with Another Transformation." But it wasn't really a transformation at all. Instead, it was more of an unveiling of the real Aguilera. Paper published jaw-dropping photos of the star — up close and personal in all her bare-faced, freckled glory. And much like Paper's infamous Kim Kardashian feature, these photos broke the internet — and drew some spot-on comparisons to 90s-era Meg Ryan.

"I'm at the place, even musically, where it's a liberating feeling to be able to strip it all back and appreciate who you are and your raw beauty," the songstress told Paper about her new look. After years of changing styles, it's safe to say Aguilera's 2018 "raw beauty" is her most low-maintenance look yet. However, don't assume the star has given up her more dramatic looks for good. "I'm a girl that likes a beat face, let's not get it twisted," Aguilera joked.