The Stunning Transformation Of Christina Aguilera

It's been more than two decades since Christina Aguilera first burst onto the pop music scene as the petite blonde with the big voice. During that time, Aguilera has released nine albums, won five Grammys, sold over 50 million albums, starred opposite music legend Cher in 2010's "Burlesque," spent six seasons as a judge on NBC's "The Voice," and landed a Las Vegas residency (via People).

And that's without mentioning her five-year marriage to a music producer, finding love again on a movie set, and becoming a mom of two (per Paper Magazine). Throughout it all, Aguilera has managed to reinvent herself over and over again, staying true to her inner artist and her roots.

From a difficult childhood to appearing on "Star Search" and "The All New Mickey Mouse Club" (via IMDb) as a kid — alongside fellow future pop superstars Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake — to navigating her way in the competitive pop music scene, facing very public personal struggles after her 2011 divorce, and becoming the confident woman she is today, this is the stunning transformation of Christina Aguilera.

Christina Aguilera had a tough childhood

Christina Aguilera was born on December 18, 1980, in Staten Island, New York (via Paper Magazine), to her Irish mother and Ecuadorian father, a U.S. Army Sergeant. As a child, the family moved multiple times — from Texas to New Jersey to Japan — because of her father's military work. After her parents divorced when she was 7, Aguilera and her mom moved to her mother's hometown of Wexford, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh, noted Rolling Stone.

In interviews, Aguilera has been open about the domestic abuse she witnessed at home. "I watched my mom have to be submissive, watch her Ps and Qs," she told Paper Magazine, explaining how, as a result, "you can either be, unfortunately, so damaged by it that you take a turn for the worse, or you can feel empowered by it and make choices to never go down that route."

She recalled to W Magazine how, as a young girl, she fell in love with "The Sound of Music" and that, during traumatic moments of her childhood, she'd think of Julie Andrews singing and "twirl[ing] around those mountains." "I would open my bedroom window to sing out like Maria," she described. "In my own way, I'd be in those hills."

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

At 9, she appeared on Star Search before making her Disney Channel debut

It wasn't long before Christina Aguilera wasn't just dreaming about singing like Julie Andrews — she was actually doing it. At 9, Aguilera competed on "Star Search" — and lost. In an interview with W Magazine, she reminisced, saying, "Do we even remember who I lost to? At that age, I always sang songs meant for older people. That fit my personality — I had pain to sing about."

It's a good thing Aguilera kept going despite that initial setback, since just being on a TV talent show is a major accomplishment. Just three years later, in 1993, a then-12-year-old Aguilera landed a sweet gig on the Disney Channel's "The All New Mickey Mouse Club" after making a lasting impression at an open call audition. She appeared on the show alongside fellow future pop superstars Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake and future A-list actor Ryan Gosling. Aguilera's co-star, Nikki DeLoach, recalled to E! News how watching young Aguilera sing was "almost like witnessing something divine."

According to Aguilera, the Disney Channel set was like a "safe haven" for her, since she experienced bullying in school and later changed elementary schools. "Going to a public school in a small town and not being around kids who did what I did made me feel like an outsider," she recalled to Rolling Stone. "The jealou[sy] got really bad. People just felt threatened."

Christina Aguilera burst onto the late '90s pop music scene with Genie in a Bottle

In July 1999, '90s teens were introduced to Christina Aguilera when her video for "Genie in a Bottle" premiered on MTV and hit No. 1 on "Total Request Live" (as well as the charts), as Rolling Stone noted in a 1999 feature. Immediately, we noticed her adorable, fringe-adorned "cropped denim jacket and matching capris" as she danced on the beach (per Harper's Bazaar). In the video, Aguilera looks very much the part of the cool girl we all aspired to be. However, as Rolling Stone noted, while the song introduced her to the masses, it didn't display what she could do with her vocal range.

Aguilera's MTV debut occurred just months after her former "Mickey Mouse Club" co-star, Britney Spears, made her own iconic MTV debut with "Baby, One More Time" (via Rolling Stone). Immediately, comparisons between the two pop stars infiltrated the media, with regular stories circulating regarding the two pop sensations' feud. Interestingly, according to Aguilera, the feud began over Spears' future boyfriend of three years, Justin Timberlake, whom Aguilera described as having "swag" even then (per E! News). However, it was Aguilera who nabbed a Best New Artist Grammy in 2000.

Aguilera places blame on the media, which "at the time, was also big on pitting women against each other. And there was a bullying mentality going on in the tabloids. It's tough to look back on," she explained (via Health).

She was 'creatively unhappy' with the production of her self-titled debut album

Christina Aguilera always had an edge to her, and her self-titled debut album didn't reflect that — or who she was at all. In her opinion, the album and her cutesy look of "midriff-bearing tops" and flared jeans were, as she told Paper Magazine, "what an older label head male's perspective was," and she found herself "creatively unhappy at that time."

Apparently, the label planned to show Aguilera's musical progression over time "by virtue of the singles we put out," Jack Rovner, RCA Records executive vice president and general manager at the time of the 1999 Rolling Stone interview, explained. "You need an introduction and to be embraced by a fervent fan base, so we went with the more youth-oriented song, but ultimately we'll be getting to the big ballads," he said. Echoed Ron Fair, the record executive who signed her: "She is a badass genius of singing. She was put on this earth to sing."

And she was able to do that with her next hit, a collaboration with a few of the top artists of the early 2000s pop and hip hop scene.

She reinvented herself in 2001 and showed her rebellious side with her 2002 follow-up

Probably the first indication Christina Aguilera gave that she was changing up her style was her 2001 collaboration of "Lady Marmalade" — alongside fellow hip hop and pop powerhouses Pink, Lil' Kim, Mýa, and Missy Elliott — featured on the "Moulin Rouge" soundtrack.

The video featured Aguilera with bold eye makeup and an "explosion of blonde crimped hair." She spoke to Vogue about the look in 2021, telling the fashion mag, "The whole concept was really, go big or go home." Not only was the song and video a hit, but it also served as a sort of "stepping stone" for Aguilera's next transformation and enabled her to show off her voice. "It was the first time I was able to sing the way I love to sing," she recalled. "I got to really let loose creatively ... I could belt and do my ad-libs and my runs and be as soulful as I wanted to be. I got to have fun."

Eager to shed her cutesy, teeny bopper image, Aguilera followed up her 1999 self-titled debut album with 2002's "Stripped," which showed off her new look and sound. She referred to its first single, "Dirrty," as a "game-changer." When thinking of that song, you can't forget its iconic music video in which Aguilera showed off her two-toned hair and donned barely-there bikini tops — not to mention "those iconic leather chaps" (per Paper Magazine).

Marriage and motherhood helped Christina Aguilera settle down

In 2002, Christina Aguilera didn't just reinvent her image with the release of the edgy album "Stripped" — she also met the man she would go on to marry: Jordan Bratman, a music executive who worked for her management company.

In November 2005, she married Bratman in a stunning ceremony at a vineyard in Napa Valley, California (per People). Then, on January 12, 2008, Aguilera gave birth to the couple's first child, Max Liron, revealed exclusively by People, which also shared a heartfelt message she posted to her website that day: "Today is a very joyful and special day for Jordan and I as we welcome our first son into this world." The family of three called their Beverly Hills, California, mansion home, according to a 2011 W Magazine article, which claimed that "marriage had seemed to calm Aguilera down" — this could also be seen with the release of her next album (more on that in a bit).

Aguilera has been quoted multiple times over the years regarding motherhood. "We love to just get to lay in bed, cozy under the blankets and watch classic Disney movies," she described via Bustle. "There are two sides to me, which I like to keep very separate. There is a performing Christina, and then there [is] me as a mom."

The singer was all about old Hollywood glamour with her next transformation

Marriage clearly looked good on Christina Aguilera. The change could even be seen with the release of her next album in 2006: "Back to Basics" (via IMDb). By this time, according to a Rolling Stone review of the album, it was clear that Aguilera had overhauled her look after "she married a nice Jewish guy" and "overhauled her style," trading those short, tight, skin-baring outfits for old Hollywood glamour.

Musically, the album also showed the influence of old Hollywood glamour from the 1920s to 1940s, with clear jazz and soul influences. The album, however, received mixed reviews, like this August 2006 review for The Guardian, which gave the album two stars and responded to Aguilera's claim that, with the album, she "inten[ded] to acknowledge 'those before me who laid it down and paved the way' and to follow in their footsteps" with this comment: "Needless to say, she has her work cut out."

Christina Aguilera separated from Jordan Bratman in 2010 before divorcing in 2011

Christina Aguilera and music exec Jordan Bratman tied the knot in November 2005, but, only five years later, her first marriage was over. A week after their separation went public, Aguilera spoke with Redbook. "It's not easy, and there have been a lot of tears and sadness. It's impossible to redefine yourself and your life overnight," she said, describing how grateful she felt for her support system — which included her mom and close friends — to help get her through it. "On days when it feels impossible to even get out of bed, much less function as a mother, their support and encouragement have kept me moving forward."

Aguilera was only 24 when she married and was, apparently, still growing into the person she would become. The star told People that, while filming 2010's "Burlesque," she "had an independence I'd never felt before. I was growing leaps and bounds daily. I went from being a girl to a woman." She said, in the end, she realized that the two "just weren't right for each other."

Then there was also the infidelity — on both sides. The singer admitted to W Magazine that both she and her ex-husband were "not angels," adding, "It got to a point where our life at home was reminding me of my own childhood ... I knew there would be a negative reaction in the press to my divorce, but ... I have to be myself."

She found love again with fiancé Matthew Rutler

In 2010, Christina Aguilera filmed the movie "Burlesque," where she described to W Magazine her journey of "self-discovery" she embarked on while making the film. "On the movie set, I didn't have anyone around me. And it felt good. When I first met my husband, I needed that ­helping hand to take the reins and look after me," she explained. "After the movie, I grew out of being that little girl: I became more of an adult."

This was also when Aguilera fell for her now fiancé, Matthew Rutler, a production assistant working on the film. "I could depend on him for everything," she told the magazine. "Matt was ... so supportive. And he still is. We've been through a lot."

In February 2014, Aguilera announced her engagement to Rutler (via E! News), and, by August of that year, she gave birth to her second child, her first with Rutler, a girl they named Summer Rain, per Elle.

In 2011, the singer struggled personally and professionally

Unfortunately, for Christina Aguilera, the year of 2011 would bring more negative press, both regarding her music and her personal life. Not only did she finalize her divorce from ex-husband Jordan Bratman (via HuffPost), but her 2010 album release, "Bionic," didn't fare any better than her previous album from 2006, "Back to Basics" — in fact, its critical and fan receptions were worse.

According to W Magazine, the album "ventured into new territory," noting that "its techno-fueled sound didn't utilize Aguilera's greatest strength," her powerful voice. The magazine cited Jon Pareles' New York Times review, which referred to the album as "one-dimensional," and even noted alleged rumors that her record label had wanted to cut ties with her at the time.

As Aguilera adjusted to life co-parenting with her ex-husband, she had her new beau, Matthew Rutler, to lean on. However, the media wasn't sure what to make of his presence, as he seemed to almost bring Aguilera bad luck. You might recall her messing up the lines when performing the national anthem at the Super Bowl that year (per Us Weekly). Then there was her March 2011 arrest for "public intoxication" (via The Guardian), which left many shaking their heads that Aguilera was even charged at all — Rutler, the driver of the car, was charged with a DUI — but Aguilera was in the passenger seat (per The Hollywood Reporter).

Christina Aguilera found The Voice wasn't the right fit for her

Though Christina Aguilera started out 2011 on the wrong foot, several months into it, she found herself on a hit TV show. In April 2011, she took her seat in her coach's chair alongside fellow judges Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, and CeeLo Green for "The Voice" premiere on NBC. The show premiered to generally favorable reviews, from critics (Dan Fienberg of Hitfix wrote "'The Voice' delivered an entertaining two hours, far more tightly packed than any 'Idol' audition episode for years") and viewers alike ("A refreshing take on [a] tired old formula"), via Metacritic.

According to Billboard, Aguilera spent six seasons as a coach on "The Voice," winning in Season 10 along with her protegé, Alisan Porter, before deciding to leave the show. Aguilera spoke to People about her decision. She said the show appealed to her because it provided stability, "a more grounded position," for her kids, but explained that, in the end, the show just "wasn't the right fit" for her. "I can't stay in a stagnant place for too long, which is why I think the position I was in with television just became very stifling," she said to Paper Magazine in 2018, the year she left the show. "I need movement, I need to go explore, be an artist, create and transform." A year after departing NBC, she launched her Las Vegas residency, "The Xperience," where she performed until March 2020.

As she gets older, a confident Christina has overcome her setbacks and 'owns' who she is

After wrapping up her Vegas residency in March 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Christina Aguilera had plenty of time at home to reflect. In 2021, she opened up to Health about all the reflecting she did while quarantined at home. "You figure out that life is too short to waste time thinking about what other people think about you," she said. The interviewer was surprised that Aguilera felt this way, especially since she always exuded such confidence in her song lyrics, to which the singer responded, "Yes, I've always been grounded in knowing myself. But even in owning your truth and power, there are moments of weakness."

Aguilera also admitted to Health that she loves her curves and that she "hated being super skinny" in her younger years. "I have a hard time looking at the early pictures of myself because I remember feeling so insecure," she said. "As you age, you stop comparing yourself to other people and start appreciating your own body."

Though Aguilera continues to experiment and reinvent herself, she now knows who she is. "Accepting yourself is what beauty is really about," she said in the interview, adding, "Being able to feel really good about who's staring back at you in the mirror, because you're owning all of it."

The singer is releasing new music and re-embracing her Latin roots

Christina Aguilera has had her successes and setbacks. However, "every setback has catapulted me forward," she told Health in 2021. "I think that's my fighting spirit." A true "fighter" indeed — just as she sings about.

Aguilera is releasing new music, as she told Harper's Bazaar in 2021 — and it's personal. This time, her focus is not on commercial success but to continue to grow as an artist. "It tells a story. It dives into elements of my childhood and is making certain peace with my past," she described the work. "It's been a labor of love. I can cry talking about it and knowing that it's finally going to be released to the world."

Aguilera's other project also has her reflecting on her past — her Latin roots, which she strongly connects with. She explained to Harper's Bazaar that hearing Spanish being spoken and Latin music being played at home was a big part of her childhood. "I wanted to dive in headfirst and truly engross myself in the whole experience," she said. "There's truly nothing like Latin love and Latin music — the way it makes you feel so alive and the passion involved." The last time she released a Spanish-language album, "Mi Reflejo," was 2000. She said she'd wanted to do another for years but "wanted to make sure it was done at the right time with the right people." Sounds right to us.

The star makes sure to relax and recharge

After wrapping up her Las Vegas residency in spring 2020, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Christina Aguilera has enjoyed the slower pace and ability to work on other projects, like starring in a campaign for Nintendo along with her son, Max, and daughter, Summer, in a gig she described to Harper's Bazaar as "fun for the whole family" and "clearly not work."

She explained to the mag that the job "spoke authentically to what we do together," since Aguilera does, in fact, enjoy gaming in her spare time, as it "eases [her] mind," helps her "decompress," and "challenge[s]" her.

We all need some sort of creative or therapeutic outlet we enjoy to recharge, right? "I wear many different hats as a mom, as an entertainer, as a performer, and it can be overwhelming sometimes," she told Harper's Bazaar. "It's been very therapeutic to give myself that mental break." We'd say she deserves it.