Christina Aguilera is reflecting on her journey of “embracing sexuality” and taking ownership of her body within the toxic entertainment industry.
The 42-year-old talked to Allure about her early start as a performer in the Mickey Mouse Club, starting when she 7. And although the beginning of her career was certainly innocent, she’s recognized a lot in hindsight how she was made to feel about her body and the lines that were blurred.
“In this business, you’re going to have a lot of opinions coming at you about your body, about your sexuality, what’s too much, what’s too little,” she told the publication. “A lot of it comes from male opinions and older businessmen’s opinions, which should have nothing to do with your body and your self-image.”
Aguilera later recognized that she struggled with bodily autonomy because of the control of external sources — specifically as she was rising to fame with hits like “Genie in a Bottle” and “What a Girl Wants.”
“I wasn’t creatively giving messages that truly embodied who I was,” she explained. “So my sophomore album was called Stripped. People always thought that had a sexual kind of connotation, but if anything, it was me speaking my truth of what it felt like to be me, embracing my body and being a woman outside of other people’s ideals.”
While the music she created as her career went on was meant to celebrate “all different emotions of being a woman,” Aguilera didn’t shy away from visual expressions of her womanhood like “being extroverted and over-the-top and playing with glam and makeup.”
Despite the seemingly superficial aspects, she explained that her mission was to empower other women.
“I’ve always wanted women to feel comfortable enough and safe enough to explore what it is that makes them feel good,” she said. “Embracing sexuality to feel empowered and raw and out there, if that’s the kind of woman that you want to be.”
That mission has followed her into her latest role as cofounder and chief brand advisor of Playground — a women-owned lubricant brand focused on sexual health and wellbeing.
“I like being a part of something that creates things that are not only pleasing but good for you and your vagina, which is the epicenter of everything for us,” Aguilera said. “It’s pleasure, but it can also be painful. It can be the birth of life. The vagina goes through a lot, so we got to let it feel good. We got to make sure we pamper and nurture it.”
It also feels like a step in the right direction for the mother of an eight-year-old daughter, Summer, who Aguilera recognizes is constantly taking cues from her.
“I try to be really conscious about what I put in my body, what my daughter sees me put in my body. We have conversations like, ‘What’s a tampon? What’s your period?’ She’s eight, but education is everything. And breaking down the conversation in digestible components that are easy to understand helps us take the fear and stigma out of things,” she says.
Ultimately, she hopes that she’s taking part in a larger movement to erase stigma and shame when it comes to women’s sexual health.
“Everything across the board as a female, especially pertaining to your body, should be something you feel good about sharing,” she says.