The transformation of Christina Aguilera from toddler to 39 years old

Christina Aguilera has managed to reinvent herself almost as many times as her musical icon Madonna over the years. A child of the '80s, Aguilera grew up during the height of the Queen of Pop's reign, but, as she shared on The Zane Lowe Show in 2020 (via People), she was forbidden from listening to Madge's music when she was young. Xtina only "discovered [Madonna's] catalog and her videos and the fact that she had such a message" later on. "That was a big inspiration for me to want to change it up, to want to keep pushing, to grow," she said.

The Staten Island-born pop superstar has been through quite the image evolution since her Irish-American mother and Ecuadorean father welcomed her into the world, and we've got the pictures to prove it. From precocious toddler to proud mum, let's take a look at the stunning transformation of Christina Aguilera.

Christina Aguilera felt 'caged' by her childhood

When Christina Aguilera was six years old, her parents split up. Christina's mother, Shelly Kearns, left ex-husband Fausto Aguilera because of an alleged violent streak. Kearns told E! (via Daily Mail) that Fausto once lashed out at a young Christina after she woke him from a nap, allegedly drawing blood. The former U.S. Army sergeant has denied ever raising a hand to his children, but his famous daughter has indicated that he was indeed abusive. "I felt caged by my childhood," she told W magazine. "And unsafe. Bad things happened in my home. There was violence."

It was a hard time for Christina, but she learned some important life lessons. "I watched my mom have to be submissive, watch her Ps and Qs or she's gonna get beat up," the singer told Paper magazine. "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." Christina told Latina that she was considering reconnecting with her estranged father in 2012, and in 2016 she shared two cute daddy-daughter snaps taken during his Army days. The family moved around a lot back then, going wherever Sergeant Aguilera happened to get stationed. They lived in New Jersey, Texas, and even Japan at one stage. 

Music was an escape for Christina Aguilera

Madonna was blacklisted in Christina Aguilera's house when she was a little girl, so she found herself a more age-appropriate role model. The youngster was enamored by Julie Andrews' performance in The Sound of Musicand when things got tough at home, she would belt out songs from the musical at the top of her tiny lungs. "I watched her twirl around those mountains, and she was just so free," Aguilera told W magazine, explaining how the film became "a form of release" for her. "I would open my bedroom window to sing out like Maria," she recalled. "In my own way, I'd be in those hills."

The Sound of Music offered Aguilera some good old fashioned escapism during a dark period in her life, but there came a time when she started craving songs she could relate to on a more personal level. It was her maternal grandmother who helped scratch this itch, taking her to record stores and introducing her to music with more serious themes. "At a really early age I connected with old soul and blues," Aguilera told Newsweek. "There's a lot of pain and angst in those songs. They spoke to my life before I moved in with my grandma — my father, all the abuse I endured."

Christina Aguilera came second in a 'fixed' TV talent show

Christina Aguilera started performing to her stuffed animals when she was just two years old, and by the age of six, she'd progressed to actual human audiences. Encouraged by her grandma, Aguilera began singing at block parties in Wexford, the Pittsburgh suburb that her mother grew up in. Aguilera's mom returned to Wexford with her daughters after leaving her husband, and before long, little Christina was a local celebrity. "I was known around the neighborhood as the little girl with the big voice, and I always liked that contrast," she told Newsweek.

According to her mom, Aguilera became "irritable" when she had no events to sing at, so when the chance to appear on TV talent show Star Search came along, they jumped at it. "I was eight, and I sang Whitney Houston's 'Greatest Love of All,'" Aguilera told Rolling Stonerecalling how she cried when she came in second to a 12-year-old named Christopher Eason. "I was told it was fixed, but I'm not going to hold a grudge," she joked. "My mom made me go back out and shake his hand and tell him I was happy he won. Tears were running down my face. Awful." Eason went on to become a barista in Oklahoma City.

Jealous haters tormented Christina Aguilera

According to Rolling Stone, Christina Aguilera was known as "micro-diva" around Wexford by age 10. Her mother knew she was destined for big things ("I've never seen anybody so focused"), and when that fact dawned on those around Aguilera, it made her a target. She got so much hate after her appearance on Star Search that she actually had to switch 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. "The jealously got really bad. People just felt threatened." She was in with "the cheerleader clique" back then, which only made matters worse: "There was already a lot of back-stabbing."

Aguilera went on to reveal that the experience turned her into an "introverted" person, though she tries not to judge her tormentors too harshly when she looks back at that time in her life. She told the music mag: "Kids didn't know how to deal with seeing their peer on TV." Instead of holding grudges, she uses the pain she went through as inspiration for her music. "I have definitely experienced forms of bullying, and that's why it's so important for me also to write songs like 'Beautiful' and songs like 'Fighter,'" she told Dateline.

Christina Aguilera was a Disney Mouseketeer

Undeterred by the haters, Christina Aguilera started singing the national anthem at various sporting events in Pittsburgh, and before long her persistence was rewarded with some good news — Disney wanted to see her about The All New Mickey Mouse Club. Aguilera applied to be on the show a few years earlier, but never heard back. "I just figured I didn't make it," she told Yahoo!. "But when I was 12 years old I got a call back, and they said they had held on to my tape because I was too young for the part before. So I auditioned again, and I got one of the six new spots they filled that year."

Aguilera was part of a particularly talented crop of Mouseketeers. Hollywood actors Ryan Gosling and Keri Russell were among the cast, as were Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. Aguilera and Spears were pitted against one another in the years that followed, and at times they were both guilty of fanning the flame. Their famous feud filled countless column inches in the '00s, and would continue until Aguilera extended an olive branch towards the end of the decade. "We were silly little girls together on The [All New] Mickey Mouse Club," she told the Daily Mail. "What a journey it has been for both of us."

A homemade demo changed Christina Aguilera's life

When The All New Mickey Mouse Club came to an end, Christina Aguilera returned to Japan to release her little-known first single, "All I Wanna Do," a duet with Japanese pop star Keizo Nakanishi. The song did well in Japan, but Aguilera remained a relative unknown in the States. That all changed when her manager sent a makeshift demo of his teenage client singing Whitney Houston's "Run to You" to Disney HQ. Despite the fact that the demo was, as Aguilera told Extra, recorded in her "bathroom ... with a tape recorder," the rendition blew execs away. And so, they asked her to record a song for Mulan.

Speaking to the New York Post, "Reflection" writer David Zippel recalled the moment he listened to Aguilera tackle the song for the first time. "When we heard her sing, it was like, 'Oh my God,'" he said. "Even then it was so palpable. She was a perfectionist even as a 17-year-old." The Disney ballad remains one of Aguilera's most-loved songs to this day. She recorded an updated version for the 2020 live action remake of Mulan, and that also went down extremely well— the music video was viewed over 16 million times in its first six weeks on YouTube.

Christina Aguilera let the genie out of the bottle

One of the first people to fall in love with Christina Aguilera's Mulan song was RCA Records exec Ron Fair, who signed her shortly after hearing it. ("I scored 'Reflection' and my record deal in the same week," Aguilera revealed.) "She is a badass genius of singing," Fair told Rolling Stone in 1999, when the then-18-year-old Aguilera was blowing up. "She was put on this earth to sing."

Aguilera's self titled debut album went eight-times platinum and lead single "Genie in a Bottle" topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for five consecutive weeks. She became an overnight sensation, but she wasn't the driving force behind her sound or her image. Speaking to Paper magazine in 2018, Aguilera said that her first record was "an older label head male's perspective" on what pop music should be. When she was interviewed by People the following year, the five-time Grammy winner urged up-and-coming artists to follow their own instincts. "Looking back, I would just say trust yourself," she said. "Even in your insecurities and your moments of feeling lost, those are all gonna lead you to the place that you need to be."

Christina Aguilera allegedly took a swing at Pink

Christina Aguilera made the leap from suggestive to unashamedly saucy when she collaborated with Mýa, Lil' Kim, and Pink on a number for the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack. The memorable "Lady Marmalade" music video looked like a blast to film, but these soul sisters weren't exactly one big family behind the scenes. Things got off to a bad start when an exec from Aguilera's label allegedly demanded that she get the verse with the highest vocals. This didn't go down well with Pink, who revealed what happened next during a VH1 Behind the Music special: "I stood up and I said, 'Hi, how are you? So nice of you to introduce yourself. I'm Pink. She will not be taking that part. I think that's what the f****** meeting's about.'"

Pink has always been known for her feistiness, but Aguilera apparently held her own. "She swung on me in a club," Pink recalled on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. "Hilarious! I was like, 'What's happening right now?'" They buried the hatchet when they came face to face on The Voice years later. Pink told Cohen: "We became moms. We grew up. We hugged it out. It's that simple. I feel so good about that." Aguilera denied that she tried to punch Pink when she sat down with Cohen a few years later.

Dirrty was Christina Aguilera's 'f*** it' moment

If any doubt remained after "Lady Marmalade", the music video for Christina Aguilera's "Dirrty" confirmed once and for all that she was all grown up. The lead single from 2002's Stripped heralded a new era for the 21-year-old, who was keen to put her "Genie in a Bottle" days behind her. "At the time, I was under the thumb of my label, and I felt like I had to do, say and act out everything they asked me to do," she told Glamour. "I was trying to please them and the public and finally I had to say, 'Enough.'"

The "Dirrty" video has been hailed as "an essential artifact from the popular music landscape of the early 2000s" by Billboard, but it had plenty of critics at the time, some of whom got pretty personal: Entertainment Weekly called Aguilera "the world's skeeziest reptile woman" in a write up, while MTV branded her a "pop tart [who] writhes about in revealing costumes." None of this appeared to bother Aguilera, who was just happy to finally be doing her own thing. "I came out with 'Dirrty', and that was my 'f*** it' moment," she told The Irish Times. "That was me stepping up and saying I was a woman that's proud of my sexuality."

2010 was the year from hell for Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera reinvented herself once more for 2010's Bionic, but the EDM-inspired album didn't go over very well with existing fans and failed to attract new ones. Some accused Aguilera of trying to copy Lady Gaga with her new direction, though the veteran couldn't emulate the newcomer's success. Bionic's poor performance led to Aguilera's big summer tour being canned, reportedly at the cost of millions of dollars. Her label was allegedly considering severing ties and it seemed like things couldn't get much worse for the singer, but they did.

In October 2010, ­Aguilera revealed that she was leaving her music producer husband Jordan Bratman, father of her son, Max. When she spoke to W magazine years later, she explained that she had her child in mind when she made the decision. "At one time or another we were both not angels," she said. "It got to a point where our life at home was reminding me of my own childhood. I will not have my son grow up in a tension-­filled home." It soon became apparent that Aguilera had met someone else. She reportedly fell for ­production assistant Matt Rutler while working on her feature film debut Burlesquewhich, to compound Aguilera's terrible 2010, failed to impress the critics. The now-engaged pair welcomed a daughter, Summer Rain, in 2014.

The Voice was a lifeline for Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera's rotten luck continued into 2011. The experienced singer inexplicably fluffed a line during her national anthem performance at the Super Bowl, and for a while it looked like she would never live it down. The internet was abuzz with the scandalous details almost immediately (her Wikipedia page had been updated before the game had even ended), and there was little sympathy. "This was the biggest performance of her career and she blew it," one eyewitness told MTV. It was a bad time for Aguilera, but a change in fortune was just around the corner.

A few months after her Super Bowl disaster, Aguilera debuted as a coach on The Voice. She was creator Mark Burnett's first choice for the panel, and she was "so excited" to come aboard, she told Entertainment WeeklyHer on-and-off time on The Voice coincided with a career resurgence, but she still threw shade at the show when she left for the last time in 2016. "It became something that I didn't feel was what I had signed up for in season one," she told Billboard. "You realize it's not about music. It's about making good TV moments and massaging a story."

Motherhood looks good on Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera only hung around on The Voice for as long as she did because she was craving some stability. She stopped touring after giving birth to her son, Max, and she still didn't feel like going on the road after the arrival of her daughter, Summer Rain. "Touring is so frightening to me, because I am a mom first," she told Billboard. "It's easy to get comfortable and cushy in the same place and not have to worry about uprooting your kids." Aguilera would eventually work up the courage to get back out there and show the children "what Mommy really does" for a living, following the advice that she gave mothers during an earlier interview with Today.

Speaking after the birth of her daughter, the singer and budding voice actor (Aguilera played Akiko Glitter in 2017's The Emoji Movie and will voice Charlotte Pickles in the upcoming Rugrats film) reminded all the moms out there that they don't need to be defined by their offspring. "As much as we all love our kids, ultimately we all have ourselves that are separate and it's important to have a release just for yourself," she said. "We literally give so much of ourselves. It's important to make time some to be able to find a creative release or pampering release."

Christina Aguilera is a living legend

Christina Aguilera has gone about cementing her place as a true pop icon in recent years. Her 2018 album Liberation was met with positive reviews, and she was named an official Disney Legend the following year. "This is way cooler than a Grammy," Aguilera said as she accepted the honor at the D23 Expo (via Entertainment Weekly). The singer was also recognized for her LGBTQ advocacy in 2019, but perhaps the biggest moment of her year happened on May 31, when she began her Las Vegas residency.

Aguilera's grand show, entitled The Xperience, was a big hit with the local press. The Las Vegas Review-Journal called it a "powerful" production that comes with "a forceful message of individuality and empowerment" after catching it on opening night. A series of shows was scheduled to take place in November 2020, but Xtina was forced to cancel her return to Sin City on account of the coronavirus pandemic. "We all have to continue doing our part and acting responsibly," the mother-of-two said in an apologetic Instagram post. "Everyone's health and safety is our top priority."

COVID-19 has made the future uncertain for musicians, but from what we know about Christina Aguilera, she most definitely won't be hanging up the mic anytime soon.