Early in her music career, she and fellow Mickey Mouse Club alum Britney Spears were constantly compared and depicted as rivals. Now, in a new interview, the 37-year-old singer is sharing her side of the story.
“It’s hard to hear yourself being called names,” she tells Cosmopolitan in the cover story of their September issue. “I remember being hurt by these commercials on MTV, pitting Britney as the good girl and me as the bad girl. It’s like, if I’m going to be demure and innocent, that’s OK. But if I’m going to just be myself, I’m trouble.”
Aguilera went on to add that, although criticism can be painful, her real issue is with men determining womens’ definition of beauty, in media and beyond.
“I love the female body, and I think it’s something to be proud of, not something that men should dictate ownership of,” she says. “[My 2002 song] ‘Dirrty’ was extremely controversial at the time, but it would be nothing now. I hope I paved the way and helped set the ground rules that women can be any version of themselves they wanna be…and proud of it.”
She also doesn’t shy away from discussing her dating life and why she's never really been romantically involved with another person in the spotlight.
“I’ve had opportunities, but it isn’t my style to date another person in the business. There’s gotta be something wrong with you if you want to be in this business," she explains. "I mean, hi! I definitely have my issues. I think that I can only handle one [celebrity] in the relationship, and I need to be it.”
The mother of two goes on to discuss getting back on the road to promote her new album, Liberation, and how she’s managing to keep things fresh for her live performances.
“With this record, I'm stripping back a lot and just trying to find myself again—just the true love and the art in the process, and not just going for some formulaic sort of force-fed direction that we can get caught up in,” she states. “So I want to flip it on its ear and I want to do something completely unexpected from a pop-formatted show—a fresh perspective that I've never done this of a tour before—super creative, super interesting.”
Aguilera’s Cosmopolitan cover story hits newsstands on Sept. 4.