The singer appeared on Star Search at age 9 and went on to join the cast of The All New Mickey Mouse Club as a teen. And before she'd even turned 20, she'd signed a deal with RCA Records, landed a job with Disney to record "Reflection" for Mulan, released her self-titled album and won a Best New Artist Grammy.
Still, living in the limelight wasn't easy. In a new interview with Health, the artist, now 40, looked back at the early days of her career and how she felt insecure about her body.
"I think we all have our good days and our bad days in how we feel about ourselves," she told the magazine for its May issue. "Entering this business, I hated being super skinny. Once I turned 21, I started filling out a little bit, and I was loving my new curves. I appreciated having a booty. I've always said that women are way more interesting to look at than men! I have a hard time looking at the early pictures of myself because I remember feeling so insecure."
Over the years, Aguilera has learned to love the skin she's in. "I would never want to relive my 20s—you're so in your own head and finding your confidence," she continued. "As you age, you stop comparing yourself to other people and start appreciating your own body and owning it."
And she hopes to teach these lessons of self-love to her children: Max, 13, and Summer, 6.
"I am really careful if my daughter is there when I am doing photo shoots," Aguilera told the publication. "I want to make sure that when she sees Mommy in hair and makeup that she realizes that's not what's important. If she needs my attention, I stop everything and look into her eyes and listen to her. I want to make sure she understands that this is part of Mommy's work, but that it's what I create that matters more. There's no right or wrong way when it comes to my kids. I just really try to encourage them to be their own selves."
During the interview, Aguilera also spoke about how she experienced trauma in her childhood and how she battled with anxiety and depression. As the Grammy winner noted, "I am not ashamed to say that I have my dark moments."
"No matter what I've been through—successes, childhood trauma, hardships—I still have a fighting spirit," she later said. "I never want to stop learning and growing to be the best person I can be."