Christina Aguilera is as much of a “fighter” now as she was when she wrote that famous song with the same name. While the culture at the time was pushing for a squeaky clean pop princess, Christina was determined to explore every facet of her womanhood.
After winning the Grammy for best new artist following the monumental success of her self-titled debut album in 2000, Christina’s 2002 Stripped era saw a whole new direction from the star. She took the reigns and complete control over her music, lyrics and image at just 21 – the same age the album is now. Her output was bold, fearless, empowered, sexual, unstoppable and… surprise surprise, divisive… and the track list and videos — especially Dirrty — left some audiences outraged. Christina muddied her “good girl” image by openly exploring and savouring her sexuality, which of course, made her a “bad girl”. And she visibly shifted her image from a butter blonde girl-next-door to a two-toned provocateur with a topless album cover.
Today, as we speak, her ethos hasn’t shifted. “Don’t conform for someone else’s comfort level,” she tells GLAMOUR. The key thing Christina’s learnt along the way? “To suppress is to suffer. I like to live by that,” she says.
And, she remains as steadfast in her self-discovery. “I don’t like to be swayed by other people’s opinions. I think it’s important to have a grounding sense of self. Sometimes that feels rebellious, sometimes that feels subtle and vulnerable, and there’s strength and beauty in all of those elements as a woman, I think,” she muses. It’s what’s brought her to the two projects we’re discussing today. One, a very personal new fragrance launch, the other, Playground, the sexual wellness brand she co-founded to throw open the conversation around sexual exploration.
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“In my entire career, I’ve always been someone who’s been very outspoken and comfortable, especially since I grew up in an industry that was very male-dominated. I was always told how I should dress and what I should wear, skewed from a male point of view,” Christina tells GLAMOUR. “As I grew to be older, I stepped more into empowering myself and listening to my authentic voice and what that means to me,” she says.
“You get to an age too, where you start accepting yourself more and more. You don’t care so much what other people think and it’s very empowering. You start to outgrow being so hard on yourself. Even though I’ve always been sort of fearless and I’ve spoken up, you really start to embrace that more, and dig into that sense of self. I just don’t have time for all the nonsense anymore. I think it’s all about awareness, accepting and nurturing yourself.”
For Christina, this meant advocating for women’s autonomy and enjoyment of their bodies. “I realised how the topic of sexuality and sexual wellness and awareness for oneself as a woman can be seen as so shameful, something many women don’t want to talk about, or something viewed by a man as something negative to label even if they’re just empowering themselves,” she explains.
Playground’s aim is to push the conversation around female pleasure. “As women, we go through our entire lives with our bodies changing. We think nothing about going into a drugstore and picking up moisturiser for your face or your body, but we neglect our epicentre: sexual health and our vagina,” she says. “It’s a beautiful thing to be able to promote something that I’ve always done — either musically with my performances on stage, or in conversation — for women all over the world to celebrate their bodies and talk about this really important factor in their lives.”
Christina also sees Playground from a holistic point of view and considers it an important part of health and wellness. “We wanted to do something that is also good for your body, since so many companies dominating the space were made by men with men in mind with no idea how to cater to female anatomy, what women might like, and what is actually good for us,” Christina says. “Playground is plant-based and has all good nutrients. I like to describe it as a vitamin for my vagina.”
Playground also hopes to close “the orgasm gap” after a study found that only 39% of women regularly orgasm during sex — compared to 91% of men.
“Women have been highly neglected in the conversation about sexual wellness, feeling good about exercising and exploring what’s out there, and what we can do to better please ourselves,” she says. “In order to have a great sex life, you have to know what you like first. There’s different areas of the female body that you can orgasm from, and it takes time to really get to know what works for you. Your body also changes before kids, after kids, as you get older. Every woman is different. These intimacy products can be brought to the table in any stage of your life and help you get into the mood, sustain the moment, and figure out what’s most pleasurable to you.”
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Formulated with adaptogens, botanical aphrodisiacs, and skin-soothing plant oils like ashwagandha (which is known for its relaxing properties), Mood Maker isn’t your mother’s lubricant: It’s an intimacy oil that helps to ease muscle tension and enhance pleasure and libido.
Meanwhile its notes of vanilla, sandalwood, rose, and ylang ylang help to awaken your senses—and smell great — too. Sounds fun, right? Hence the name, Playground. “Your body is a playground,” Christina points out. “That’s why it’s fun, because it’s giving you the opportunity to explore your body. Nobody can tell you how to. Women have been so neglected in the sexual wellness space that now’s the time to really push open the door and explore your sexuality and your vagina the same way that you would celebrate your hair or a good moisturiser for your lips, or your face, or your body.”
For what it’s worth, Christina still feels just as passionately about embracing nudity as she did back when her “naked Sundays” grabbed headlines in 2007. “There’s nothing wrong or shameful about the naked body. Sometimes in certain spaces, there might be a level of appropriateness, so there’s a time and place,” she says. “But as far as enjoying your body and being able to look in a mirror and feel confident with yourself — it’s really healthy that women are supporting women in a strong and helpful way to talk about bodies and being naked, that we have the right to orgasm, and we have the right to feel as sexually confident as a male would in his body and how he feels empowered by sex.”
But while these are important topics, Christina’s not afraid to have fun with it either. Her “vagina nails” manicure made headlines earlier this year after she decorated her fingernails with teensy little labias. “The vagina nails were also about being creative – using colours I liked and being proud of what I have. It’s about going against the grain of being labelled or held to other people’s standards or judgments about it,” Christina tells us. Her attitude is very much DGAF.
Undeniably, Christina has always wielded beauty as a way to express herself. “I’ve definitely not been a stranger to ‘daring’ beauty looks throughout the course of my career,” she agrees when we probe. “What haven’t I done in the name of daring beauty efforts – whether it be fashion, makeup, hair?” she asks. “Being unique and true to yourself is super important to me. I’ve bared my skin, my heart, my soul, my pride, but all in the name of having fun and being fearless.
As for her favourite beauty moments, “I really kicked it off with my Stripped album because it was the first time that I got to properly express myself and do things that I wanted to do,” she says about coming full circle. “It was all about tapping into different sides of myself – so getting to experiment with black and blonde hair and braids. Also, the Fighter video – the lashes! I’m never afraid of a good lash or a strong lip. Back To Basics had a lot of interesting old glam, classic Hollywood inspo. I’ll always lean towards things that are a little bit more expressive and bold. I think there’s a time and a place for natural, but I definitely like to become different characters with my beauty,” she says.
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Likewise, “smell has always been really important to me,” Christina confides. “Everyone who knows me knows I have a very sensitive sense of smell. I need specific scented candles around me in my house, hotel rooms and dressing rooms. I do believe that scent can alter mood and desire. For me, it comforts, soothes and empowers – and I think for everyone. I find florals sort of lean more feminine and vibrant, and muskier undertones are more sexy, confident, and mysterious,” she says.
That’s why she’s re-entered the perfume arena with the launch of her latest scent, Xtina. “I love my fragrances to embody elements of sensuality, strength, and seductiveness,” Christina explained. “Xtina was created with warm, earthy base notes and a mix of fiery femininity and fresh vibrance,” she describes. The notes blend raspberry champagne with sugared rose petals and oakmoss.
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“I’ve always loved a mixture of feminine florals and muskier undertones. Xtina represents the bold and mysterious sides of me.”
Diptyque Roses Scented Candle
“Even in my daily life, whether it’s in the bedroom or showing up to my dressing room and setting the tone and setting the mood, mood is a big deal, lighting all of that. But in that case too, candles are a big thing for me. My scent and my sense of smell, and how things come off to me is really important. I’ve learned that over the years, and getting pickier as I get older as well, and knowing what I like and what I don’t.
Diptyque has this scent, Roses, that makes me feel just super feminine and super loved. It gives me a lot of self-love vibes with the roses scent. So that’s step one, setting the mood and tone with roses. Everything from the light of the candle to lighting it is very calming for me.”
Playground Mood Maker
“Of course, we need to talk about Mood Maker, which is amazing in every sense, whether you’re using it as a daily moisturiser or for yourself in the bedroom or with a partner. This product goes outside of just being pleasurable in the bedroom. It’s a moisturiser. It’s an aphrodisiac for your vagina. And it enhances your mood with the scent. Keyword: ‘mood maker.’”
Lelo Gigi 2 Personal Massager
“It’s so great to just experiment with yourself, bringing in toys. Vibrators are always really fun. So whether you’re in a relationship, whether you’re not, these are intimacy products that can be shared or personalised to your liking. I love a good vibrator, so we’re going to say the Lelo vibrator.”
070 Shake Vinyl
“I think setting the music, so a little ambient music. Currently, I’m into 070 Shake, which is a really cool little vibey mood music.”
Fleur du Mal Lingerie
“Fleur du Mal is a lingerie brand we’re working with that’s so fun. They’ve got so many different designs that I’m loving right now, getting into a Vegas show I’m doing and everything. So we’re really playing with that, lingerie.”
Coochy Shave Cream
“There’s this really good-smelling cream gel that’s for shaving and it’s the most hilarious name to me. It’s called Coochy. So Coochy shave cream gel. It smells so good. It comes in Frosted Cake, and it smells very yummy. I love using that.”
Lord Jones High CBD Body Lotion
“There’s a body lotion that I really love. I even use it on my kids. They love their little footsies rubbed and things. It’s Lord Jones CBD body lotion.”
Chapstick Total Hydration Vitamin Lip Oil
“I’m obsessed with moisturising my lips. My lips have got to be moisturised at all times, so it’s laughable how many different lip balms, and lipsticks, and lip gels, and pots of gloss. I’m just obsessed, so I literally have 10 by my bedside at all times. But one I think that I really liked was basic and affordable, Chapstick. It’s a vitamin lip oil. It comes in a tube, and that’s a big favourite. It’s highly moisturising.”
Danielle Sinay is the associate beauty editor at GLAMOUR US. Follow her on Instagram @daniellesinay.
For more from GLAMOUR’s Beauty Editor, Elle Turner, follow her on Instagram @elleturneruk
Parts of this article originally appeared on GLAMOUR US.
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