Hey there, Christina Aguilera, it’s been a minute. Nice to see you. Xtina here was finishing her Vegas residency when Covid hit, which I suspect is why it felt like we hadn’t heard from her — or more accurately, heard her — in a while, though she recorded two songs for the new Mulan, one of which I stumbled on the other day. Her voice really is superb; it hits me again every time how much power she has, and it’s so clearly unmistakably her. I don’t think she and Kelly Clarkson were ever on The Voice at the same time, were they? Because I would love to hear those two go at it in a battle duet during a finale.

Anyway: It’s the beauty issue of Health, and while I am not in love with the pose or the photo itself — she looks sleepy — I like how stripped-down and simple they kept it with Xtina’s styling and particularly makeup. I think toward the end of her time on The Voice she was wearing a lot of very theatrical corsets and heavy face paint, which is fine of course, but it means that — even though she’s obviously made up here — this does have a nice back-to-basics, let-me-retintroduce-myself effect. I like this photo better:


It just feels more connected, and also… less like she’s trying to figure out what the hell to do with that random old tan bedsheet someone handed her.

The interview is not terribly long, but it yielded this, which was noteworthy to me for two reasons:

“I really got a moment to do little things, like be in my backyard, read books that had been on my to-read list, and go through my old diaries. I have this massive trunk of old diaries that I’ve literally kept from the past 20 years of my life. I was able to catch up on them and do some self-reflecting. It really forced me to be silent and take a look at myself. In some regard, I wasn’t happy with a lot of things, and it’s scary to face those feelings that, under normal circumstances, you don’t have time to face because everyone is going, going, going. That grind is praised, but I think we’re all understanding that having moments to self-reflect and just breathe are crucial. I’ve been working since I was 7 years old. When I’m not working, there’s a heavy amount of guilt that I feel. It’s been embedded in me since I was little—you’re shamed if you don’t want to keep up. As a child [entertainer], you’re all pitted against one another, and other children are all about that grind too. It’s a weird space to grow up in.”

1) That last part is extremely enlightening and quite sad. Tease that out and apply it to any number of Disney or Nickelodeon kid stars, or pop singers, and I think it explains how so many of them get so chewed up. There’s no break. It reminds me of when we were writing YA, and there was a notion that you needed to churn out two books a year because theoretically you have a limited time before that target age bracket ages out of your work. The double whammy of pitting kids against each other for multi-hyphenate stardom and expecting them to hustle is toxic. You get a sense of that in Jessica Simpson’s book, where she talks about how much everyone on her team had an eye on Britney and how they compared. It is a LOT to do to a kid.

2) Speaking of Jessica Simpson, that part up top about her journals caught my eye, as those were the inspiration for a lot of Jessica’s book. Christina, CAN WE GET A MEMOIR PLEASE. DARE WE HOPE. You know this woman has stories and receipts for days. Think about it, Xtina. We’re here for you.

[Photographed by Coliena Rentmeester; the May 2021 issue of Health is on newsstands April 17]