Christina Aguilera has gone through it all: from being a Mouseketeer on The Mickey Mouse Club to a spray tan mishap at Etta James’s funeral, to winning Grammy awards and becoming a mom. And on top of that (or because of it) she has a turbulent past with her family that she still has to resolve. Rising to fame alongside Britney Spears and The Backstreet Boys, Aguilera became the antithesis of the clean pop star image that flooded the early 2000s.
Still, she managed to make her way up to the top with her undeniable talent and incredible voice. If you’re curious about just how she went from a troubled childhood to the Grammy’s A-list, then you’re in the right place. This is the story of Christina Aguilera.
Fans of Christina Aguilera’s music may be entranced by her voice and might not know what her early life was really like. She once said, “My whole life has been about ‘fight or flight.’” Her fight or flight instincts came in handy when she witnessed alleged domestic violence.
Since the beginning of her career, Aguilera has spoken out about the abuse she was witnessed in her family, as well as around her neighborhood in Staten Island, NY. “I watched my mom have to be submissive [to my father], watch her Ps and Qs, or she’s gonna get beat up.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t just her mother at the receiving end…
With those early experiences, the future star learned that she had two options in life: either to be damaged by it and take a turn for the worse or feel empowered by it and decide never to go down that route. From an early age, she made it her life’s mission to be a survivor and raise her future children in a loving household.
While some people may sweep their unpleasant experiences under the rug, Aguilera did no such thing. Not only has she spoken publicly about it, but she’s also channeled it into her music. Unlike other pop stars, she writes her own lyrics. And sometimes, they’re a window into her past.
“Hurt me to see the pain across my mother’s face
Every time my father’s fist would put her in her place
Hearing all the yelling, I would cry up in my room
Hoping it would be over soon.”
Take her 2002 ballad I’m OK. Aguilera said that she didn’t write the song in order to shame her father “at all,” but for two reasons: to heal and to give people hope or a voice to relate to. And she really means it – she really wants people to know they “can get through it and that it will be OK,” as she told MTV News. In her case, she’s actually thankful for her darker days.
Christina María Aguilera was born on December 18, 1980, in Staten Island, New York. The now 40-year-old’s mother is German, Irish, Welsh, and Dutch, whereas her father is from Ecuador. The Aguileras moved often because of her father’s military service, living in New Jersey, Texas, New York, and Japan.
To cope with her turbulent childhood, Aguilera used music as a form of escape. After her parents divorced when she was six years old, she, her younger sister Rachel, and her mother moved to live with her grandmother in Rochester, a suburb of Pittsburgh. Her mother remarried and had another son – Aguilera’s stepbrother Michael.
From an early age, she was drawn to soul and blues records that her grandmother bought. The little girl would practice singing, earning herself an early reputation in her neighborhood as “the little girl with the big voice”.
She always knew she would be a singer, and at the age of eight, she won her first talent singing Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me). At 10, she performed A Sunday Kind of Love on Star Search (remember that show?), but she was eliminated during the semi-final round. Also, as a kid, Aguilera sang the American national anthem before Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Pittsburgh Pirates games, as well as in the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals.
After first attending public elementary and high schools, she started getting homeschooled to avoid being bullied. In an interview with Dateline NBC, Aguilera was asked if she ever had to deal with being bullied. “I have definitely experienced forms of bullying, and that’s why it’s so important for me to write songs like Beautiful and Fighter,” she answered.
She wrote her 2012 album Lotus to inspire anyone who might be in a similar situation. To her, the album is all about “being an unbreakable flower that survives the test of time.”
Back in 1991, she auditioned for The Mickey Mouse Club, but she still wasn’t old enough. She did, however, join the club two years later to hang out with Ryan Gosling, Keri Russell, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake.
When the show ended, she moved to Japan to record her first song, All I Wanna Do – a duet with Japanese singer Keizo Nakanishi. The girl was a promising rising star on her way to the top. Before she knew it, she was seeing her face on MTV with her hit single Genie in a Bottle. And with her new fame, came new problems.
In 2010, VH1’s Behind the Music gave fans a closer look into Aguilera’s life. In her candid interview, she not only spoke about the domestic abuse, but she also made a shocking confession about her mental health. “I do battle with depression,” she confessed, saying it’s “always right below the surface.”
She explained that it’s “seductive” to go to that place of sadness and darkness, adding that she’s “truly thankful for the darkest times in [her] life.” While she might be thankful for it, those in her inner circle might not be as gung-ho about her coping mechanisms.
The singer’s way of dealing with stress has reportedly swayed toward the edge of destruction. In the documentary, she stated: “I definitely don’t choose the safe way of living or expressing myself, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.” What does she mean by that?
Well, TMZ has reported that, back in March 2011, the singer’s friends and business associates had begged her to enter rehab for her alcohol abuse. It came after Aguilera’s arrest for public intoxication. During that incident, Aguilera’s fiancé at the time, Matthew Rutler, was arrested for driving under the influence.
Years later, in 2015, Aguilera was a guest at (Family Guy creator’s) Seth MacFarlane’s Christmas party. She reportedly was a “boozy Grinch” who fell into a decorative Christmas tree after drinking too much alcohol (according to Page Six). “She was a mess,” a witness stated.
Rutler and a friend had to carry her out of the party at the end of the night. Aguilera never publicly addressed the allegations about her drinking specifically. What she does speak about in the media is her willingness to help others, and she does sound sincere about it…
“No matter what chaos is around me, it gets me back into my body. I’ve learned that the stronger you get within yourself, everything else just bounces off,” Aguilera said. Eventually, she learned how to turn a negative situation into a positive one by donating her time and effort (and money) to various causes that help victims of domestic violence.
She told Forbes magazine: “I know I am not the only person who has experienced such pain and betrayal caused by abuse and violence. That is why I feel it’s so important now to use my voice to support efforts to spread awareness and encourage engagement against domestic violence.”
“I am full blood Boricua
Reads the tattoo on his arm
He tells me, ‘Mami, I need you.’
And my heartbeat pumps so strong.”
With lyrics like those, it sounds like she was blissfully in love with her lover, right? Well, not so much. As if her childhood wasn’t dramatic enough, Aguilera was also betrayed by her ex-boyfriend Jorge Santos, who was her former backup dancer.
During an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked, Aguilera was asked about her 2002 song Infatuation and the inspiration behind it. Everything changed when she found out his secret.
Without mentioning him by name, she said, “It was heartbreaking because I found out he played for your team, not mine” (insinuating that he is gay). Santos and Aguilera dated for two years, from 2000 to 2002. They met while he worked as her backup dancer.
Things were seemingly going great between the two; the couple even discussed getting married. “She brought up marriage. For me, I was 18 and definitely was not ready,” Santos later told The Belfast Telegraph in 2012. Aguilera, however, seemed very much ready to settle down with her Latin lover.
Aguilera and Bratman, a music producer, started dating back in 2003. The two had a strong relationship right from the start. While he wasn’t exactly a celebrity, he was in the business. In February 2005, they got married. The wedding ceremony in Napa Valley, California had about 150 guests, and her dress cost about $80,000.
Aguilera was only 24 at the time, whereas Bratman was 27. In 2008, the couple welcomed their son Max Liron Bratman into the world. After being together for about eight years, she and Bratman parted ways in 2010. Aguilera has two kids, but her second, named Summer Rain Rutler, was with her boyfriend, Matthew Rutler.
In 2011, she went on The Voice as a coach, and it was around then that she met Matthew Rutler on the set of Burlesque, where he was a production assistant. Things got serious, and she took a step back from the show for the sixth season to focus on her family.
Rutler stepped up to be stepdad for Bratman and Aguilera’s son, Max. In 2014, the couple got engaged and welcomed their daughter. The two have yet to tie the knot, despite being engaged for over seven years now. They named their daughter Summer Rain, which according to Aguilera, is “a time of spreading warmth and light, while rain washes away.”
“We discuss it when we’re snuggling in bed,” Aguilera told Women’s Health about walking down the aisle with Rutler. “But it’s a casual conversation.” She told E! News in 2015 that when the moment does come, she wants to “cherish” it and not feel “rushed.”
“Our love is secure enough that we don’t need a wedding to prove our love or commitment. We are enjoying our daughter, our family, and our work for now.” Rutler’s Instagram bio reads: “Proud father, happily engaged.” Maybe the secret to their longevity is the fact that Rutler isn’t a celebrity.
Evidently, Christina Aguilera doesn’t date celebrities.” I think that I can only handle one celebrity in the relationship, and I need to be it,” she admitted in People in 2018. She also revealed that she’s “had opportunities,” but it isn’t her “style” to date another person in the business.
Curious as to who those “opportunities” were? Apparently, Fred Durst and Carson Daly are among them. Aguilera keeps her relationship struggles private, but she has shared certain details that are, let’s say, odd. For example, she and Bratman had a tradition where, on Sundays, they did everything in the house… naked.
“We do everything naked. We cook naked,” she told Ellen on her show in 2007. That’s right, the couple enjoyed their “Naked Sundays.” But Bratman wasn’t the only one with whom she shared interesting traditions and experiences.
Aguilera and Rutler love to dress up in costumes, and not just for Halloween; their parties are also themed. One of Summer Rain’s birthday parties was Super Mario-themed. Then, in 2019, for the premiere of The Addams Family animated film (Aguilera contributed to the soundtrack), each member of the family of four dressed up as an Addams family member.
Can we just go ahead and say couples that get arrested together stay together? Yes? No? Anyways, in 2011, a drunken night led to Rutler “driving erratically.” He was pulled over and arrested for a DUI. Aguilera was reportedly “extremely intoxicated.” Since she wasn’t able to care for herself, she was taken into custody.
A spokesperson for the L.A. County Sheriff’s Office said that Aguilera was taken into custody for her and the public’s safety. “She was not belligerent in any way,” the spokesperson said. “We have no desire to prosecute.”
While it’s not uncommon for celebs to meet their significant others on set, the subject of the movie Aguilera was filming – Burlesque, alongside Cher – made it easy for the pair to get acquainted really quickly. Aguilera played the role of Ali, a girl from a small town who heads to L.A. to chase her dreams.
She then finds a home at a burlesque club run by a former dancer named Tess, played by Cher. Rutler, a production assistant on the film, saw his future fiancée in all kinds of compromising positions and risqué outfits before they ever had a conversation.
Aguilera was leaving her unhappy marriage with Bratman when she met Rutler. “We had a really strong friendship in the movie. He’s the kind of person you could spend hours on the phone talking to, and all of a sudden, it’s daylight,” Aguilera told People about Rutler, just a few months after she filed for divorce from Bratman.
Bratman, apparently, didn’t leave the marriage unscathed. TMZ called out Aguilera’s alleged infidelities for ruining their marriage. However, other gossip outlets claimed the couple had an open marriage and that Bratman likely grew tired of his wife reportedly bringing home other women to “play with.”
As her marriage was unraveling before her eyes, and the rumors were pouring in about her personal life, Aguilera told Redbook magazine: “It’s not easy, and there have been a lot of tears and sadness.” She said that while she does have a support group – her mother and a close group of friends by her side – the emotional turmoil got the best of her.
“On days when it feels impossible to even get out of bed, much less function as a mother, their support and encouragement have kept me moving forward,” she said.
Aguilera didn’t second-guess her decision to end the marriage. She told People magazine: “I knew I had to end it.” She explained that the “constant arguments” flooded her once-happy home, leaving things “unhealthy and unhappy” for the both of them. Their humble abode became “filled with a lot of tension.”
“I knew what I was doing was the right thing for my child,” she said, “because I strongly believe it’s better to have two homes filled with love than one filled with tension. That’s one thing I learned as a child.”
She explained how growing up, her mom tried to stay in an unhappy marriage for years. “I would watch her torture herself emotionally.” The moment her parents finally separated in 1989, she said she felt “more loved and secure,” which might sound counterintuitive.
W Magazine did a deep dive into Aguilera’s childhood, uncovering a heartbreaking revelation. She admitted, “I felt caged by my childhood. And unsafe: Bad things happened in my home; there was violence.” As you can see, these allegations against her father are serious. Eventually, he had to make a comment…
With a daughter as vocal as Aguilera has been about the abuse, it was only a matter of time before Fausto Aguilera, a former Army sergeant, spoke out about his daughter’s claims. He made a statement to Us Weekly: “I never abused them in any way, and they know that.”
“I’m sorry for blaming you, for everything I just couldn’t do
And I’ve hurt myself by hurting you.”
Christina appeared to issue her father an apology in her song Hurt. But it seems as though the father and daughter continue to have a fractured relationship, according to Radar Online. “There are still many scars that I battle with on a day-to-day basis,” Aguilera revealed.
It’s hard to just reconcile with a man who made life “hell” for her and her family. “My dad was very dominant with my mom, and I always knew I was never going to let a man take advantage of me like that.”
Aguilera’s mother, Shelly, also spoke about her ex-husband and recalled a terrifying incident when their daughter was four years old. Shelly found her little Christina with blood streaming down her face. Frightened, her mother scooped her up and said, “Oh my God. What’s wrong?” She told her mother: “Daddy wanted to take a nap, and I made too much noise.”
As traumatic as the experience was, her past is what made Aguilera steadfast on never having to depend on a man for anything. Growing up, she didn’t let people push her around. As she developed thick skin, she was still convinced that she could never show any sign of weakness.
“I strived to be that workhorse… I always have to be strong.” But, with time, she understood that it’s okay to go easy on herself. There came the point in time when her father begged her for forgiveness. Aguilera said that she let him back into her life briefly but quickly realized that he “is not necessary in my life.”
Aguilera is constantly scrutinized (she’s a celebrity, after all). She has been criticized for pretty much everything she does, including the time she flubbed the words of the National Anthem at the 2011 Super Bowl. There was also her spray tan malfunction at Etta James’s 2017 funeral.
But it seems like the harshest judgment has been about her weight, which has fluctuated ever since she entered the public arena. Unfortunately, people have the tendency to comment on women’s weight, which only pressures her and many other women to lose weight. There was even one time when Kelly Osbourne called Aguilera a “fat b***h” during an episode of E!’s Fashion Police. Ouch.
Despite all the ups and downs in her personal and love life, Christina Aguilera’s career has remained impressively steady and successful. There was a bit of a hiccup in the 2010s, though. In 2016, Aguilera left The Voice, explaining that she “didn’t get into this business to be a television host.”
According to a source, she might have actually been fired. “It seems Christina couldn’t take the fact that she was no longer sitting well with the audience, but she did it to herself. Her attitude on and off-set was such that no one wanted to work with her anymore.”
When you’re famous, your life goes public whether you like it or not. Sometimes that involves rumored relationships, like the one she allegedly had with Enrique Iglesias. The two apparently dated back in 1998, when she started becoming super famous.
To this day, neither she nor he has confirmed it. Another romance was in 2002, between Aguilera and Carson Daly. Almost a decade later, she joined The Voice (which began in 2011) as a coach when Daly was the show’s host. This relationship has also never been confirmed.
Throughout his career, Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Mathers, has called out everyone from his fellow rappers to actors to pop stars. Aguilera happened to be on his “hit list,” too. Remember The Real Slim Shady? Well, that little bit about Xtina was the catalyst to their long-lasting feud.
“Shit, Christina Aguilera better switch me chairs
So, I can sit next to Carson Daly and Fred Durst
And hear ’em argue over who she gave h**d to first.”
He gave her a shout-out in the song – one of his all-time biggest – but it wasn’t a flattering one by any means.
Many fans thought that after the two stars stood on the same stage together and “hugged it out” behind the scenes, the beef was over. Or maybe they just figured it was a fake feud – you know, bad publicity is good publicity. But this was the real deal. And if they ever had a truce, it was short-lived.
It all started in 1999 when Aguilera leaked information during her MTV special (What a Girl Wants) about Eminem marrying Kim, his longtime girlfriend, in a secret ceremony. Aguilera then talked about the consequences of physical abuse in relationships.
“Little b***h put me on blast on MTV
‘Yeah, he’s cute, but I think he’s married to Kim, hee-hee
I should download her audio on MP3
And show the whole world how you gave Eminem VD!”
Obviously, Eminem wasn’t a happy camper when he heard the pop princess reveal his personal business. So, he got his revenge via his music. In The Real Slim Shady, he took another shot at her with the above lyrics, although Aguilera denied ever being romantically involved with the rapper. But that song wasn’t Eminem’s only time he got his message across.
“Causing terror to Christina Aguilera.
When I grab her by the hair and drag her across the Sahara.”
Ouch. In his 2000 song Off the Wall, featuring Redman, Eminem rapped those lyrics, showing us that his hatred for the blonde pop star was still alive and well.
“So, what am I not supposed to have an opinion?
Should I keep quiet just because I’m a woman?
Call me a b***h cause I speak what’s on my mind
Guess it’s easier for you to swallow if I sat and smiled.”
This time, though, Aguilera decided to play the rapper at his own game. She responded in her own song, Can’t Hold Us Down, from her 2002 album Stripped.
It was during the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards that Aguilera and her enemy came face to face on stage. She was given the awkward task of presenting Eminem the award for Best Male Video. (Obviously, producers knew what they were doing).
No one knew exactly what was going to happen as the rapper hopped on stage to retrieve his award. All eyes on them both, Eminem decided to simply take the trophy from her, say “thank you,” and deliver his speech. According to NME, the two tried to bury the hatchet backstage.
Their beef didn’t end there, though. For years, people just assumed their feud was over as no more songs about each other were coming out. But to everyone’s surprise, in a 2018 freestyle “Kick Off,” Eminem mentioned her again.
“F**k Christina with a plastic spoon
While I bump some G-Funk and blast some Snoop.”
The following year, Aguilera was a guest on the show Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, where she was asked about Eminem calling her out again after more than a decade.
“Yeah, I mean, that’s real thirsty,” she responded. “I don’t know what’s going on there. That’s really in the past and, you know, it was thirsty then, it’s thirsty now…” She continued on to say how “not nice” it is to go after people, “especially a female” in this business.
At this point, we’re waiting to see what comes next between the two. But don’t hold your breath. I think after the last exhausting year, the two stars have bigger fish to fry. And Aguilera probably has a lot to do in her fancy Beverly Hills hideaway.
Aguilera delighted her fans when she opened the doors to her Beverly Hills mansion and gave everyone a sneak peek into her not-so-humble abode. The dressing room of her bedroom has a black and white tiled floor and a black beaded curtain leading into her sleeping space.
Her enormous bed is littered with pink, black and white cushions under a rose gold chandelier above the bed. The floor-to-ceiling headboard is a masterpiece of its own, and of course, she has a crisp white carpet (because what rich celebrity doesn’t?)