Christina Aguilera's new album, Lotus, signals a "time of freedom for me," the singer says. The record is her first since divorcing record exec Jordan Bratman and signing as a coach on TV's The Voice, and a return to mainstream pop after the flop of her 2010 release Bionic. She took time out in Beverly Hills to talk to dpa about body image, double standards, and what it takes to be a star.
dpa: How high are the expectations for this album, and how much pressure are you under, from yourself and others?
Aguilera: When you start getting caught up in, oh, I have to put so much pressure on myself to chart a certain way or have quote-unquote hit records, then it takes away from all the honesty and genuine creative process of creating something really special. Some of my favorite things ever, both from myself personally and other artists, aren't necessarily the commercial successes. So at the end of the day, I don't put that kind of pressure on myself.
dpa: A lot of your controversial work has focused on sexuality and body image. What are you saying with your nude album cover for Lotus, and what reaction do you expect?
Aguilera: Throughout my career, it's been very interesting to be a woman that has been very self-assured and very comfortable in my own skin, and be unafraid to sort of express that, that inner confidence that comes with being able to explore my sexuality ... I'm more than OK to open up conversation as to why double standards - why is it OK for men and why it's not ok for women? Why labels for women and not for men?
dpa: How much professional pressure have you faced to conform to a particular image or body type?
Aguilera: There's always opinions, always criticism along the way, for women. ... It's a very interesting thing to be a woman. Your body goes through many changes. I've had a son. I've been pregnant. As a woman, you see your body give life. I have an appreciation for for the female body in general, and I happen to come from a perspective of, no matter what size you are, I embrace the most confident woman in the room.
dpa: What's your proudest achievement?
Aguilera: My son, for sure. As a mother, there's nothing more gratifying or rewarding at the end of the day than to see this little human being in front of you. I could come in from the most chaotic, crazy, stressful day and nothing will matter when I see that face and that smile. And it lights up my whole world. And it empowers and inspires me to then go out and do what I do.
dpa: Your new video for [the new single] Your Body features a shot of you in a t-shirt that says "fuck the paparazzi." That's fairly raw for somebody who's been a fixture in celebrity magazines.
Aguilera: I think they're just invasive people. It's just invasive personalities. I understand it's their business, but it's a very stalkerish way to live your life. I wear a shirt like that in response to, maybe, taking my son to go see his soccer game, and they're in his face taking pictures, like hiding behind bushes while he's playing soccer. I just want to go see my kid play soccer.
dpa: A lot of people think being a pop star must be a dream job. Is there a dark side to the business and the celebrity life?
Aguilera: If you're getting into this business for the glitz and glam, if you're going because you want to make these videos and be sexy ... then you're getting into it for the wrong reasons. You're going to have a lot of hard work ahead of you. To be successful in this business, you have to have a thick skin. You have to come in and be very self-assured, and know exactly who you are. So that you can sustain the test of time.
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