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Christina Aguilera shares iconic topless photo as she revisits dramatic change to appearance

The singer debuted as a teen alongside Britney Spears and became a household name in the aughts

christina aguilera velvet yellow dress
Ahad Sanwari
Ahad Sanwari - New York
Senior WriterNew York
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Christina Aguilera is one of the most iconic musicians of the past 25 years, and in honor of her everlasting legacy, the singer took to her social media to celebrate one of her most divisive yet memorable eras.

The 42-year-old revealed on Instagram on Sunday that her album Stripped had turned 21 and celebrated the occasion with a slew of throwback images and videos.

She took to her main feed with a compilation of the photoshoots and videos from the era, simply writing: "Stripped turns 21," and took to her Instagram Stories with the album cover.

VIDEO: Christina Aguilera shares daring video with fans

The now-iconic image features a then 21-year-old Christina posing topless with long platinum blonde hair, featuring dark highlights and braids, a bold eye, piercings, and a pair of lace-up jeans/chaps.

Her fans bombarded her comments section with praise for the record, Christina's third ever studio album, and left responses like: "No hype, no glass, no pretense, just me… Stripped."

Another said: "Pop bible that saved my life!" and a third added: "The way you challenged the whole music industry to protect your personal and artistic integrity is something I will forever admire from you."

Christina Aguilera celebrates the 21st anniversary of her 2002 album "Stripped" on Instagram© Instagram
Christina celebrated the 21st anniversary of her 2002 album "Stripped"

After her debut self-titled album established her as a teen pop sensation alongside the likes of her Mickey Mouse Club co-star Britney Spears plus Mandy Moore and Jessica Simpson, Christina sought to establish more control over her music and image.

That was when "Xtina," her alter ego, was born, who embraced tighter-fitting, risqué clothes, a more open outlook on sex, and a mature, more R&B-heavy sound.

MORE: Christina Aguilera's curve-hugging ensemble leaves fans with questions – see

The album, executive produced by the singer herself, was released on October 22, 2002 and tackled themes of self-respect, sex, empowerment, and feminism, and like Christina's image change, was met with polarizing reviews. Many critics deemed it an "almost adult" record, while several others criticized it for lacking a central theme.

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It wasn't helped by the release of its lead single "Dirrty," which was dinged for its reliance on the sexual nature of its music video. The song was a hit, but was eclipsed by the success of the follow-up, "Beautiful," a self-love ballad which won acclaim.

MORE: Christina Aguilera displays curves for unexpected announcement days after revealing Las Vegas residency

Three other singles were released, those being "Fighter," "Can't Hold Us Down," and "The Voice Within," which charted well worldwide but not as strongly as their predecessors.

MTV's "TRL" Presents: "Christina Aguilera Stripped in NYC 2002" at the Brooklyn Bridge© Getty Images
Christina established a new, sexier image with her third album era

The record was a huge commercial success, however, peaking in the top ten worldwide and eventually selling over 12 million copies, one of the best-selling albums of the 21st century.

MORE: Christina Aguilera debuts hair transformation in a sheer bodysuit as she makes major announcement

The album was also nominated for five Grammy Awards, winning for "Beautiful." Retrospective reviews have since deemed the record a "classic," calling it one of the most influential albums of the decade.

American pop star Christina Aguilera promotes her new album "Stripped" on 10th October, 2002 in London.© Getty Images
While reviews at the time were polarizing, "Stripped" is now seen as an influential 21st century pop record

Many artists like Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, and Sabrina Carpenter have cited Stripped as a major influence on their music, and directly has been noted as inspiring the work of performers like Rihanna, Ariana Grande, and Miley Cyrus.

Several critics now praise the album for inspiring a new sexual and feminist revolution in pop music, heralding the end of the bubblegum pop era of the '90s that Christina was an important part of.

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