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Christina Aguilera turns 36 this Sunday, and though it’s been 17 years since she released her first music video, “Genie in a Bottle,” her early influence is as strong as ever. Recently, 19-year-old Kylie Jenner made waves on social media when she dressed up as Aguilera from the music video “Dirrty,” wearing hip bone–hanging chap-flares and a striped bra for both Halloween and Aguilera’s birthday party last week.
Why did Jenner channel Aguilera? The singer’s take-no-prisoners expression of her sexuality through clothing is right in step with today’s push for women to be unafraid to wear what they want or show as much skin as they like. Aguilera’s fearless wardrobe was always genuine, even predating her X-tina “Dirrty” persona. A 18-year-old Aguilera in 1999 was a perpetual midriff revealer, opting for a constant combo of low-slung jeans and teeny-tiny crop tops. Aguilera never fronted a girl-next-door act like her contemporary, Britney Spears, either, and it showed in her outfit choices. When Aguilera wore pink, it wasn’t wholesome in the way Spears wore the color, but had a searing effect in the form of a cropped fuchsia cardigan held together by one button and a Pepto-pink leopard-print miniskirt. This bold style coupled with an octave-climbing voice solidified Aguilera as a pop artist with staying power.
Aguilera’s sexy persona culminated in her “Dirrty” video: It was an announcement that she was a woman—now with curves—who confidently showed of her body by gyrating in leather, surrounded by sweaty men in a boxing ring. It was a far cry from Spears’s relatively tame “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” music video, released around the same time. For today’s young women, especially those like Jenner who live and breathe social media, Aguilera’s red-hot look still matters—and is still getting plenty of commentary.