When a lot of people meet me, I think they are typically surprised to learn about the other woman in my life - Christina Aguilera.
I adore her. She is my favorite singer and I cannot even put into words the admiration I have for her.
I first saw Christina take the stage on Disney's "new" Mickey Mouse Club in the 1990s and it was love at first sight. She was one of the youngest cast members, and certainly the smallest, but when she opened her mouth and I heard her powerhouse voice for the first time, a 7-year-old me knew what it was like to respect another person.
That admiration has carried throughout my life. And say what you want (and trust me, people do) no one will change my opinion about her.
You see, Christina came from an abusive household. She's been an open advocate about ending violence against women which only helped my respect grow. Sometimes a celebrity's charity is overshadowed by their public lifestyle, which is unfortunate. What we don't see sometimes is the handful of causes they care about, the charity they donate to and how they spend their time out of the spotlight. In Christina's case, her time is spent in other countries working with the World Food Program and visiting shelters for abused women in the United States.
Not everything you see is a "travesty."
I think the public in general gets a kick out of seeing a celebrity fall from grace, especially Christina, who may have had the worst year of her life in 2011. Sure, she flubbed the lyrics to the National Anthem (girl was in the moment and it was deep and beautiful) and she endured a divorce. She's worn skimpy outfits in public and has dabbled in different hair colors, but that will never change who she is to me. She sings from the heart, she shares her gift to enrich other singers on her hit show "The Voice" (even if you aren't a Christina fan, I recommend you give the show a chance) and she appears to be a doting mother to her son Max.
So, whenever people find out I have an emotional connection with a celebrity I've never met before, they act indifferent. It's important to know I don't hold this woman higher than God or my family, but I do have a very special place for her in my heart. Her ballads can bring me out of my darkest place and just knowing she makes records produced from the depths of her soul rather than making forgettable Top 40 hits, puts me on her side.
In 2010, Christina took the lead in a film called "Burlesque," which was a tasteful PG-13 love story about a small-town girl trying to make it big in the stage music industry. Watching it in the theater, I was like a child on the edge of my seat, my eyes glued to the glitz and the glamour as Christina danced across the screen and belted out ballads like she was singing to just me. The kind folks at the movie theater gave me a few movie posters and I ran home to add them to my Christina display. What started as a scrapbook of clippings from Christina's concerts I attended has grown into a collection of books, magazine clippings, sheet music, T-shirts, dolls, key chains, CDs and much more silly and wonderful things. People who know me really well get me Christina-branded items for gifts and my husband knows the way to my heart about once a year is a new bottle of one of many Christina's lovely perfumes.
Yes, I've been criticized for having admiration for Christina Aguilera but I'm perfectly fine with being associated with a strong woman who doesn't let the world hold her down.
I think it's wonderful.
Stacey Kukkonen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.