September 11, 2007 02:00 PM

Fergie – no stranger to tabloid attention – says she can relate to what Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan are going through.

And what the 20-something stars need, says the 32-year-old Black Eye Peas singer, is some breathing room so they can help themselves.

“They’re young,” Fergie (real name: Stacy Ferguson) said at a Conde Nast Fashion Rocks event in New York. “I was young when I went through my stuff. Leave them alone. If they want to get better, they’re going to get better on their own.”

Spears, 25, has returned to Los Angeles to rejoin her sons, Jayden, Sean Preston, who are respectively turning 1 and 2 this week, after a disappointing comeback performance Sunday at the MTV Video Music Awards in Las Vegas. Earlier this year, she spent a month in rehab.

Lohan, 21, is in her third rehab program, this one in Utah, following her DUI arrest last month, for which she was sentenced to a day in jail. In a statement, she said she was addicted to alcohol and drugs and had relapsed.

Fergie, whose own time in rehab was for a crystal meth addiction, says that Spears and Lohan should ignore the media attention and focus on their problems.

“If somebody is going to change, they have to want to do it themselves,” she says. “I think it is really unfair to them when they are trying to get help. We’re all watching as a nation and commenting day by day on their rehabilitation. It’s not fair. You’re supposed to have a sanctuary, a place where you can go and not be pressured every day.”

• Reporting by JEFFREY SLONIM

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