"All these things that really shine a light on all these people that have put their life on the line and lost limbs, literally," the singer tells PEOPLE

By Melody Chiu and Kirsten Akens
June 05, 2018 11:15 AM
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Kelly Clarkson is all about keeping it real — especially in a town that can get superficial.

The Voice coach, 36, performed at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Department of Defense Warrior Games in Colorado Springs on Saturday and opened up exclusively to PEOPLE about celebrating inner beauty.

“This is actual fake news,” said the singer while motioning to her full hair and makeup. “I think that sometimes Hollywood can be very ‘Oh, we don’t want people to see what we really look like. That’ll be the death of you or something.’ And it’s like, ‘Whatever!’ Everybody poops. Everybody burps. Everybody’s the same.”

Kelly Clarkson
| Credit: Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/DoD

The star also carries the same attitude when it comes to parenting her kidsSavannah, 17, Seth, 14, River, 3, and Remington, 2 — with husband Brandon Blackstock, 41.

“I try not to compliment our boys or our girls so much on aesthetics,” says Clarkson. “If they look handsome or beautiful, obviously we’ll say that, but I’m really adamant about everyone around us always saying like ‘God, you’re clever. You’re smart. You’re witty, you’re funny … all the other things that make character.”

Clarkson returned to perform at the Warrior Games for the second time and was the last to hit the stage at the event, which honors hundreds of athletes, family members and caretakers.

“My kids are obsessed with superheroes. Last year they got to come out with us to the show when we did it with Blake [Shelton], and it was cool to show them real heroes,” said Clarkson. “Wounded Warriors [and] Invictus Games [are both] so important. All these things that really shine a light on all these people that have put their life on the line and lost limbs, literally.”

Warrior Games 2018
| Credit: Evan Semón/DoD

More than 300 athletes competed in the multi-day Paralympic-style competition, which is now in its ninth year.

“People are so nervous to come out to any events like this or to get active post-injury and feel like they’re being judged or looked at in a certain way,” Air Force Veteran Heather Carter told PEOPLE on-site. “The first step for them is that sense of courage to be able to take that step forward.”

Warrior Games 2018
| Credit: Evan Semón/DoD

Carter — along with Air Force Veteran Shanon “Shay” Hampton — will also both be participating in the upcoming Invictus Games.

“[There’s] extreme pain,” said Hampton about his injuries. “It’s pretty bad, but you know what, I wouldn’t trade it for anything because there’s some things that are just worth hurting for. It’s so worth it.”