Shania Twain is speaking out about her childhood trauma — and how it has affected her body image.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, the 57-year-old singer said she suffered sexual and physical abuse at the hands of her stepfather Jerry Twain growing up, and that she tried to change the way she looked as a means of coping.
“I hid myself and I would flatten my boobs,” the “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” singer said. “I would wear bras that were too small for me, and I’d wear two, play it down until there was nothing girl about me. Make it easier to go unnoticed. Because, oh my gosh, it was terrible — you didn’t want to be a girl in my house.”
Yet, at 22, as the second-oldest of five living in poverty in remote Timmons, Ontario, she had to come to terms with her own sexuality after her stepfather and mother died in a car accident. As she helped to raise her younger siblings, Twain embarked on a career in music, singing at a nearby resort.
“Then you go into society and you’re a girl and you’re getting the normal other unpleasant stuff too, and that reinforces it. So then you think, ‘Oh, I guess it’s just s—ty to be a girl. Oh, it’s so s—ty to have boobs.’ I was ashamed of being a girl.”
She continued, “All of a sudden it was like, well, what’s your problem? You know, you’re a woman and you have this beautiful body? What was so natural for other people was so scary for me. I felt exploited, but I didn’t have a choice now. I had to play the glamorous singer, had to wear my femininity more openly or more freely. And work out how I’m not gonna get groped, or raped by someone’s eyes, you know, and feel so degraded.”
The star soon found success and became able to manage her own expectations, as she signed to a label in Nashville and met her future producer and first husband Robert “Mutt” Lange.
“By the time I had my record contracts I was the kind of woman that … when I walked in the room, it’s like, don’t even get any closer,” she told The Sunday Times. “It was clear in my body language. And I think maybe what young girls can learn too is to exude that confidence.”
Last month, the Grammy-winning superstar celebrated the 25th anniversary of her iconic album Come On Over.
Via social media she also looked back on her third studio recording, which spawned iconic hits such as “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” and “That Don’t Impress Me Much” and set a plethora of music industry records.
“25 years ago I released Come On Over… and because of your support, that album went on to become: The biggest-selling studio album by a female artist of all time, the best-selling country music album ever [and] the biggest-selling album by a Canadian country artist …Crazy,” she wrote.