Shania Twain on the abuse that made her ‘ashamed’ – ‘I would flatten my boobs… you didn’t want to be a girl in my house’

The icon is speaking out about the abuse she experienced as a child

Shania Twain has opened up about the abuse she suffered as a child
(Image credit: Mike Coppola/Getty Images for American Heart Association)

Shania Twain has always impressed us much but learning about the incredible adversity she had to triumph over as a young girl has cemented her icon status.

Shania is one of the world’s biggest-selling female recording artists, having sold more than 100 million records. Her 1997 album, Come On Over, remains the biggest-selling studio album by a solo female artist ever. And, if that wasn’t enough, she’s racked up 215 award wins throughout her career.

Gearing up for a new album in 2023, titled Queen of Me, Shania is also in a new era of confidence. At 57, the star has recently opened up on why she feels better than ever in her body – and how it’s motivated her to pose nude.

Shania Twain is one of the best-selling artists in history

(Image credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

Shania’s new found confidence in her skin is even more refreshing considering the abuse she experienced as a child, abuse which had her “ashamed of being a girl.”

The legendary Man! I Feel Like a Woman singer has opened up on the historic abuse she suffered at the hands of her stepfather as she sat down for a frank, brave and illuminating interview with the Sunday Times Style magazine.

She grew up poor in Ontario, Canada, one of five children with her mother, Sharon, and stepfather, Jerry Twain, who legally adopted the kids, giving them his surname.

Shania’s real first name is Eilleen and it’s actually what her loved one calls her – Shania is the name given to her when the record label demanded she change it.

As well as poverty, Shania recalls the physical and sexual abuse she experienced from her stepfather, and how it made her ashamed of her body.

She shares, “I would flatten my boobs. 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.”

This was later reinforced by being in the industry, and by society’s attitude to women as a whole.

“But 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 sh*tty to be a girl. Oh, it’s so sh*tty to have boobs.’ I was ashamed of being a girl.”

Shania's many famous looks helped her rediscover her confidence

(Image credit: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM)

The abuse she suffered at the hands of her stepfather has left her much stronger than her sweet nature might suggest. She says in the interview, “You don’t want to be somebody that attacks me on the street. Because I will f***ing rip your head off if I get the chance.”

As her career took off, Shania started to overcome the shame and fear learnt as a young girl – and her iconic fashion looks played a huge part.

Explaining how her many legendary looks helped her find herself, she says, “I could speak and tell a story about myself, by the way I moved my body, the drape of the fabrics, the colours, where the focus was. And I loved that about fashion, the fun of it, the expression. I was never an exhibitionist for the sake of, like, saying, you know, ‘Look at my t*ts.’ It was really me coming into myself. It was a metamorphosis of sorts.”

Confronting her demons, Shania’s interview also includes messages of hope moving into the future. She tells the mag, “I’m trying to be less apologetic about everything.”

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.