Shania Twain says she would 'flatten' her chest because of abusive stepfather
Warning: This article includes details of sexual abuse.
Shania Twain is opening up about troubling moments in her childhood that affected her confidence when she entered the music industry.
The 57-year-old musician spoke about growing up in poverty in Ontario, Canada, with her four siblings, mom, Sharon, and stepfather, Jerry, in an interview with British newspaper The Sunday Times, ahead of her new album "Queen of Me" being released in February 2023.
Twain said that her stepfather was physically and sexually abusive and that she learned to fight back to defend herself and her mother.
“I think a lot of that was anger, not courage,” she told the outlet in an article published on Dec. 4. “And it took a long time to manage that anger.”
She added, “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.”
The singer revealed she also used to shield parts of her body to protect herself from her stepfather.
“And so I hid myself and I would flatten my boobs,” she recalled. “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.”
She found solace in songwriting, but she said dealing with “unpleasant stuff” outside of her home as well made her feel “ashamed” to be a girl.
Her mom and stepfather died in a car crash when she was 22, meaning Twain, one of the oldest children, had to raise her other siblings. She told The Sunday Times that she started singing at a resort hotel to support her family. While working there, she continued to feel objectified.
The “You’re Still The One” singer said, “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.”
She continued, “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.”
During her mid-twenties, she released hit albums like “Come On Over” and became a rising star in the music industry. Twain learned to exude confidence through her body language and she said fashion also helped her express herself.
“It was a metamorphosis of sorts,” she shared.
Decades into her career, the “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” singer said she now celebrates the “authenticity” in her lyrics, fashion, body language and performances.
“I am celebrating escaping this horrible state of not wanting to be who I am,” she said. “And I’m so confident. Now that I discovered that it’s OK to be a girl.”
She concluded, “The unapologetic woman is a very powerful person indeed.”
Twain has candidly addressed her upbringing and the abuse she suffered before. In 2011, she wrote an autobiography titled “From This Moment On.”
She wrote that her stepfather abused her mother. She remembered one incident when he repeatedly pushed her mother’s head into a toilet.
The singer said she also fought her stepfather when she was 11.
“I ran up behind my dad with a chair in both hands and smashed it across his back,” she recalled. “Before I could get away, he punched me in the jaw. Adrenaline pumping, I punched him back!”
When she was a teenager, she said her stepfather sexually abused and harassed her by murmuring obscenities and fondling her while she was in bed.
Twain, speaking to the Sunday Times, said she came into her own in her mid 20s.
“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. It was clear in my body language. And I think maybe what young girls can learn, too, is to exude that confidence.”
This article was originally published on TODAY.com