As she prepares to kick off a new musical era, Shania Twain is taking time to reflect on personal pain from her past with the benefit of hindsight.
Speaking to The Sunday Times, the five-time Grammy winner recalled the sexual and physical abuse she experienced at the hands of her stepfather, Jerry, and said she altered her appearance as a coping mechanism.
“I hid myself, and I would flatten my boobs,” Twain 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.”
Jerry adopted Twain, along with her two sisters, when she was 4 years old. He and Twain’s mother, Sharon, were killed in a car accident in 1987.
Though Twain had initially found solace in music, she said she at first struggled to embrace her sexuality as she began pursuing a career as a singer-songwriter.
“I was ashamed of being a girl,” she 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. 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, and feel so degraded.”
Twain previously disclosed about her stepfather’s abuse in her 2011 memoir, “From This Moment On.” And on “60 Minutes Australia” in 2017, she recalled times when she had to step between her parents to defend her mother.
“I would get physically involved, sometimes, with my parents’ fights, because I just thought that he would kill [my mom],” she said. “One of these times, he’s going to kill her.”
As 2022 draws to a close, Twain is on the cusp of a professional resurgence. In September, she unveiled “Waking Up Dreaming,” her first new single in five years. She’s set to appear in Disney’s live-action special, “Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration,” which airs later this month on ABC.
She’s also set to release her sixth studio album, “Queen of Me,” early next year before embarking on a world tour.
“I’m really excited about cheering people up,” she told The Sun this fall. “I had a very productive songwriting pandemic period and as much as we were isolated, it was almost like I wanted to cheer myself up, and that just came out in the music.”