Shania Twain is known for female anthems—songs about feeling like a woman and being a woman. But throughout her childhood, Twain says she hid her womanhood to protect herself from a stepfather she alleges abused her. 

In an interview with UK’s The Times, the country singer said she was ashamed of being a girl due to her stepfather’s physical and sexual abuse, “and so I hid myself and I would flatten my boobs,” she 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. 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 shitty to be a girl. Oh, it’s so shitty to have boobs. I was ashamed of being a girl.”

Twain’s elaborate stage costuming is as iconic as her music. 


By her mid-20s, Shania Twain said that she regained the confidence in being a woman that’s so central to her music. She added that fashion helped her embrace her femininity too. “I could speak and tell a story about myself, by the way I moved my body, the drape of the fabrics, the colors, where the focus was,” Twain said. “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 tits.’ It was really me coming into myself. It was a metamorphosis of sorts.”

The 57-year-old is the subject of a Netflix documentary about her life, Shania Twain: Not Just a Girl, in which she describes her growing up in poverty as one of five children in rural Canada. Today she lives in Switzerland with her husband, Frédéric Thiébaud.