As she prepares to usher in a new musical era, Shania Twain takes time to reflect on personal hurts from her past.
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 changed her appearance as a coping mechanism.
“I hid and flattened my boobs,” Twain said. “I would wear bras that were too small for me and I would wear two, downplaying it until there was nothing girly about me anymore. Make it easier to go unnoticed. Because, oh my god, it was awful — 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, died in a car accident in 1987.
Although Twain initially found solace in music, she said that as she began pursuing a career as a singer-songwriter, she initially struggled to embrace her sexuality.
“I was ashamed to be a girl,” she said. “Suddenly it was like, ‘Well, what’s your problem? You know you’re a woman and you have this beautiful body?’ What was so natural to others was so frightening to me. I felt used, but I had no choice now. I had to play the glamorous singer, had to wear my femininity more openly or freely. And find out how not to be groped or raped by someone and feel so humiliated.”
Twain previously opened up 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 sometimes got physically involved in my parents’ fights because I just thought he was going to kill [my mom],” she said. “One day he’ll kill her.”
As 2022 draws to a close, Twain stands on the cusp of a professional resurgence. In September, she unveiled “Waking Up Dreaming,” her first new single in five years. She will be appearing on Disney’s live-action special, Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration, which airs on ABC later this month.
She will also release her sixth studio album, Queen of Me, early next year before embarking on a world tour.
“I’m really looking forward to cheering people up,” she told The Sun in the fall. “I’ve had a very productive songwriting pandemic time and as much as we’ve been in isolation, it was almost like I wanted to cheer myself up, and that just came through in the music.”