Shania Twain felt 'exploited' about her body as a young singer: 'What was so natural for other people was so scary for me'

Canadian country star Shania Twain discussed her complex relationship with her body. (Photo: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for ZFF)
Canadian country star Shania Twain discussed her complex relationship with her body. (Photo: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for ZFF)

Shania Twain may be a queen of country music these days, but the Canadian singer struggled tremendously in her younger years.

Twain, 57, spoke candidly with the Sunday Times about the lengths she would go to in her pre-pubescent years in order to hide her changing body. Growing up with a physically and sexually abusive stepfather, Twain saw her eventual aging into her teenage years as a threat.

“I hid myself and 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,” Twain explained to the newspaper. “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 s****y to be a girl. Oh, it’s so s****y to have boobs.’ I was ashamed of being a girl.”

By age 22, her parents had died in a car accident, and Twain was left to raise her three younger siblings. However, her relationship with her body didn't improve, and she continued to feel "exploited."

“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, you know, and feel so degraded," the singer said.

In her 20s, Twain gained a sense of confidence, using her body language to send the message "don’t even get any closer" when she walked into the room. But she found she liked her body, and “wanted to grow into it, appreciate it.”

"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," said Twain, who hopes younger girls can learn to exude that same confidence.

These days, Twain says she's "celebrating" her own sense of confidence in her songs, fashion choices, body language, and performances.

“I am celebrating escaping this horrible state of not wanting to be who I am. And I’m so confident. Now that I discovered that it’s OK to be a girl," she shared. "The unapologetic woman is a very powerful person indeed.”

In recent years, Twain has done her best to speak out about body positivity. Last month, she teamed up with singer Jax to share a video of the two lip-syncing to Jax's hit song "Victoria's Secret," Yahoo previously reported. The song calls out the infamous lingerie company and inspires women to love their bodies.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, help is available. RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline is here for survivors 24/7 with free, anonymous help. 800.656.HOPE (4673) and online.rainn.org.

For anyone affected by abuse and needing support, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or if you're unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522.

Wellness, parenting, body image and more: Get to know the who behind the hoo with Yahoo Life’s newsletter. Sign up here.