Shania Twain is opening up about her traumatic childhood with her stepfather in a new interview with The Sunday Times, and the details she shares are tragic. Shania had a difficult childhood in Ontario, Canada. Her parents divorced when she was two and her mother moved her and her sisters away to Timmins, Ontario. There, Shania’s mother met Jerry Twain. The two married, and Twain legally adopted and changed the girls’ last names.
But, things didn’t get much better after that. The family often didn’t have food on the table, and Shania sometimes performed at bars late at night to support her family. She started when she was eight years old and continued to do so after her mother and stepfather died in a car accident when she was 22. She then took care of her two younger siblings, supporting them through performing.
Shania Twain Reveals Childhood Trauma, Said She Was Disconnected From Her Feminine Identity
Shania’s mother’s marriage was a rocky one, and Shania recalls there being a lot of fighting and violence between Saron and Jerry Twain. But, as she now reveals, some of that violence was directed at her, as well.
“I hid myself and I would flatten my boobs,” she admitted. “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 revealed that this put her at odds with her feminine identity growing up. “Then you go into society and you’re a girl and you’re getting the normal other unpleasant stuff too, and that reinforces it,” Shania continued. “So then you think, ‘Oh, I guess it’s just s–tty to be a girl. Oh, it’s so s–tty to have boobs.’ I was ashamed of being a girl.”
I am heartbroken to hear this story about your Stepfather. I am so sorry you had to endure that time in your life. Big Hug.— BostonMike (@BostonMike1954) December 5, 2022
Fans who read her interview came out in support of Shania Twain, sending her love and validation on social media. “I am heartbroken to hear this story about your Stepfather,” one supporter wrote on Twitter. “I am so sorry you had to endure that time in your life.”
Another commiserated on the state of the world, and how they feel women and girls are generally treated. “Is there any nation[,] any country on Earth where women are not mistreated????” they wrote.
How Shania’s Trauma Made Room for Confidence in Herself and Her Femininity
Her trauma also put her at odds with the music industry. She didn’t want to show her body or be overly sexy when performing because she was carrying that trauma with her. “All of a sudden it was like, well, what’s your problem?” she said. “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.”
But, something happened by 1992, when Shania Twain signed her first record deal: she gained confidence, had strong boundaries, and knew her worth. “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,” she explained. “It was clear in my body language. And I think maybe what young girls can learn too is to exude that confidence.”
The CDC has many resources about preventing child abuse and Adverse Childhood Experiences, and your state’s Department of Children and Families also has resources and hotlines to report abuse. If you know of abuse happening around you, don’t hesitate to report it to the correct organizations in your area.