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Shania Twain reveals her traumatic childhood inspired her hit tracks with her penning empowerment anthem Man! I Feel Like a Woman! after sexual abuse caused her to 'miss out on the joy of being a female'


Shania Twain has opened up on how her traumatic life experiences have inspired some of her greatest hits. 

The legendary singer, 59, has been candid about her difficult childhood, growing up in poverty in Canada with four siblings, her mum Sharon and stepdad Jerry Twain.

She revealed back in 2018 that Jerry had sexually abused her, as well as being violent to her mother, before both her parents died in a car crash when she was just 22.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Shania explained how these childhood traumas influenced her music, particularly hit tracks Black Eyes, Blue Tears and Man! I Feel Like a Woman!.

She said:  One thing I avoided the most in my life was becoming my mother or being in her situation. I had to break that cycle. But when people hear [Black Eyes, Blue Tears] they may not think I lived that. 

Shania Twain has opened up on how her traumatic life experiences have inspired some of her greatest hits (pictured last month)

Shania Twain has opened up on how her traumatic life experiences have inspired some of her greatest hits (pictured last month)

The legendary singer, 59, has been candid about her difficult childhood, growing up in poverty in Canada with four siblings, her mum Sharon and stepdad Jerry Twain (pictured as a teenager)

The legendary singer, 59, has been candid about her difficult childhood, growing up in poverty in Canada with four siblings, her mum Sharon and stepdad Jerry Twain (pictured as a teenager)

She revealed back in 2018 that Jerry had sexually abused her, as well as being violent to her mother, before both her parents died in a car crash when she was just 22 (pictured)

She revealed back in 2018 that Jerry had sexually abused her, as well as being violent to her mother, before both her parents died in a car crash when she was just 22 (pictured)

‘You have a story, that’s one thing. Then you put it into a three-minute commercial song and it’s not just a story — it’s a song. And my story was never part of a commercial career.’

Shania added that she grew up feeling ashamed of being female, being afraid to show her body because boys would take advantage of her.

After years of hiding and ‘missing out the joy of being female’ she finally accepted her curves and wrote her famous song, Man! I Feel Like a Woman! in 1997 to express her joy and empowerment about being a woman.

She said: ‘That song was me saying, I have waited too long to feel good about being a woman. For many years I shied away from it or wished I wasn’t a woman. I was a shy, insecure female — not person. 

‘My brain said, “I don’t really care what I am,” but my body got in the way — the female got in the way. I’ve got curves so I had to set boundaries and guards very young. I did everything not to bring attention to them. 

‘I missed out on the joy of being a female. S***, for my whole teens I never once went to the beach in a bathing suit. I knew that boys were going to take advantage of me in one way or another.

‘But then I became tired of acting like I’m not a female with curves, so I wrote Man! I Feel Like a Woman!. I guess I was a late bloomer in getting comfortable in my own skin, but after a while you just have to stop picking away at the things you can’t change.’

In 2022, Shania revealed the lasting trauma of the abuse, explaining how being fondled as a child by her stepfather made her embarrassed of her body.

Speaking to The Sunday Times , Shania explained how these childhood traumas influenced her music, particularly hit tracks Black Eyes, Blue Tears and Man! I Feel Like a Woman! (pictured last year)

Speaking to The Sunday Times , Shania explained how these childhood traumas influenced her music, particularly hit tracks Black Eyes, Blue Tears and Man! I Feel Like a Woman! (pictured last year)

Shania added that she grew up feeling ashamed of being female, being afraid to show her body because boys would take advantage of her (pictured in 2022)

Shania added that she grew up feeling ashamed of being female, being afraid to show her body because boys would take advantage of her (pictured in 2022) 

After years of hiding and 'missing out the joy of being female' she finally accepted her curves and wrote her famous song, Man! I Feel Like a Woman! in 1997 to express her joy and empowerment about being a woman (pictured in 1999)

After years of hiding and ‘missing out the joy of being female’ she finally accepted her curves and wrote her famous song, Man! I Feel Like a Woman! in 1997 to express her joy and empowerment about being a woman (pictured in 1999)

She admitted that she would try anything she could to make herself go unnoticed in the house, to the extent that she used to flatten her breasts.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Shania said: ‘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.’

She went on to explain that this only continued as she grew up and left the household to experience it in day-to-day society.

She added: ‘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 sh***y to be a girl. Oh, it’s so sh***y to have boobs.” I was ashamed of being a girl.’

Last year, Shania released her sixth album, Queen of Me, becoming her third number one record in the UK.

The album cover saw her pose nude, which she explained was about trying to embrace her body after what she’d been through.

Appearing on the Today show in January last year, she said: ‘It’s really about saying I was abused as a kid. My stepfather would fondle me up on the top and make me go without a shirt and I was already maturing. This cringy horrible wanting to escape being in my own skin.’

Last year, Shania released her sixth album, Queen of Me, becoming her third number one record in the UK. The album cover saw her pose nude, which she explained was about trying to embrace her body after what she'd been through (pictured)

Last year, Shania released her sixth album, Queen of Me, becoming her third number one record in the UK. The album cover saw her pose nude, which she explained was about trying to embrace her body after what she’d been through (pictured) 

Shania is next set to take to the Pyramid Stage on Sunday June 30 at Glastonbury for the coveted legends slot, previously filled by the likes of Johnny Cash and Diana Ross over the years

Shania is next set to take to the Pyramid Stage on Sunday June 30 at Glastonbury for the coveted legends slot, previously filled by the likes of Johnny Cash and Diana Ross over the years 

She previously admitted getting the gig was an 'honour' and 'accolade' and as its her first time at the music festival, she said she was 'excited but nervous' and was going as a fan too

She previously admitted getting the gig was an ‘honour’ and ‘accolade’ and as its her first time at the music festival, she said she was ‘excited but nervous’ and was going as a fan too

She continued: ‘It’s time to start loving myself in my own skin and really embracing that and not being embarrassed of it or shy of it. This is who I am.

‘Loving who you are. I’m my own royalty. I’m the boss of me, and I’m responsible for the decisions I make, for what I say, for what I do. It’s a statement of self-confidence that I’ve grown into more over the last few years.’

Shania is next set to take to the Pyramid Stage on Sunday June 30 at Glastonbury  for the coveted legends slot, previously filled by the likes of Johnny Cash and Diana Ross over the years.

She previously admitted getting the gig was an ‘honour’ and ‘accolade’ and as its her first time at the music festival, she said she was ‘excited but nervous’ and was going as a fan too.

Glastonbury has faced criticism for it’s lack of female headliners, but this year sees Shania joined by Dua Lipa and SZA in prime slots. 

However, the That Don’t Impress Me Much hitmaker admitted that the issue still exists and predicts that there disproportionate number of male artists would rise again.

She said: ‘How can you dream of being somebody if only one in every 20 adults that you admire is the same sex as you? When you are a child you identify with people and see possibilities, but there is a lack of representation for women in this industry. It’s a lot more than just sexism, it’s about representation — for young girls to go, “I want to be her,” you need to make that feel obtainable.’

However, the That Don't Impress Me Much hitmaker admitted that there's still a lack of female artists and predicts that there disproportionate number of male artists would rise again (pictured last month)

However, the That Don’t Impress Me Much hitmaker admitted that there’s still a lack of female artists and predicts that there disproportionate number of male artists would rise again (pictured last month)

But she acknowledged that a lot of young girls wouldn't want to follow in her footsteps with how she started her own career (pictured in 1999)

But she acknowledged that a lot of young girls wouldn’t want to follow in her footsteps with how she started her own career (pictured in 1999)

Shania first began singing covers of country songs in bars for money at the age of eight and recalled travelling 'dirty places' with beds with bugs and performing in bars with rooms for live music next to strip shows (pictured in 1995)

Shania first began singing covers of country songs in bars for money at the age of eight and recalled travelling ‘dirty places’ with beds with bugs and performing in bars with rooms for live music next to strip shows (pictured in 1995) 

But she acknowledged that a lot of young girls wouldn’t want to follow in her footsteps with how she started her own career. 

Shania first began singing covers of country songs in bars for money at the age of eight and recalled travelling ‘dirty places’ with beds with bugs and performing in bars with rooms for live music next to strip shows.

She said: ‘That scene is more intimidating for a girl because men are drunk and boundaries get blurry. How can you attract women to that? How do they feel safe and stay protected?’ 



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