She has a new album on the way and a world tour kicking off next year, but she recently gave a very candid interview with the Sunday Times, sharing some of the struggles she went through as a young woman in the music industry.
We all know and love her as the queen of pop country, but her life growing up in Canada was far from ideal. She grew up with a physically and sexually abusive stepfather, and both of her parents died in a car accident by the time she was 22 years old.
Shania told the paper that she would flatten her boobs out on purpose to try to go unnoticed, which is just horrific to hear and, unfortunately, something far too many women will probably relate to.
She says that tragic experience growing up skewed the way she viewed being a girl and how she felt about herself as an adult:
“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. 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.”
She continued, saying once she started creating a name for herself in country music, she felt like she had to show off her body in ways that made her uncomfortable for the sake of “making it” and those issues from her youth just compounded in much deeper ways.
She said she often felt “exploited” and “degraded” (and who wouldn’t?), but she was convinced she had to play the part of the “glamorous singer,” so she often just pushed herself to wear her femininity “more freely” anyway:
“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.”
Now, Shania wants to share her story in hopes of inspiring other young girls and women of all ages to have confidence in themselves, how they look and who they are, hence her new album title, Queen of Me.
She also opened up on her decision to go topless in a recent photo for her single “Waking Up Dreaming,” which was a personal feat of displaying that confidence for all to see.
At the end of the day, she says finally feels like it’s “ok to be a girl”:
“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.
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. The unapologetic woman is a very powerful person indeed.”
It’s hard to imagine that Shania ever had struggles like this, because I always viewed her as uber-confident and clearly extremely stunning, but I think it’s so admirable what she’s doing now.
Opening up will certainly expose a lot of the unfortunate truths and nuances of what it’s like to be a woman, especially a young woman, in the music industry (and certainly many other businesses and facets of life) in a way a lot of people probably never really knew the depth of before.
And while it’s certainly gotten better over time, I love that she’s so unashamed to share her truth and help countless women feel a little less alone and a little bit more understood.