Shania Twain says she tried to "flatten her boobs" growing up to avoid her sexually abusive stepfather.
"I hid myself and I would flatten my boobs," Twain revealed in an interview with The Sunday Times. "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."
The country star was one of five siblings, growing up in Ontario, Canada, with her mother Sharon and stepfather Jerry Twain.
Twain told the Times she would fight back against her stepfather, once using a chair during an altercation.
"I think a lot of that was anger, not courage. And it took a long time to manage that anger. You don’t want to be somebody that attacks me on the street," she told the publication. "because I will f---ing rip your head off if I get the chance."
In the interview, the singer talked in depth about the measures she took to hide her figure.
"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."
And the transition into adulthood was further complicated: "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---ty to be a girl. Oh, it's so s---ty to have boobs.' I was ashamed of being a girl."
When her stepfather was killed in a car accident when she was 22, Twain admitted she felt safer. As her career began to skyrocket, Shania did not improve her relationship with her body and the expectations of women in music continued to make her feel "exploited."
"All of a sudden it was like, well, what's your problem?” she recalled. "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."
Though she was becoming known for her iconic girl power anthems like "Man! I Feel Like a Woman," Twain confessed she still struggled to embrace her femininity and love her body.
"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," she explained.
Finally in her 20s, Shania was able to become more confident and learned how to use her confidence to protect herself.
"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 shared with the publication. "It was clear in my body language. And I think maybe what young girls can learn too is to exude that confidence."
Eventually the five-time Grammy Award winner fell in love with her body, "I was never an exhibitionist for the sake of, like, saying, you know, 'Look at my tits,'" she said, explaining her style and wardrobe felt intentional to her relationship with her femininity. "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," she said. "The unapologetic woman is a very powerful person indeed."
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.
The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline -- 800.656.HOPE (4673) -- provides free, 24/7 support for those in need.