Shania Twain is a Canadian singer, songwriter, and actress, and the voice behind cult hits like “Man! I Feel Like A Woman” and “That Don’t Impress Me Much.” The winner of five Grammy Awards, she remains the best-selling female artist in country music history. She’s currently headlining Shania Twain ‘Let’s Go!’ The Las Vegas Residency at the Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino through June 2020. She stars alongside KJ Apa and Britt Robertson in the Erwin brothers’ I Still Believe, in theaters March 13. Follow her on Instagram @shaniatwain.
At 26 I was in Canada, in a place called Huntsville, Ontario, working at The Deerhurst Resort in a variety show. It was the first time that I'd performed outside of high school, and all of a sudden I had to go from country rock bar singer to a much more glamorous production that spanned several decades of music. I was the lead singer, and I had to wear a long gown or sequin dresses. I don't think I'd ever worn makeup — maybe a little bit of foundation — so it was a whole new experience.
Never, ever cake on your mascara. Keep your split ends cut. Once they start they never stop.
No perms! Never get a perm. And if you do, make sure they don’t over-curl. It was so in fashion, but my hair just didn't take to it well. Whenever I look back at photos of me wearing pencil jeans I'm like, ‘Oh, why did I do that?’ It never worked.
"Invest in friendships that are really going to be life-lasting. Nurture and cherish those. They're valuable."
Instead of being part of a trend, be the trend.
If you can go braless, you should, and don’t worry so much. I would have worn a lot more things that I wanted to wear if I wasn't concerned about wearing a bra. We were always told, Never show your bra, never let the straps hang out, blah blah blah. I wish I could tell myself to be more comfortable with my body and less concerned about pressing everything in and strapping everything down. Spanx are a great invention, but not for a 26-year-old. Enjoy your liberty. Enjoy your body’s shape.
I was never a gym person. At 26, I was literally chopping wood, and I would run a lot. I was more concerned about being strong and shaping my body to stay fit, than I was about being thin. Eat well, and take care of yourself, and whatever weight that leaves you at, accept it.
Nobody needs a lot of friends. Invest in friendships that are really going to be life-lasting. Nurture and cherish those. They're valuable.
Listen more than you speak, and then apply what you learn.
I won't lie. I had a fairly turbulent and tragic upbringing. My parents died young, and I was responsible for my younger brothers. I was overwhelmed by how many obstacles there were. I still needed more love. I was alone, and I didn't have support, but I knew what I had. Never look back. One foot in front of the other. The only thing that matters is where you’re going. Aspire to be more than your hardship. And when all else fails, Angela’s Ashes will put things in perspective.
Be fearless; dare to be yourself. There's only one you, so just be you. It’s a natural asset to use. Don't lose focus of your vision. Sometimes that means you’re not going to be able to party. You might miss out on a lot of fun. Take confidence in whatever your plan is, whatever your goals are. You have to be personally convinced that it’s worth it.
"Above all, know yourself."
Be frugal. Save for a rainy day. At 26 I never knew where or when my next job was going to be. I made my clothes last as long as they could, just stretching everything out as much as possible. I would get creative with mending, and buy different dress sizes and men’s items with designs. I was always reinventing my clothes, cutting jeans, sewing buttons, painting something different on my shirt or something like that. It’s a good way to have an individual style.
Above all, know yourself.
I was in a long-term relationship at 26, and that really helped me focus a lot on my work. I was never distracted about chasing boys or being chased. It probably sounds kind of old-fashioned to say that, but it was good for me as a professional to have personal stability. Partners should support you and your dreams. You've got to do your thing. Don’t hold each other back as a couple. You're still growing up, follow your own path.
As told to Anne Cohen. This interview has been condensed from its original transcription.