Shania Twain on Posing Topless and 'Embracing' Menopause: I'm 'So Unashamed of My New Body'

The country queen posed topless for her "Waking Up Dreaming" single art

By Jeff Nelson
December 21, 2022

Shania Twain is embracing body positivity.

In September, the country-pop icon released her latest single "Waking Up Dreaming," which will appear on her upcoming sixth studio album, Queen of Me (out Feb. 3). And for the single art, she decided to pose topless.

"This is me expressing my truth. I'm comfortable in my own skin, and this is the way I am sharing that confidence," Twain, 57, tells PEOPLE. "I think the best fashion is confidence, and whatever you wear — if you're wearing it with that, it's fashionable. I am a woman in my late 50s, and I don't need to hide behind the clothes. I can't even tell you how good it felt to do nude shooting. I was just so unashamed of my new body, you know, as a woman that is well into my menopause. I'm not even emotional about it; I just feel okay about it. It's really liberating."

This isn't the first time Twain has broken boundaries in country music with her art. For her debut 1993 music video "What Made You Say That," she bared her midriff and went bra-less.

"From the very beginning — the very first video — I was ditching the bra," says Twain, who has still struggled with body image like most. "But, I was a lot firmer then, so as I grew older, I started feeling a different pressure of, 'Well, your breasts are not as plump as they used to be. Your skin is not as tight as it used to be. Maybe you should start covering it up a little bit more.'"

When those thoughts started to creep in, Twain decided to be bold.

"I hit this wall and was like, 'Whoa, my confidence is regressing. My courage is dulling. Why am I allowing this? Frig that. I am not regressing. I am embracing my body as it changes, as I should have from my childhood to my teens, as I should be from my taut, 20s and 30-year-old self, to my menopausal body. I'm not going to be shy about it. I want to be courageous about it, and I want to share that courage in the artwork that I am directing."

Twain struggled with her image as a child and, in a recent interview with The Sunday Times, said she would try and flatten her breasts to avoid abuse at the hands of her stepdad Jerry.

"I'm somebody that [was] never wearing a bathing suit at the beach as a teenager because I was way too self-conscious. My father made me feel self-conscious. It was almost dirty to wear shorts or not be entirely covered up. As my body was maturing and I was becoming a teenager, all of a sudden I was getting real curves. I mean, I'm a curvy person. I have boobs, and they bounce when I walk. So when that started happening, I started strapping myself down: I was wearing two bras; I was wearing tight, tight spandex things under my sweatshirts, that were way oversized; I was dressing like a boy. I didn't feel good about becoming a woman. I was embarrassed by it. I was hiding my curves. I was rejecting it," she says.

Adds Twain: "I was rejecting what I was growing into, which was very natural. How shameful is that? And not shameful of me, but shameful of that pressure. It was terrible."

Today, Twain says, "I'm feeling more comfortable in my own skin than I've ever felt before."

And she hopes to inspire generations of women to embrace body confidence.

"I want other women that are aging, or any women … even if you're 12 and you're developing, you shouldn't feel like you need to hide behind your fear or your self-conscious shield," Twain says. "But you have to do it within your own sense of what is right and good and safe for you."

For more on Shania Twain, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Thursday.