Shania Twain on Becoming a Barbie Doll and How She Became Confident in Her Own Skin: ‘I Was Very Self-Conscious Before That’

Shania Twain has been a role model to her fans for nearly 30 years — but now Barbie has made it official. 

The musical superstar is a 2024 Barbie role model, selected by Mattel to receive her own one-of-a-kind Barbie doll to honor her work breaking down barriers and inspiring women to accomplish their dreams. Not available at retail, Mattel has been creating the one-of-a-kind Barbies annually since 2018 in conjunction with March 8’s International Women’s Day. Also among the eight honorees this year are actresses Helen Mirren and Viola Davis, as well as pop icon Kylie Minogue.

The role models are part of Barbie’s 65th anniversary, to be celebrated on Mar. 9, which also includes introducing a retail collection that celebrates the most popular Barbie career dolls over the past 65 years, and bows new dolls inspired by classic Barbie looks.

Twain, speaking from Los Angeles via Zoom with her Barbie by her side, says she was so flattered to be selected: “I take being a role model, seriously because I know the impact one can have on somebody else’s life can be negative or positive. I choose to aim for the positive.” 

But that doesn’t mean sugarcoating things, the country legend stresses. “I want to make people feel good and happy, even if that means sometimes sharing difficult or unhappy things about my own life to make others feel that they’re not alone,” she says. Key to being a role model is also Twain’s belief in self-empowerment, “because those times when you feel alone or are genuinely alone, you’ve got yourself — so you better know how to self-empower. It’s such an important vital tool and skill to have.” 

Her Barbie sports Twain’s signature top hat, long black coat and thigh high boots from 1999’s classic “Man! I Look Like a Woman!” video. Twain picked that era, because of the message she felt the song and the look imparted. “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” is “a fun party song” for a lot of people, she says, but there’s a deeper meaning behind the tune.

“That is the joy of getting in touch with your self courage, and saying, ‘I’m not afraid to be myself.’ That’s why I wrote the song in the first place,” she explains. “I was really starting to come into my own, not as a confident female, but I was just starting to feel confident in my female body. I was very self-conscious before that in all of my youth.”

The video was a way of embracing her femininity and her strength. “I’m going, ‘OK, I have a lot to say. I want to be taken seriously. But I’m also a woman and I have curves and I don’t want to have to hide behind them,” she continues. “I want to enjoy fashion as a woman. I want to be able to dress up. I wasn’t thinking Barbie — I couldn’t have imagined that — but it’s such a perfect fit, because it’s a manifestation of dreams and imagination.”

Her Barbie comes with a modern update that meant the world to her, the singer says, as she removes the hat to reveal cascading pink hair she sometimes sported during last year’s The Queen of Me tour— as opposed to the brunette locks in the video.

“The video and styling for ‘Man! I Feel Like a Woman!’ was all about peeling off layers and the structure and letting lose and sharing what is also underneath all of that. On The Queen of Me tour, I went crazy with all the hair on the tour,” she says. She praises Barbie team for combining the old and new. “They allowed my new contemporary take on myself to enter the world of Barbie and I just am really flattered by that,” she says. 

More than 25 years since the video’s release, Twain sees shared themes between the “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” clip and this summer’s Barbie movie. “What I love most about [the movie], which is also what I did with the song and video, was, ‘OK, let’s not diminish the aesthetics. Let’s be true to our Barbie beauty, our beauty aesthetics, the attention to detail in all its Barbie glory and still say something meaningful.’”

Twain returns to her Come On Over residency at Planet Hollywood’s Bakkt Theater in Las Vegas on May 10. It follows the Queen of Me tour, which grossed more than $110 million dollars and was the fifth biggest country tour of 2023, according to Billboard Boxscore.

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