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Shania Twain is known for being a fabulous country music star today. But as a child, the Canadian singer was true tomboy, preferring to play with boys and even getting into fights at school. One fight, however, turned into a friendship for Twain.

Shania Twain, who once became friends with a childhood bully, posing for a photo
Shania Twain | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Shania Twain was a tomboy growing up

Shania Twain reflected on her childhood in her 2011 memoir From This Moment On.

“I used to challenge friends to thigh-punching contests to see who could withstand the hardest blow, while at night I ran around with the boys pulling pranks, like sneaking into parking lots and letting the air out of people’s tires,” she recalled. “I was the only girl and much more concerned with fitting in with the boys than making friends with the girls.”

Twain was a self-proclaimed tomboy growing up. But she quickly learned about everything that entails.

“One day another tomboy, two years older than me, and bigger, taller, and stronger, challenged me to a fight after school,” she remembered. “I was scared and went through the whole day with knots in my stomach. This girl was a real bully — the genuine article — and there was no way out of it.”

“At the sound of the dismissal bell, I tried to avoid her by dashing out the school doors and hightailing it for home. But she eventually caught up to me,” she continued. “The ‘fight’ took no more than ten seconds: she shoved me to the ground, then sat on me squeezing all the air out of my lungs. I couldn’t breathe, and I panicked. The girl was just too heavy to budge.”

“I guess she sensed my desperate struggle for air and realized it was time to get off me. Or, maybe she was just bored, since I didn’t present much of a challenge,” she concluded. “In any event, it was over, and I was relieved to be alive.”

She eventually became friends with a girl who bullied her

Twain went on to discuss how she eventually became friends with the girl who nearly suffocated her. Twain, who didn’t have a regular personal hygiene routine at home, learned about a lot from the girl and her family.

“Being a nine-year-old tomboy, I didn’t fuss much about my appearance like some of the other girls did. ‘Didn’t fuss much’ might be putting it mildly: I used to skip brushing my teeth, not really understanding the point of maintaining a Colgate smile,” she said.

“Oddly enough, I ended up becoming friends with my former nemesis, the toughest tomboy in town,” Twain said. “She invited me over to her apartment for a sleepover and I remember her mother handing me a toothbrush before bedtime, since I hadn’t brought my own. I found it odd that they actually had a bedtime brushing routine, for as with so many other things, my parents were far more lax about our caretaking.”


Shania Twain Used to Blowdry Her Hair With a Vacuum Cleaner, Which Made It Smell ‘Like Old Dog Poop’

She became a global superstar

Twain continued to have a difficult upbringing, witnessing abuse in her home and often surviving on meals like bread with mayonnaise on it.

After years of hard work and dedication, Twain eventually became the world-famous country music star that people know and love. She remains the highest-selling female country music singer in history and has sold upwards of 80 million records worldwide.