The Shania Twain Barbie Is a Dream Come True

Photography courtesy of Mattel

In the words of our Canadian icon: “Let’s go, girls!”

Shania Twain has long been an icon beloved for her musical talent, unforgettable performances, singular style and sense of humour. It’s fitting, then, that the Canadian singer would have that status cemented, not in another Grammy Award or induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame (Twain was already given that honour in 2011), but in the form of her very own Barbie doll.

In honour of International Women’s Day on March 8 and the brand’s 65th anniversary on March 9, Twain is one of eight women around the world being celebrated as storytellers and change makers as part of Barbie’s 2024 Role Model lineup. Alongside trailblazers like Viola Davis, Helen Mirren, and Kylie Minogue, Twain’s Barbie features the singer in a costume from the 1997 music video for her girl power anthem “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!.” (Microphone and top hat included.)

Photography courtesy of Mattel

“I was very flattered,” Twain tells FASHION about the news. The decision is especially an honour given the year that Barbie has had with the 2023 release of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie, which reframed the famous doll as a feminist icon and encouraged young girls to see themselves as astronauts, presidents, and now, award-winning country singers. “I’ve always felt that it is a responsibility to be a role model of any kind, and it’s a privilege to represent something positive and empowering,” Twain says.

Positive and empowering is exactly what the Barbie brand means to the singer, who sees these toys — and the world created around them — as the first opportunity in which children, especially young girls, can start to dream. Twain knows it, because it was as a young woman growing up in suburban Ontario that she first started to dream of something bigger than her hometown.

“If I put myself back to my earliest creative memories and what it meant to me to be able to use my imagination, that was this free space to play and dream and not feel the weight of inhibition, [and] was really the the place where I discovered that there was potential to do something in the world beyond where I was, and maybe even even beyond what I could even have imagined at the time,” Twain says.

For the newly minted Barbie, that imagination didn’t necessarily stem from playing with a favourite Barbie doll, or any Barbie at all for that matter (her family couldn’t always afford new toys). Instead, “my toys were my guitar, getting a microphone, getting things that were related to music, getting my first record player,” Twain says. “So I created my own Barbies. I was creating my own Barbie world.”

Photography courtesy of Mattel

And while she didn’t always have a physical Barbie to play with, her music functioned in much the same way the iconic dolls do, allowing her to create stories and scenarios, write scripts about experiences outside her own. “This is what you do when you’ve got a Barbie, you start playing,” Twain says. “And playing allows you to dream. It’s a free space. Alone with my Barbies, there were no inhibitions. I could make up whatever story I wanted. It was a no-judgment zone and really helped develop my creativity.”

It’s especially meaningful, 30 years into her career, to be honoured as a storyteller, because that’s how the singer has always seen herself, taking pride in creating distinct worlds and characters through her songs through her lyrics — and fashion choices.

Whether it’s donning a cheetah-print catsuit and singing about Brad Pitt being a dud in the desert, riding through a Matrix-esque world while crooning about rekindling a romance, or strutting through a country diner asking a lover who else he’s been sleeping with, Twain loves to set a scene and transport her fans there. And it’s something she’ll continue to do into the future. In May, Twain is embarking on her first Las Vegas residency, “Shania Twain: Come On Over — The Las Vegas Residency,” a celebration of her career that will inevitably wow fans and transport them to another world — because that’s what the singer does best.

“I live to tell stories,” Twain says. “Storytelling is a whole other world that I explore every day of my life and enjoy very much.”

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