A Look Back at Shania Twain’s Most Memorable Beauty Moments
Today, Shania Twain releases her first album in 15 years, which has obviously inspired some of us (but especially me) to revisit her past.
After all, Shania is a maverick. While merging the worlds of country and pop, she used her lyrics to lay down the line, to celebrate her brand of femininity, and to make clear that should Brad Pitt wish to woo her, she would not be impressed. Which is why we set out to rank some of her most memorable looks. Because lest we forget that she, too, was a queen of the nineties.
“From This Moment On” (1998)
Okay the thing is, I don’t care who you are or how monochromatic your makeup is, if you’re appropriating another culture, you get a hard pass.
Also, this song is not great. Let’s move on.
“I’m Gonna Getcha Good!” (2002)
In high school, a girl I went to school with turned this song up in her car and said it was totally about she and the guy she had a crush on. I laughed at her, but they’re engaged now, so there’s that.
Anyway, sometimes music videos serve as a reminder that regardless of how solid a smoky eye you may have (and light pink lipstick that complements it beautifully), it will always be overpowered by a barrel curl. If you are also a survivor of the early 2000s, please bow your heads and join me in remembering the damage we did at the hands of cheap hair tools.
“Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under” (1995)
It’s important to note that in 1999, I tried out for a school play by singing this song, and when I did not get the role I quit the play entirely because I know my worth. Second, Shania’s look is country music answer to Heidi from Home Improvement: big half-up hair with teased and sprayed bangs, a bold lip, and a traditional smoky eye in the form of pencil liner and dark brown shadow. Its purpose? To incite drama, preferably while calling out a man for cheating while interrupting the meals of various townsfolk.
It isn’t bad, it isn’t great, but it’s totally wasted on the family restaurant of local yokels.
“You’re Still The One” (1997)
This video is what happens when you only Instagram using the Sepia filter. Sure, you look nice, but do you really look nice? Exactly.
“Any Man Of Mine” (1995)
It’s important to note that when Shania Twain describes her sometimes-vibe as “ugly” in the second line, she is a liar. Not only because her symmetrical face is “perfect” (at least by scientific standards), but because girlfriend’s mid-nineties makeup reaches Jennifer Aniston levels of iconic. So, whether washing down horses, frolicking in a field, or prepping for a night on the town (and/or the stables), her look embodies the neutrality we tend to skim over when celebrating the decade’s biggest trends: a mocha lip, a lightly smoky eye (classic), and enough blush to evoke the spirit of contouring.
Here, she resides in the same camp as Rachel Green or Dana Scully: slightly dated, but not enough to incite regret. This is the nineties most of us knew best.
“Party For Two” (2004)
Everything about this video is upsetting, except for Shania Twain’s approach to makeup, which is flawless and fresh. Her pink lipstick and pastel eye shadow work with her ’70s-inspired layers (read: shag) and oversized hoops, creating a momentary disco vibe until you’re forced to reconcile the track pants paired with what appears to be a bargain discount Forever 21 shirt.
Unfortunately, all is undermined by the fact that Mark McGrath thinks he’s better than Shania Twain. Never make me watch this again.
“That Don’t Impress Me Much” (1997)
Another chapter in the book of makeup-centric reclamation (see: “Man! I Feel Like A Woman,” up next), the Shania of “That Don’t Impress Me Much” shows no interest in playing by the traditional set of country values, at least aesthetically.
In a wig, purple shadow, bright lips, and a powder that’s about two shades too light (we’ve all been there), she delivers a version of the late-nineties teen dream by using beauty to rebel against the person she was. Arguably, she’s every young soul who’s used makeup as a means of escaping the past. She’s unrecognizable, she’s unapologetic, and she’ll be damned if she uses blush or highlighter to create a three-dimensional face.
(Alternately: she is a mime.)
“You’ve Got A Way” (1999)
If you’ve forgotten what a wonderful movie Notting Hill is, how dare you, and please finish this piece and go watch it. Also, while Twain’s video persona has nothing to do with the plot or the characters, her late-nineties’ answer to a fairy and/or princess combines the decade’s existing penchant for brights (see: the pink lip hue) with the brief seventies revival that defined 1996-1999.
And in that way, her look here is unique: whimsical but very strong, it exists outside Shania’s traditional beauty wheelhouse, but is a testament to her versatility (which she particularly put on display during the Come On Over album cycle). Also, I still have no idea how to do that eye shadow myself, making it seem complex and amazing.
“Man! I Feel Like A Woman” (1997)
Behold: the most important video to ever exist in the world. As if liberating herself from years of denim and bangs, Shania’s take on Robert Palmer’s “Addicted To Love” helped establish her as pop icon — particularly as she played on gender roles and embraced her sexuality with less layers, a shorter hemline, and gloves none of us would ever wear for any event, ever. (But that’s fine, they work in this video.)
And then there was her makeup. Dark, smudged, and strong, she used it as a tool through which to declare her freedom from outdated country norms. Think about it: The Woman In Me hinged largely on Twain’s accessibility. Sure, she wrote songs about infidelity and relationships, but videos hinged on aesthetic neutrality. Her makeup could go from day to night, and even while confronting men in diners, she wasn’t a vamp. In “Whose Bed…” she was even approachable enough that no one she was talking to even noticed her.
But her persona in “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” demanded attention. While addressing her audience, we see as her her shadow and liner frame her eyes, commanding anyone watching to look at her, and, by proxy, to acknowledge her transformation. Here, makeup is power, and it signals her evolution from ingenue to grown-ass woman.