When you think of Dolly Parton, blonde hair, red lipstick, and glittery eye shadow come to mind. The Tennessee native, who made her first TV appearance at age 10, told Elle that she wanted to be the “country girl’s idea of glamour” from the start.
“I was not a raving natural beauty,” Parton, who stars in a new Netflix series Dolly Parton's Heartstrings debuting November 22, told Elle. “I just wanted to be pretty. I wanted to be striking. I wanted to be colorful. I wanted to be seen." When she moved to Nashville in 1965, she made a point to go all-out with her hair and makeup, and she didn't care who she was offending.
"When they say, ‘Less is more,’ I say, ‘That’s BS. More is more,’” she said. "I’m flashy, and I’m flamboyant. Had I not been a girl, I definitely would have been a drag queen. I like all that flamboyance. I love all that sparkle, and shine, and color."
Many have tried to sway Parton away from this persona. Parton mentioned her friend and mentor Chet Atkins, for example: "'You’re wearing too much makeup. You need to have a little more taste. People are never going to take you serious[ly] as a songwriter and singer,'" Parton recalled to Atkins saying. "'I know you’re great at that, but people are just going to look at you like it’s all about the body.'”
But of course, Parton didn't back down. “I not only didn’t tone it down, I figured if my work was truly good enough, people would eventually recognize that,” she told Elle. “It was about me knowing who I was, being happy with me, and feeling comfortable in the way I presented myself. If I was happy, I could make other people happy."
"That’s how I’ve always looked at it: that I look totally artificial, but I am totally real, as a writer, as a professional, as a human being," she continued. "A rhinestone shines just as good as a diamond.”
Parton wears many hats, and they're all big, bold, and sparkly, thank you very much. In addition to her singing career, the multi-millionaire has starred in iconic movies like Steal Magnolia and 9 to 5, co-founded a little (read: massively popular) theme park named Dollywood, and has penned smash hits like Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You."
More recently, she signed a deal with IMG to design her own fashion line. "I’m going to do it. I’m going to get there,” she told Elle. “It’s one of my dreams—the makeup, hair, and wigs, clothes, all of that sort of thing.”
Parton has always demanded equal treatment and respect, which is why she's long been a source of inspiration for women everywhere.
"I’ve certainly been harassed in my life. I’ve certainly had to put up with a lot of BS. I was always strong enough to walk away from it and not to have to fall under it," Parton told Elle, when asked about the Times Up and #MeToo movements. "I was lucky that I was in a good country town, where the men in the business have wives, and sisters, and cousins, and children. It’s not like out there in the big world, like in California, where they chew you up and spit you out, or in New York, where they don’t have time, or in other big cities.”
When asked why she isn't an activist herself, she said: “People say, ‘Why don’t you get out and do more?’ I say, ‘I don’t have to preach. I write it. I sing it. I live it.' If I’m not a good example of a woman in power, I don’t know who is. I’m out there just promoting mankind, but I am most definitely going to get behind those gals.”
"With all these young girls that have taken to me, it thrills me to death, and it’s such a great compliment that all these young people say that I’ve been an inspiration, and that I still am.”
You Might Also Like