Dolly Parton has earned a place in people’s hearts for being true to herself and following her own rules, but that hasn’t stopped naysayers from criticizing her, especially her looks.
The 77-year-old multi-talented entertainer is known for her bright, sparkly, tight ensembles, big blonde hair, and heavy makeup. Her signature style is uniquely her, and most believe she pulls it off with effortless grace. But she’s met many people who think it’s their place to give negative opinions on how she presents herself, which she highlighted in her new podcast miniseries, What Would Dolly Do?
In one conversation, per Variety, Dolly Parton shared that the late country singer Chet Atkins is among those who confronted her about her looks. He told her to “tone down” her style when she was just making a name for herself. Obviously, she didn’t listen.
“He was running RCA at the time,” she remembered. “And he pulled me over to the side because he really liked me. He said, ‘Dolly, I really don’t believe that people are going to take you seriously as a singer and songwriter unless you tone down your look. You’re a right pretty girl. You don’t need all that.’ And I said, ‘Well, okay, I’ll take that to heart, Mr. Atkins. Thank you for your advice.’ And of course, I just got worse with it.”
“Years later, after I became a star, he sidled up beside me and said, ‘Now, ain’t you glad you listened to my good advice?’” she joked.
Dolly Parton Would Have Words with Chet Adkins Today
Dolly referred to Atkins as a “dear friend,” but she admitted to co-host Kelleigh Bannen that she would give him a piece of her mind if he said that to her today.
“I’d say, ‘Go to hell. I ain’t doing it.’” she shared. “My true belief with most things, you’ve got to really find out who you are, what makes you happy, what you’re comfortable in, and if you feel like you look your best, according to your rules, then you are going to do your best. I really believe that. And I think everybody has their own little things they love. To me, that is what fashion is.”
Dolly Parton started facing judgment long before she was a performer, however. The icon began coming into her style when she was a kid living in Tennessee, according to her book Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones. She found inspiration in Marilyn Monroe, Mae West, and a woman in her small town dubbed “the town tramp.” The end result made her schoolmates’ mothers snub her for being a bad influence on their daughters.
During the podcast, Parton said the mothers called her “cheap” because she teased her hair and wore “too much makeup.” They also made assumptions about her virtue that were completely untrue.
Fortunately, Dolly’s mom helped her remain confident in herself because she trusted her daughter and knew she respected herself. Furthermore, she saw a lot of value in Dolly’s efforts to always be herself.
You can listen to the entire conversation on Apple Music and Apple Podcasts.
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