Meanwhile 71years old Parton has learned and shared some very valuable lessons about self-image, self-respect, and the time-saving benefits of owning a wig.
- Just Be Yourself
“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”
This philosophy has been applied to everything from Parton’s rags-to-riches story of artistic triumph to her over-the-top look. “A lot of people have said I’d have probably done better in my career if I hadn’t looked so cheap and gaudy but I dress to be comfortable for me, and you shouldn’t be blamed because you want to look pretty,” she once said. Her aesthetic was improbably inspired by a “tramp” who lived in her town when Parton was growing up. “I thought she was absolutely beautiful,” she recalled. “She had those piles of bleached hair, red lipstick, nails, and cheeks and high-heel shoes.” Whatever kind of lifestyle Parton’s look connotes, “I’m not intimidated by how people perceive me.”
- Whenever Possible, Avoid a Blowout
“People always ask me how long it takes to do my hair. I don’t know, I’m never there.”
After spending years trying to tease her own hair to the heavens and bleaching it to its breaking point, Parton decided early on in her career to wear wigs. “That way I never have a bad hair day,” she explained. Her collection has grown to include “at least 365. One for each day,” she joked. The singer has never tried to hide the faux hair, famously introducing the song “Dumb Blonde” by saying, “I’m not offended by all of the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb and I also know that I’m not blonde.”
- Don’t Worry About a Diet
“I tried every diet in the book. I tried some that weren’t in the book. I tried eating the book. It tasted better than most of the diets.”
Parton’s slim figure is attributed to a pair of rhinestone-encrusted sneakers and a lifetime of staying active. The self-proclaimed junk-food lover admittedly falls off the wagon with diets easily. “My weaknesses have always been food and men—in that order.”
- Design the Woman You Want to Be
“There is no such thing as natural beauty.”
Parton read that line as Truvy Jones in Steel Magnolias, but it’s one she’s echoed in her own life. “If I’m gonna have any looks at all, I’m gonna have to create them,” she said with a laugh. Not afraid of a needle, Parton credits injectables with keeping a sunny appearance (“People say I look so happy—and I say, ‘That’s the Botox’ ”) and simplifying her daily regimen (“My face pretty much maintains itself.”) No matter what she decides to get done, she promises, “I’m comfortable in my own skin, no matter how far it’s stretched.”
- Embrace the Art of Makeup Application
“You don’t need to buy expensive cosmetics; almost anything will do if you know how to apply it.”
For Parton, the art of makeup has always been more important than the products used. “Until I was a teenager, I used red pokeberries for lipstick and a burnt matchstick for eyeliner,” she has said. “I used honeysuckle for perfume.” The contents of Parton’s makeup bag may have changed (now, she jokes, “It costs a lot of money to look this cheap!”), but her look has always been photo-ready no matter what she’s had on hand.
- Grow Your Nails Out
“My nails are my rhythm section when I’m writing a song all alone. Some day, I may cut an album, just me and my nails.”
Sure, long nails have their inconveniences—but the pursuits of glamour and percussion are not among them.