5 Reasons I Love Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton is my superhero.

With her trademark platinum-blonde hair, luminous smile and sweet songs, she could melt the coldest and most cynical of hearts.

As a 7-year-old girl growing up in the Midwest, I listened to her music on the radio and faithfully watched her variety show, Dolly. I loved her gentle soul and larger-than-life style. Soon, I was calling people “darlin’,” and wearing a pair of pink, cowgirl boots. (Yep. That was me–been throwing the ethnic curve since 1978.)

I adore everything about this photo.

There are many reasons why I think Dolly is an incredible woman. To date, the count is 1,022, but I’ve pared down my list to the top five:

#5: She’s a pioneer.
Don’t let her flamboyant façade fool you. Dolly Parton is a smart and fierce businesswoman. She decided to become a solo artist in the early ’70s when country music was a primarily male-driven industry. She’s made no apologies for being a woman, and writes songs that bravely share her feelings on love, insecurities, family, and hope. She’s one of many fearless steamrollers who helped paved the way for women in the music industry.

#4: She gives back.
There’s no doubt Dolly Parton is an icon, and she’s quick to use her success to help others. She created the “Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library” which helps foster children’s literacy. It was established in her home state of Tennessee, and its influence quickly grew. Since its inception in 1996, her organization has donated more than 40 million books to children across the globe.

#3: Her songs. Oh, my, her songs…
Dolly’s written some of the most touching and powerful ballads in music history. Her most famous, “I Will Always Love You,” is pretty good at tearing your heart out, throwing it in a blender, and serving you an emo-smoothie. However, she also wrote one of the most complex and unorthodox love songs, “Jolene.” The lyrics were written to another woman whose guile has bewitched her man. It’s been covered by many artists spanning different genres, such as The White Stripes, Mumford and Sons, and Ellie Goulding. Seriously. The best:

#2: She’s an accomplished actress.
9 to 5 and Steel Magnolias. I rest my case. Haven’t watched them? Be prepared to laugh, and also have rivers of tears and mascara streaming down your cheeks until they’re chapped. Such a beautiful mess.

Oh, don't get me started on how much I love this movie...

#1: She’s nobody’s fool.
A lot of important lessons can be gleaned from Dolly’s life and career:

She’s unabashedly genuine. Her courage to be vulnerable is her strength. She’s brutally honest about herself, but doesn’t take the critics too seriously. She’s an eternal optimist who isn’t afraid to love deeply and share it with others. Plus, I love her Dolly-isms. They’re marked with her raucous sense of humor and wisdom.

“Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”

“I was the first woman to burn my bra – it took the fire department four days to put it out.”

“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.”

How could you not love this woman?

Until next time, darlin’. xox

Photo via