Dolly Parton Says The Worst Career Advice She Ever Got Was To Tone Down Her Look: “I Wasn’t A Natural Beauty”

Dolly Parton country music
Ron Davis/Getty Images

There’s absolutely nobody in show business who works as hard as Dolly Parton.

At 76, she shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. From a perfume line, to a new baking line and writing a novel with famous author James Patterson called Run, Rose, Run, she’s a businesswoman as much as she is country music artist.

And she recently sat down with organizational psychologist Adam Grant for his WorkLife podcast to talk about her illustrious career and some of the bad advice she’d been offered throughout the decades.

The worst, she says, came from people telling her she needed to change her iconic look:

“The main advice that people wanted to give me was to change my look… to go simpler with my hair and the way that I dress, not to look so cheap, nobody was ever going to take me seriously they would say.”

I think it’s safe to say that ignoring those suggestions and following her heart was the best career advice she could’ve taken… and she gave it to herself, no less:

“The way I look, and the way I looked then, was a country girl’s idea of glam, just like I wrote in my ‘Backwoods Barbie’ song.

It was really like a look I was after. I wasn’t a natural beauty. I just like to look the way I look. I’m so outgoing inside, I need the way I look to match all of that.”

It’s hard to even imagine Dolly without all the big blonde wigs and makeup, and I don’t want to. She wouldn’t be herself without all of it. There’s a reason you can’t go into a single story anymore without seeing her face on something.

Of course, she famously modeled her look after the town tramp, and she’s told the story many times throughout her career. She’s always defended her physical appearance, too, even though she shouldn’t have to.

I mean, Dolly shut Barbara Walters all the way down even back in 1977 (in the nicest way possible) after Barb implied that she looked like a joke:

So let’s all head Dolly’s exceptional career advice… be you, do you, and screw what anyone else has to say about it.

Time to cue up a little “Backwoods Barbie”:

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock