Lots of images may come to mind when people think of the word “feminist.” Whether those thoughts are good or bad, people generally have a stereotypical view of how a feminist should look and act.
Despite explicitly attempting to distance herself from the label of feminist, Dolly Parton has become one of the women who truly embodies what feminism is all about.
Since the start of her career, Dolly Parton has been fending off comments about her hair, boobs, and flashy outfits with the classic sense of humor that has become synonymous with her name. She is noted as having said such things as, “It costs a lot of money to look this cheap.” In fact, most of the jokes about the singer come from Parton herself.
The essence of Parton’s feminism is often found in her career.
She comes from a working-class background, keenly aware of poverty and its effects. One of Parton’s very first songs, “Dumb Blonde” was all about a woman doing just fine on her own after her male partner leaves her. And that’s just one of many, many empowering songs from the award-winning songstress.
Besides her lyrical content, she’s had a trailblazing career as a woman in the music industry. She’s sold over 100 million albums worldwide, written over 3,000 songs (no, that’s not a typo), and won 9 Grammy’s.
She is also well known for her philanthropy work, like her Imagination Library, which was inspired by her father’s inability to read and write. Launched in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library mails free books to children from birth to age five in communities across the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and the Republic of Ireland. Over 1 million books are mailed each month.
Parton says of her efforts: “When I was growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, I knew my dreams would come true. I know there are children in your community with their own dreams. They dream of becoming a doctor or an inventor or a minister. Who knows, maybe there is a little girl whose dream is to be a writer and singer. The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.”
Recently, the 2019 Grammy’s recognized her contributions to country music with an all-star musical tribute, including Parton herself. Although her career spans over 50 years, Parton is far from done.
She says, “I’m proud to be a woman, proud to be a woman in business, proud enough to do what I do.”
Currently, a sequel to the 1980s blockbuster film 9 to 5, which Parton starred in, is underway.
The original film’s plot follows three female employees who find ways to get back at their sexist boss.
Parton believes that the original film is still relevant today, especially with the #MeToo movement and is confident in the future of women, despite her distance from the term feminist.
She says of herself, “I’m a feminine girl, I’m a working girl. I think we all should be treated with respect and if we do a good job, we should get paid for it.”
Dolly Parton is a hard worker, a vocal supporter of women, and altogether empowering. As a pioneer for women in the music industry, she has made her mark on the world and her legacy will live on for years to come.
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