Dolly Parton Once Said She’d ‘Dress Differently’ if She Wanted to Be Sexy For Men: ‘I Don’t Want That Responsibility’

Dolly Parton has a look. She’s had the same look her entire career. In an interview with Playboy in 1978, Parton told the publication that she’s been attracted to “gaudiness” since she was a little girl. She and her sisters never had access to makeup growing up. They’d paint red medicine on their lips and use charred matches to draw in their eyebrows. Now, she’s just making up for lost time.

Parton told her interviewer that she doesn’t get dressed in the morning for men. She doesn’t want the “responsibility” of being a “beautiful woman.”

Dolly Parton poses for a portrait in a bright yellow dress with her signature big blonde hair.
Dolly Parton, 1978 | Harry Langdon/Getty Images

Dolly Parton knows she looks ‘outrageous’

Immediately after the Playboy interviewer greeted the Queen of Country with a “Hello, Dolly,” she cut right to the chase.

“Hi,” she responded. “I’ll save you the trouble of askin’: Why do I choose to look so outrageous?”

The interviewer asked her if she usually gets asked that question first.

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“That’s what we usually end up talkin’ about,” she said.

Even at the beginning of her career, Parton was very aware of how the public perceived her image.

“Can you imagine anybody wanting to look this way for real?” she asked, laughing. “When people first get to know me, they say, ‘Why do you wear all of this?’ Then, after a week of knowing me, they totally understand. They know it’s just a bunch of baloney. But why not? Life’s boring enough, it makes you try to spice it up. I guess I just throw on a little too much spice.”

Dolly Parton has never thought of herself as ‘a sex symbol’

While Miley Cyrus might say her honorary godmother made country music “sexual,” Parton said, at the time of the interview, that she’d “never thought of [herself] as a sex symbol.”

“It never crossed my mind that anybody might think I was sexy,” she said.

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“But surely, after all the media exposure you’ve received, you have to be conscious of what people say and think about you,” suggested the interviewer.

“I didn’t say what you-all thought,” she said. “I said it never once crossed my mind, even now. I still can’t get it through my head that people think I’m supposed to be sexy or somethin’.”

‘I don’t want to have to be like a beautiful woman’

Parton went on to say that she didn’t want the “responsibility” of being seen as sexy.

“I don’t want to have to keep up an image like that,” she said. “I don’t want to have to be like a beautiful woman, like Raquel Welch—which is no trouble, I never would anyway.”

The “Jolene” singer believed that if people expected her to be beautiful, she’d feel more pressure.

“I’m just sayin’ I wouldn’t want people to look at me and if I gained ten pounds, they’d say, ‘Oh, God, she’s ruined her looks,'” she said.

‘Men are not usually turned on by artificial looks’

Simply put, Parton has always liked how she looks. She dresses the way she does for herself, and always has.

“I like the big hairdo, the gaudy clothes,” she said. “There’s not much sexy about that. Men are not usually turned on by artificial looks and I’ve always been like that.”

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“If I was trying to really impress men or be totally sexy, then I would dress differently,” she said.

“How would you look?” asked the interviewer.

“I would wear low-cut things,” she responded. “Try to keep my weight down. Try to really work on my body. I would find a new, softer, sexier hairstyle—it would be my own hair, some way.”

Dolly Parton gets dressed in the morning for herself, and the man she’s been married to for 54 years, Carl Dean, “likes [her] gaudy or ungaudy.”

“Why bother? I’m already married and he don’t mind how I look,” she said.