Dolly Parton Has Diamond Solutions for Living in a Rhinestone World

Practical advice from my hero, Ms. Dolly Parton.

Jul 20, 2011 at 11:02am | Leave a comment

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Dolly Parton is my hero. I love her music, I love her wigs and spangly dresses and I love her one-liners, ala "It costs a lot to make a person look this cheap" and "My feet are small for the same reason my waist is small -- things don't grow in the shade."And I love my bible, aka her autobiography, "Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business," which is full of this kind of Dollyish wisdom.

So when I read this article about how Dolly wears high heels at home because she can't reach her cabinets otherwise, I thought That's SO Dolly! She's folksy, you know. Full of practical solutions to life's problems. As she puts it, "In the mountains, even today, if something is there you find a way to use it. I believe that philosophy has made me what I am today."

Read on for some of my favorite Dolly advice plucked from the pages of this excellent book.

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page 59, On Not Being Able to Afford Actual Makeup

"Lipstick was the most fascinating thing to me ... for this I used Merthiolate....It wasn't exactly red, a little too orangey and was truly capable of making us look trashy and bearing out Daddy's worst nightmares. If we were lucky we'd have Merchurochrome. It was a truer red and didn't burn so much."

"Next came face powder, or at least my substitute for it -- flour. I didn't have anything to approximate base maekup so I figured the flour would help hide my freckles. My "powder" also helped hide the dirt. I wanted to be feminine, but apparently not at the price of having to break down and actually wash my face."

"After considerable experimentation, I found that the most reasonable facisimile I could find for eye makeup was to burn kitchen matches, lick the blackened ends, and apply the black paste to my eyebrows and lashes."

"Finally, I would use the juice of pokeberries for rouge and sometimes to color my lips. When the pokeberries weren't in season....I would simply pinch the devil out of my cheeks until they took on a red blush."

Page 87, on Sex

"I was always very open-minded about sex, and I'm glad that I still am. I have always loved sex. I've never had a bad experience with it. I am a very emotional person and to me it's another way, a very intimate and wonderful way of showing emotion. It was never dirty to me. After all, God gave us the equipment and the opportunity. There's the old saying, 'If God had meant for us to fly, he'd have given us wings.' Well look at what he did give us."

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page 126, on Falsies

"Believe it or not, I thought I needed falsies. To simulate those, I would sneak into the closet and cut the shoulder pads out of a woman's coat, Grandma's or somebody's. I'd do that in the middle of the summer when I knew they wouldn't be missed for a long time. when I discovered that there was actually a thing called a push-up bra, that, to me, had to be the equal of the day Einstein figured out that relativity thing. After all, it's all relative. And now my relatives would have to go around in the winter with slumpy-looking shoulders."

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page 131, on Privacy

"Self-respect was difficult enough to maintain at home, especially for a young girl trying to become a woman in a household of men and boys. People have often asked me how we girls managed any privacy in a house with so many boys and no private rooms. It was difficult. We used to bathe with a washcloth from a pan of water. We would first start at our necks and faces and wash down as far as possible. Then we would wash the road dust from our feet and wash up as far as possible. Later, when the boys were out of the room, we would wash 'possible.'"

page 254, on Dieting

"I remember something in a book I read called Gentle Eating. The author said you should pretend the angels are eating with you and that you want to save some for them. I loved that idea, because I love angels. I have to admit, though, there were times I would slap those angels out of the way and have their part too."

"One other hint I'd like to pass on has to do with chewing. Our taste buds are only in our mouths, after all, and we don't really taste the food when we swallow it. You can get a lot of satisfaction from the taste of things you love by just chew, chew, chew, chew, Chattanooga chew-chewing, and then not swallowing. 'Wait a minute,' you're thinking. 'If I don't swallow, won't I have to spit the food out?' You're right. 'That's disgusting,' you say. That may be, but what's more disgusting? Spitting out food or being a lardass?"

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page 221, On relationships

"Carl has had various people and even family members approach him to say I was having an affair with this or that person. Carl would simply say, 'Well, I would think less of any man that didn't fall in love with her.' And he means it. He seems to have an understanding of how I am and how people are toward me. He seems to know that I'll be back, and that love affairs and relationships are just part of my dealings with people. He knows that I will always come home."

page 275, On business

"There are basically two kinds of men you have to deal with in business: the ones who want to screw you out of money, and the ones who want to screw you, period. The second guy is the easiest to deal with. If I catch a man who is not looking into my eyes as he talks to me, I have scored two really big points with him already. A smart woman can take a man who thinks with his small head and quickly turn the would-be screwer into the screwee."

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page 287, on plastic surgery

"I feel like it is not only a right but an obligation for a woman, especially a woman in the public eye, to look as good as she can. Whatever you are comfortable with and can afford, you should do. ... I have always said that 'We all have our drawbacks, but some of us are drawed back further than others.' ...My spirit is too beautiful and alive to live in some dilapidated old body if it doesn't have to. And I don't."

I know, I went on forever, but amazing Dolly quotes are plentiful and it was hard to narrow it down. And of course no Dolly article would be complete without my all-time favorite video of DP playing her acrylic fingernails on "60 Minutes."

PS: Dear Ms. Parton, please get in touch so that I can interview you/die happy.

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