I can't remember when I starting loving Dolly Parton's music, but I will never forget the first time I saw her live. It was a few weeks after a death in my family, and one of my friends had given me tickets to see Parton play at Radio City Music Hall. As she sashayed across the stage, switching between variety show schtick and singing in that sparrow-like voice (I think she's America's answer to Edith Piaf), tears were streaming down my cheeks. I would always love her.
I'm pretty sure Dolly Parton is an angel. Just look at that halo of blonde hair! And while I'm normally a supporter of the all-natural path in aging, one can't help but love Dolly for her bosom-y embrace of all things camp. From the enhanced breasts to the platinum wigs to the puckered lips and those false lashes, you get the sense that she's at once embracing and satirizing the American standard of beauty. As Dolly is fond of saying, “It takes a lot of time and money to look this cheap, honey.”
But her beauty is beyond appearance. How many other former child stars are still making such positive contributions to society, through philanthropy, amusement parks and good, old-fashioned kindness? She's at once accessible and private: she's been happily married to Carl Thomas Dean for 46 years, but they have rarely been photographed together.
And those clothes, oh, those clothes. Parton has said, "I would never stoop so low as to be fashionable.” That's because Dolly doesn't do fashion, she does Dolly. From the '70s polyester (my personal favorite) to the '80s rhinestones...to the 2012 rhinestones...she knows who she is and what she likes.
What's even more important than aging naturally is aging happily. “I don't know what the big deal is about old age," Parton once said. "Old people who shine from the inside look 10 to 20 years younger.” In honor of Parton's 67th birthday on Saturday, let's take a look back at the many looks of the world's most shining woman.