Dolly Parton Recalls Getting 'Whipped' by Preacher Grandfather Over Clothing Choices

The legendary singer said she modeled her look after the 'town tramp,' a local woman who wore heels and tight skirts.

Dolly Parton knew from a young age she wanted to grow up to be "nothing but trash." Don't fret! Allow the legendary crooner to explain.

In an extensive interview with The Guardian to talk about her upcoming new book centered around her fashion, Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones, the "Jolene" songstress recalled the physical punishment she received at the hands of her preacher grandfather all because he hated her clothing choices modeled after the "town tramp," a local woman who wore high heels and tight skirts.

"She was flamboyant. She had bright red lipstick, long red fingernails. She had high-heeled shoes, little floating plastic goldfish in the heels of them, short skirts, low-cut tops, and I just thought she was beautiful," Parton told The Guardian. "When people would say, 'She ain't nothing but trash,' I would always say, 'Well, that's what I'm gonna be when I grow up."

While everyone around her family -- and those around her town -- looked down on the local woman and demeaned her fashion choices, Parton had a much different view of the local woman. And because of that, she paid a dear price. But she didn't care.

"I was willing to pay for it," she told the outlet. "I'm very sensitive. I didn't like being disciplined -- it hurt my feelings so bad to be scolded or whipped or whatever. But sometimes there's just that part of you that's willing, if you want something bad enough, to go for it."


The scolding, the "whipping," and the hurt feelings all led to Parton's "The Sacrifice" from her 2011 album, Better Day.

"And it kind of sums it up," she says. "It says, 'I was gonna be rich no matter how much it cost / And I was going to win no matter how much I lost / Down through the years I've kept my eye on the prize / And you ask if it's worth the sacrifice.' I think it is, for me."

That being said, Parton looks back on her fashion choices and admits now second-guessing herself.

"I've been at this so long, I've worn some of the most bizarre things -- my hairdos have always been so out there," she says. "At the time you think you look good, then you look back on it, like, what was I thinking?"

The "9 to 5" singer admits that her flamboyant has, at times, worked against her, especially with record executives.

"Sometimes that's worked for me, sometimes it can work against you," she says. "It took me probably years longer to be taken serious, but I wasn't willing to change it, and I figured if I had the talent, it'd show up sooner or later."

Ahead of the release of her new book, Parton shared in July what she'd like to do next.

"I have new dreams every day. I wanna have my own network TV show, where I can actually do a lot of new things and produce," she said. "I wanna have my own story called Life of Many Colors, where I have a whole series of my life. Stuff that people haven't seen or know or heard about, and my people, where I come from, where I got to be and who I am; to have the behind-the-scenes and the adventures of my life."

She went on to say she'd like to have her own line of makeup, wigs and clothes. And she acknowledged that her fame afforded a lot of opportunities to come her way.

"Once you get to a certain place in your career you get a lot of offers," she said. "And some of them are just a little hard to turn down."


Latest News