What Dolly Parton taught me about staying in my lane | HerCanberra

Everything you need to know about canberra. ONE DESTINATION.

What Dolly Parton taught me about staying in my lane

Posted on

Dolly Parton’s America is a podcast that delves deeply into why Dolly is so adored, the premise of which is Dolly’s Q Score.

A Q Score is a celebrity rating system in which the public are polled for whether they (a) know a celebrity and, (b) like them.

An equation is then applied, and Dolly stays at the top not for her recognisability, but because of her resounding lack of haters.

My recent and short-lived television career as a guest on SBS Insight confirmed without a shadow of a doubt what I feared most, and why I wanted to be like Dolly; not hated.

I had boldly responded to SBS’s call for people with menopause stories, sending an article I wrote on the subject. I confidently spoke like a news anchor during the phone interview, then when invited to be a guest I spent three weeks incoherently repeating in my head ‘stay in your lane’.

‘Stay in your lane’—a phrase designed to suppress someone’s opinion, a ‘mind your own business’ if you will. A put down. My inner voice was taking great delight in gaslighting me, planting seeds of doubt faster than a market gardener. I was terrified I’d make a complete fool of myself, or worse, draw ire.

I thought Dolly would help but the more I listened the more Dolly would not give opinions, always maintaining she is an entertainer and doesn’t want to offend any of her fans.

Here are some examples of Dolly’s neutrality:

  • Homosexuality: Everybody should just love everybody else*.
  • Religion: Describes herself as spiritual but not religious, (*see above).
  • Feminism: Wrote the song 9-to-5 and starred in the movie of the same name, but makes it clear she loves men (*see above).
  • Politics: When presenting an award in 2017 with her 9-to-5 co-stars, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin were vocal in their dislike of the President but Dolly switched the narrative to what she supports—her enormous breasts; a comic-relief strategy she has used her whole career.

What would Dolly have me say when Janice Peterson asks me if I feel the health system has let women down during menopause?

“Well Janice, I believe in having a health system and that everybody should just love everybody else—here look at my large hands.” 

I had to put Dolly on pause as it was uncomfortable sitting on so many fences. I needed expert help and, lucky for me, Cath McGrath of Catherine McGrath Media is my neighbour.

When I contacted her sounding like Eliza in My Fair Lady, she put me through an hour of commando-like instruction, drumming into me two things: I must determine my call to action; what is my point?

And, when asked a question be prepared to spill; allowing that answer to be as voluptuous as Dolly’s knockers.

Still, the word ‘imposter’ kept gnawing away at me overriding the likability of the Dollylama and the sage advice of Commander Cath.

I scurried for a podcast to accompany my road-trip to my impending doom, and—I still can’t believe it—Clare Bowditch’s ‘Tame Your Inner Critic’ popped up as a new release.

For every argument I had as to why I should turn the car around, Clare had a counterargument that kept me moving forward.

The show went fine, I was fine, there was no fracture in the time/space continuum, and I’ve had some lovely responses.

I now have clarity and a deep-seated respect for Dolly Parton, because I’ve come to realise Dolly Parton does not stay in her lane.

Dolly is proof you don’t have to be polarised to any extreme to make your point, and this is evident by the diversity of audience she draws to her performances. At a Dolly concert, you are likely to see a fundamentalist Christian singing alongside a Drag Queen. Dolly Parton is a badass of unity.

By the end of Dolly Parton’s America, I felt certain Dolly’s ‘lane’ is to unite all races, religions, sexualities and political persuasions through her music. Her opinions are buried deep in her lyrics, and the persuasive power she yields is the subject of a history honours course at the University of Tennessee.

So, what did Dolly teach me about staying in my lane? That I don’t have to have a PhD to have an opinion, nor an extreme view to speak up. It comes down to intent; are you seeking to be arrogant and divisive; or do you want to be like Dolly (*see above)?

  • Listen to Dolly Parton’s American here
  • Listen to Clare Bowditch’s Tame Your Inner Critic here
  • Watch Jo on SBS Insight here

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

© 2022 HerCanberra. All rights reserved. Legal.
Site by Coordinate.