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What Dolly Parton taught me about judgement and self-awareness

I love Dolly Parton. Love love LOVE HER! She is an amazing and magnificent human, a blessing in our world, an incredible artist, and she inspires me to be a better person.
Dolly recently lured me to her Instagram page after her social media montage became a hit – mostly with the boys. But go and check her out on social media. Her truth speaks through every word. You want to see authenticity? Dolly nails it.
Alternatively, check out the podcast Dolly Parton’s America, hosted by Jad Abumrad – thanks for the recommendation Tori Allen!! It’s brilliant and even Steve has enjoyed listening to it. A success at last!
Something else worth watching , if you want to get an insight into this remarkable woman, is her commencement speech at the University of Tennessee in 2009. Beautiful.
Today Dolly is off the charts in popularity. She is well loved by so many and crosses societal boundaries more than any other star in the world today. She’s amazing.

But I didn’t always feel this way. Not at all.

My love affair with Dolly only started when I was about 30. My Boston boss, Chris Nahil, played her new bluegrass album while we were driving to a client meeting. He’s a real music aficionado, so I always respected his choices. And that is when Little Sparrow entered into my soul.

Check it out if you’ve never heard of it

I walked away from that moment confused. Why had I not seen her incredible talent before? Why had I always been so judgemental of her? Oh I could sing along to her hits, like Jolene, but that feeling of love towards her wasn’t there, then. It is now.
Equally, I always enjoyed her movies too. Steel Magnoliasremains an eternal favorite. As does 9 to 5, and of course, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. The movies of my youth.
But my feelings towards her went deeper and I came to realize it was about me, not her. Self-awareness is such a powerful thing. This whole experience with Dolly taught me that if I feel strongly against someone, I need to reflect deeply on the why. Is it them, or is it me?
Obviously, when someone is hateful or revolting to other human beings, to nature or animals, I’m pretty clear on my feelings. But if they are just being themselves, well that’s potentially on me and not them.
In Dolly’s case, I really struggled with the physical side – her embellishments. And we are all aware of them. Mention Dolly in any conversation and at least one person will mention her boobs. Guaranteed. In fact I know some of you will be sniggering right now. It’s always been true when it comes to Dolly. 
 
The beauty of the boob talk for Dolly is how much she makes a joke of it herself. She totally disarms the conversation when it comes up. I admire that tremendously.

Boobs

But boobs were an issue for me. I went from a scrawny kid to a 12-year-old with a DD Cup overnight, and rather quickly, my boobs became a talking point – often in the background, as snide remarks. 
 
I always knew it was happening, and I’ve also heard friends speak of other women’s large boobs in my presence too. Knowing it’s a topic of conversation when people speak about you, is not something I’ve ever enjoyed or appreciated. I just wished it never happened.
As a young teenager, I hated it. Really hated it. I didn’t want boobs in the first place, and I certainly didn’t enjoy the attention – because the truth is, I wasn’t ready for it. Some girls grow up fast and relish being women, some grow up slower. I was definitely on the slower front, but the world around me didn’t honour that, because there was an obvious physical contradiction.
On reflection, I realized I pushed these feelings onto Dolly, because I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to attract thatattention to themselves. From my perspective, it was horrible attention, especially as a 12-year-old with the older men in my life looking at me in ways they never had before.
And that is why I dismissed Dolly for so long. I couldn’t connect with this opposite way of being female. Not at all. She had pride in her femininity and had pride in enhancing it as she did. I just couldn’t understand it. So I judged it. Harshly.
Thinking about it today, in her own way, she was owning her own narrative. She did it for her, and if you look at the commencement speech, you can understand where that inspiration came from. That doesn’t deserve to be judged. Good on her!

It’s me, not her

But this was never something I would do or be proud of, however Dolly was totally fine with it, and therefore, on that day 20 years ago when I listened to Little Sparrow for the first time, I started to dig deep into these feelings and understood it had nothing to do with Dolly and everything to do with me.
I appreciate Dolly so much for this lesson. It has made me reflect on any strong feelings I have towards other people and to understand which part of those feelings is me and not them. Once you realize this truth, it’s amazing what you uncover.
I think we are raised to pass judgement towards our fellow humans a lot, and we are not encouraged enough to reflect on why we feel that way. We judge, but are we right in our judgement? Are our ideas the only right ones? Are our ways of living and being the only acceptable ones?
I mean just look at the performance of JLo and Shakira at the Super Bowl this week – it’s been slut shamed all the way!! And women have been going to town! Come on girls. Let’s build each other up and celebrate all. That’s a much better way.
I know I don’t have all the answers, nor do I live in a way that’s acceptable to everyone, but I know true beauty is very apparent when you have diversity in your life. This is pretty much why everyone is welcome into my life and have been for decades. I love the diversity and complexity of people around me. It is my true joy in life.
All I know is I want to encourage everyone to dig deep whenever we have negative feelings towards another, and if the real reason is something within us, then we can own that and stop deflecting it onto other people. What a difference that would make in the world?

Getting back to boobs

It’s hard being a woman with big boobs and it’s hard knowing they get talked about. Next time you feel these words bubbling up when you’re around a lady with large chesty dumplings, please just reflect on whether it’s a nice thing to say about someone else.
Some women may love it. Some may hate it. But when you strip a person down to one physical part of them, you will often miss how much more they are. I have spent my life working to be more, but sometimes, I know it’s just my boobs that get a mention. I know many other ladies who say the same. Oh you know, that lady with the big tits?!
I wish it wasn’t so. And I hope my sharing here helps people understand what it’s like.
Obviously there are many other physical dimensions talked about – big arses, small boobs, lush lips, etc… and of course the non-sexual ones (although these can be sexual too) like skin color or race, skin disorders (like Vitiligo), disabilities, injuries, and more/ I truly believe that if you diminish someone to one thing, you also can potentially diminish them full stop.
Let’s lift people up, not break them down. Enough of that going on in the world, huh?
And Dolly. Thank you for being an amazing human and I apologize for putting my shit on you. I’m just glad I worked it out, and that it has been a lifelong lesson to always be self-aware of where my own thinking comes from, and to not be judgemental of anyone.
Can anyone else relate to this story – not with Dolly, perhaps someone else? I’d love to know? Or perhaps it’s made you think about your feelings towards another?
Regardless, one day I will get to Dollywood. And Fiona Randall Taskis, you’re still coming with me, right?
Yours, without the bollocks
Andrea
Thank you for reading my ramblings. My brain and heart are a work in progress, always. I’d love a comment if it stirred any thoughts or feelings and of course, please feel free to share it with anyone you know who might be interested or entertained. I sure do appreciate it when you do. If you want to connect, I’m on Twitter here, Instagram here, YouTube here, and Facebook too. I share loads of stuff, not just my own xxxxx

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