Aside from being an iconic superstar, one of the greatest songwriters of all time, and an inspiration to millions, Dolly Parton has also been out here helping save the world for decades with years of quiet philanthropic work and advocacy.
And she credits it all to her decision to never have children.
In a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey for her Apple TV+ show The Oprah Conversation, Parton opened up about the sacrifices she's made along the way and how they helped her do and be everything she's become beloved for.
. @DollyParton opens up to @Oprah about how not having children of her own contributed to her starting the Imaginat… https://t.co/Hy8WYNOb6N— Imagination Library (@Imagination Library)1605192930.0
But rather than express regrets about the things in life she's had to forgo--especially those society most expects of women--Parton expressed gratitude for the freedom she gained by avoiding motherhood.
"Since I had no kids, and my husband was pretty independent, I had freedom. So I think a big part of my whole success is the fact that I was free to work."
And when it comes to forgoing children, Parton made clear that it was a conscious choice--and one key to her charity work in particular.
"I didn't have children because I believed that God didn't mean for me to have kids so everybody's kids could be mine, so I could do things like [children's book charity] Imagination Library because if I hadn't had the freedom to work, I wouldn't have done all the things I've done.
"I wouldn't be in a position to do all of the things I'm doing now."
Parton's charitable organization Imagination Library sends free books to children from birth until they enter school, and has been credited with improving literacy rates among needy children.
Parton's "no regrets" framing of her never having become a mother as a conscious choice is, of course, markedly different from the usual discourse around women's roles and the importance of motherhood.
And on Twitter, people definitely noticed, and had nothing but applause for Parton.
There's an idea in Judaism that there are 36 special people in the world at all times who secretly maintain the wor… https://t.co/B8hsHWgoTY— Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg (@Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg)1605660177.0
Amen, Dolly! From a happy child-free woman. https://t.co/qrfEEStaAN— Rainbow Tits McGee (@Rainbow Tits McGee)1605410975.0
As a pediatrician, Dolly stan, and human person I can’t express how full my heart is thinking about Dolly’s Imagina… https://t.co/6zUunm0zEc— Ty Spradley (@Ty Spradley)1605569580.0
If you're feeling down today, remember that Dolly Parton sees you as her child ✨ https://t.co/oEoK6RMXVB— Marie (@Marie)1605470582.0
I just watched the @Oprah interview with Dolly Parton on @AppleTV. It was so insightful and inspiring. Dolly is tru… https://t.co/tFr9P090bC— BrassyBroadJen (@BrassyBroadJen)1605459590.0
@ABC There’s so much meaning in so few words.— HeCallMeGarfield (@HeCallMeGarfield)1605614427.0
@Independent Love Dolly. The book club is fantastic. She was close to tears once on One Show when children where… https://t.co/OpZXWf3O3s— col fox (@col fox)1605643012.0
@TheRaDR Dolly is a national treasure and deserves the presidential medal of freedom.— Anne Carroll (@Anne Carroll)1605662118.0
Is there a greater American than Dolly Parton? Our lines are open but...I think not. https://t.co/skl5kaGPrT— Charles P. Pierce (@Charles P. Pierce)1605675120.0
Dolly Parton has done more for humanity than we will ever give her credit for— rachel syme (@rachel syme)1605720175.0
More of Dolly Parton's benevolent acts: -sent 100 million+ books to children worldwide -raised $9 million for Gr… https://t.co/bWyhNX5SuM— Jarett Wieselman (@Jarett Wieselman)1605627755.0
It's worth noting that while she's been busy giving free books to children and subverting sexist expectations about motherhood, Parton also partially funded one of the forthcoming vaccines for the virus. It's time to start asking if there is anything Dolly Parton can't do!