Why Dolly Parton Wears Long Sleeves All The Time

Dolly Parton mania continues sweeping the world. Parton isn't just one of the all-time great singers and songwriters of country music as well as someone with a completely individual, iconic personal style. The woman who penned "Jolene," "I Will Always Love You," "9 to 5," and many more uses her extensive wealth to fund everything from her Imagination Library – a nonprofit organization that gives free books to children — to research that helped make possible the Moderna vaccine, as reported by CNN. At 75, Parton has been famous for most of her adult life, and the public has never been shy about commenting on Dolly's signature looks: the big blonde wigs, the long polished nails, the giant sparkling jewelry, and the curvaceous figure usually clad in rhinestones and other shiny material. Another less flashy but just as intriguing Dolly trademark is the fact that she's almost always seen wearing long sleeves, and often sports fingerless gloves as well. It's really no one's business what anyone else does with their own bodies, but casual and devoted Dolly fans alike keep wondering why her arms and hands remain out of sight.

One theory is that Parton is actually heavily tattooed and wears the long sleeves to cover her ink. According to Independent, actress, comedian, and occasional candidate for public office Roseanne Barr first discussed Parton's tattoos in a 2011 interview, claiming, "She's got all these awesome tattoos all over her body. ... All pastel, gorgeous bows all over everything."

Dolly Parton says she has more than one tattoo

Dolly Parton didn't speak out about her alleged tattoos for many years, finally addressing the topic in a 2020 interview with People magazine. "I do have some tattoos, that's true," said Parton. "But they're tasteful. I'm not a tattoo girl." She went on to partially confirm Roseanne Barr's description of her tattoos: "Ribbons and bows and butterflies are the things that I have. I was very sick for a while and I had to wear a feeding tube. It left a little indention in my side and I didn't like it because I'm so fair that scars turn purple on me." She further discussed her use of tattoos to cover surgical scars in a 2021 interview with W magazine, explaining "I've had surgeries for different things, and if the scars didn't heal properly, I just gotta put tattoos to take the sting out. I don't have the real heavy, dark tattoos. Mine are all pastel. And I have more than one!" Parton hasn't clarified if and why she keeps the tattoos covered up with long sleeves, but then again, that's entirely her own business.

And what of the fingerless gloves? In a 2019 InStyle article, Parton's long-time creative director Steve Summers seemed to want to quash the tattoo rumors as well as address the gloves, explaining "People always ask why she always wears sleeves — well, she's 73 years old, and she doesn't like her elbows. [They ask] 'what's wrong with her hands?' She's 73, and she doesn't like them! It's a normal woman thing."