Reba McEntire Shares How Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn Became Her ‘Manual’ in Country Music

Reba McEntire might be an icon in every sense of the word, but she got there by looking at other female superstars. The 69-year-old, from very early in her career, looked to artists like Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Barbara Mandrell for how to handle every aspect of her career, including her wardrobe.

“They’re very strong and they know exactly what they want,” McEntire tells People. “Those were my role models. Those were the women that I watched and learned and listened to and watched, learned from. They were my guide. They were my manual.”

McEntire recalls a moment earlier in her career, when she was put in a strapless dress that made her uncomfortable, when she vowed to, from that point on, take control of what she wore and how she looked.

“I was so uncomfortable and self-conscious,” McEntire remembers “I said, ‘Okay, from now on, never anything like that again.’”

“It took me a while to gain that confidence to stand up to a professional stylist, hair and makeup person and say, ‘That’s not me. I don’t like that,'” she continues. “And they’d say, ‘Well, yeah, you just sit here and we’ll make sure you look just right.’ I said, ‘Well, make me look like me.’”


There was nothing in McEntire’s rural childhood, on a ranch in Oklahoma, that hinted at the superstar life she would one day live, complete with fancy clothes, stylists and more.

“My mama was not into hair, makeup, looking a certain way. If she got us four kids dressed and out the door, that was a huge accomplishment,” McEntire shares. “If we got a brush through our hair, that was another big step. Get our teeth brushed, that was another big deal. So the niceties past that was not even a thought. It was just surviving.”

McEntire might not be confident in who she is, and how she looks, but that confidence wasn’t easy for her to achieve. The Country Music Hall of Fame member remembers wishing as a child that she didn’t have the fair skin and red hair that has now become beloved by fans around the world.

“It was a learning process of accepting me as I am, which didn’t happen until years later,” McEntire says. “And finally getting comfortable in my own skin was a revelation and a source of freedom.”

McEntire is extending her confidence to a partnership with Dove, and their Campaign for Real Beauty, vowing to use real women, of all shapes and sizes, without using AI for any of their campaigns.

“We have to stand up for ourselves,” McEntire maintains.. “I love what Dove is doing by letting people be encouraged and be proud of the way they look. We’re all different. That’s not a bad thing. And what’s perfect? Who knows? Who really cares? I don’t really like perfect. Even when I’m singing, when I’m doing recordings, I’d much rather for it to have heart and soul than to be perfect.”

McEntire is currently enjoying her second season as a coach on The Voice, while also reportedly working on new music. Keep track of updates at