Dear Dolly

In early March 2020, Dolly Parton shared her desire to be on the cover of Playboy magazine again with “60 Minutes Australia.” This time for her 75th birthday.

I read the brief article and immediately my heart sank. Once again, I see celebrities loosing sight of the impact and choices of continuing to embrace this sexualized culture. My desire was to send the letter below directly to Dolly or someone within her circle of people. However, I have been unsuccessful in getting the email to go through. So I am moving to another platform in hopes of getting this to her and praying for her consideration.

Dear Dolly,

My name is Lyschel and I am a mom to three beautiful daughters, a wife, friend and ministry leader in East Tennessee. I’m writing you because of the recent news about your 75th birthday and your desire to be on the cover of Playboy again.

Can I be honest with you? Woman to woman? Strong woman to strong woman?  This news grieved me so much. As you know, you are OUR celebrity in East Tennessee . OUR person who changes the world for good and uses her platform for spreading love and kindness. You were the first celebrity my girls knew of and recognized. You were known as the nice lady that mailed us books each month through Imagination Library. My daughters were convinced you lived at Dollywood and were disappointed when we did not see you on our visits.  You are a role model for them in the biggest and smallest of ways.

We watched the entire telethon that you hosted after the fires destroyed The Smokey Mountains in 2016, giving us an opportunity to explain to our girls how you use your position as a celebrity to bring life back into a devastated community. We watched your story through the movie Coat of Many Colors so many times. It’s safe to say you are an important lady in our home.

(Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)

In addition to being a mom, I love on women who have faced sexual betrayal in their own stories by their husbands through infidelity, pornography and addiction. I cannot listen to your song “Jolene” without crying. The pain in that song is real and deep. You get it. You understand the betrayal and uncertainty of it. You also know what it feels like to ask the sexualized culture around you to back off for the sake of your marriage. 

Through watching various documentaries about you, I learned that “Jolene” was a real moment for you in your own marriage. I also watched as you began to step out and speak up for women in your various roles such as the one you played in 9 to 5 in 1980, refusing to allow the exploitation of women in the workforce and taking a stand against chauvinism.

Your climb to stardom had to come with so much cost, and your reach for more impact has, no doubt, been honorable.

When I asked a group of female friends what words describe Dolly Parton, I heard: “sassy,” “unstoppable,” “a fighter,” “generous,” “kind,” “joyful,” “truthful,” “an encourager” and “a Joan of Arc of her time.”

So my plea today is please do not become betrayal material for our culture. Please do not become sexual content for men, women and children. Please do not add to the sexualization of our culture and the brokenness of this world when it comes to honoring people for who they are, not for what they look like. 

An article published by the American College of Pediatricians in 2016 discussed the impact of pornography on children and families as this: “Children suffer many negative effects due to modern society’s exposure to and acceptance of pornography. These negative effects include mental disturbance and unrest for the young school age child, including acting out and violent behavior. Because of its harmfulness to children, pornography must never be used as a tool to teach children human sexuality. For older adolescents and young adults, pornography teaches a false narrative regarding human sexuality and how men and women form healthy sexual relationships. This makes it more difficult for young men and women to form authentic, stable relationships. For parents, pornography is divisive resulting in a decreased quality of marriage and increasing the likelihood of divorce and separation which has been well documented to be harmful to children. “

So while it might seem like a punch in the face for the age police to model for the cover of a pornographic magazine at age 75, the implications far outweigh the statement made to the world and your 75 year old self.

I have sat with hundreds of women who are shattered by the impact of pornography and infidelity in their marriage. I have heard of children addicted to material as early as 11 years old because their parents were using the material themselves and they discovered it on their devices or in their home. I have experienced the emotional disconnect and divisiveness of divorce because of sexual addiction. I have prayed with adult daughters of men who were unable to fully love them as God designed because their hearts and minds were not able to emotionally connect with other women without lusting after them, so they avoided relationship with their daughters all together. These women’s lives are left with gaping holes because of emotional abandonment.

So I am speaking up and asking you, please don’t be a part of this epidemic that is destroying our children and families. Your voice and platform is so much more powerful and meaningful than the one you might hold for a minute on the cover of Playboy.

I know that your other platforms speak directly against the things that porn accomplishes. You are a representation of love and hope for so many women and children. Please don’t waver from this incredible platform of female empowerment and return us back to 1978.

Love your E TN fan,

Lyschel Burket 

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