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Dolly Parton health: Star's 50Ib weight caused by chronic condition – 'It was an awful'


In addition to her music, the star is also known for her iconic look – a look that is maintained by cosmetic surgery. Her busty nature, long, usually pink acrylic nails, and small stature have become synonymous to her public image, but at the start of her career, Dolly struggled to keep up appearances. It was when her hit-song 9 to 5 was firmly at number one in the charts, and her movie debut in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, made the film a box office hit when the star received a mysterious diagnosis that would impact her whole life.

Although the singer dismissed rumours that she was suffering from stomach cancer back in 2015, more worryingly, the star actually did collapse on stage when suffering from internal bleeding.

After suffering from extreme abdominal pain and bleeding, the star had to undergo two operations in order to avoid internal hemorrhaging.

In order to cope with the concoction of steroids and antibiotics that she was on, the star turned to binge eating with food and alcohol, but this led to unhealthy and rapid weight gain.

Quickly, Dolly gained a whopping 50Ibs to her fragile 5ft frame. This mixture of extreme dieting and binge eating junk food, began a toxic cycle.

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A 2017 book named Dolly on Dolly: Interviews and Encounters with Dolly Parton, recalls this time in Dolly’s life and what she had to say about it at the time.

Dolly admitted: “I was always just a hog, I still am. I’m short and I have a big appetite. I can’t do nothing just a little.

“It’s hard for me to love a little, have sex a little, to eat a little. I like to do everything and I like to do it all the way that I want to do it.”

The star went on to admit that she could devour three pizzas and still craved popcorn, french fries and McDonald’s before starving it all off.


At the height of Dolly’s health fluctuation she could put on 10Ibs in 10 days before adopting a strict diet such as the Atkins or a water diet.

She continued to say: “On top of being medicated, Dietin’ Dolly would go on liquid protein, Scarsdale, Atkins, the water diet, then I’d binge, diet, gain, start all over again.

“Eventually my system wouldn’t work anymore. My body couldn’t hold up under that strain.”

Insisting that a constant and balanced diet would be the best thing for her, doctors urged the star to lose 20Ibs. But for Dolly, this dependence on food became a “sickness”.

She added that “overeating is as much a sickness as drugs or alcohol.”

Something had to give in the star’s life, and it did when Dolly collapsed on stage after ignoring medical advice to cancel her performance in Indianapolis.

Going to hospital for treatment, it was there where Dolly received a surprising diagnosis that was most likely the cause of all her troubles. The star was diagnosed with endometriosis and went on to have a partial hysterectomy – meaning she could no longer conceive.

The NHS explains that endometriosis is a condition where tissue, similar to the lining of the womb, starts to grow in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. It is a long-term condition and can affect women of any age.

Symptoms of endometriosis can vary. Some women are badly affected, while others might not have any noticeable symptoms. The main symptoms of endometriosis are:

  • Pain in your lower tummy or back (pelvic pain) – usually worse during your period
  • Period pain that stops you doing your normal activities
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Pain when peeing or pooing during your period
  • Feeling sick, constipation, diarrhoea, or blood in your pee during your period
  • Difficulty getting pregnant.

Treatments are there to help ease symptoms, and a partial hysterectomy, like Dolly underwent, is quite a drastic form of treatment. Other possible forms of treatment include painkillers or going on hormone medicines and contraceptives.

Dolly has been open about this time in her life and the deep depression she suffered after her procedure. She told Closer: “It was a really bad time. Sometimes God just has to smack you down. He was almost saying, ‘Sit your pretty little a** down because we have to deal with some stuff!’

“It was an awful time for me. Every day I thought, ‘I wish I had the nerve to kill myself.’”

For anyone who is having suicidal thoughts, help is available via the Samaritans. They can be contacted 24 hours a day on 116 123, or you can text SHOUT to 85258.

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