Reba McEntire Recalls the Time She Told Off a Stylist

Reba McEntire Says She Hit Back at Stylists Who Wanted to Change Her Look: ‘Make Me Look Like Me’ (Exclusive)

The 69-year-old Queen of Country, who’s celebrating Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, says that finding her confidence “was a revelation and a source of freedom”

 Reba McEntire attends Revels & Revelations 11 hosted by Bring Change To Mind in support of teen mental health

Reba McEntire attends Revels & Revelations 11 in New York City on October 09, 2023. Photo:Noam Galai/Getty Images

Reba McEntire is the reigning Queen of Country for a reason.

Since her career took off with the release of her sophomore studio album Out of a Dream in 1979, the 69-year-old singer and actress has stayed true to who she is, both in her artistry and in the way she presents herself. This commitment is what drove McEntire to partner with Dove to celebrate 20 years since the launch of the Campaign for Real Beauty and the brand’s latest initiative, which promises to never use artificial intelligence (AI) to represent real people in advertising.

“I thought it was so important for us to stand up for ourselves and not let a computer take over our looks, our words, our acting, our singing, all that is us,” McEntire tells PEOPLE of working with Dove. “We want us to be used a hundred percent as we always have been, and the AI coming in will change us. And I didn’t appreciate that. Don’t like it, not for it.”

According to a press release from Dove, the brand promises to keep their advertising “free of digital and AI distortion, and unrealistic beauty standards of any kind.”

“We will never use AI imagery in place of real women,” the statement continues. “No digital distortion or AI manipulation: We never present the unachievable, manipulated, flawless images of ‘perfect’ beauty which the use of retouching tools can promote. We never use professional models or celebrities to portray real women in our product ads.”

Despite growing societal pressures, McEntire has never let the glitz and glam of Hollywood influence her. Instantly recognizable by her twangy vocals and copper-colored hair, she continues to embrace her authentic self — though she admits she wasn’t always so confident.

Growing up on a cattle ranch in Oklahoma, McEntire says she was a tomboy who didn’t have any sense of what was trendy, especially because her mother’s beauty regimen was non-existent.

“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,” she recalls. “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.”

At school, McEntire says she wanted to be tan like her classmates, but eventually learned to embrace her fair skin. “It was a learning process of accepting me as I am, which didn’t happen until years later,” she reflects. “And finally getting comfortable in my own skin was a revelation and a source of freedom.”

THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 1830 -- Pictured: Musical guest Reba McEntire performs on May 4, 2000

Reba McEntire performs on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on May 4, 2000.Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty

In her career as a performer, McEntire faced a new challenge — standing firm in who you are in a room full of people who want to change you. The Voice coach recalls being put in a strapless dress for an award show and having to constantly adjust it to keep it from falling down.

“I was so uncomfortable and self-conscious,” she recalls. “I said, ‘OK, from now on, never anything like that again.’”

She continues, “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.’ 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.’”

While McEntire says it used to be “frightening” for her to get dressed up for events, she looked to country music icons like Loretta Lynn, Barbara Mandrell and Dolly Parton for courage and inspiration.

“They’re very strong and they know exactly what they want,” she says. “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.”

Over her 45-year career, McEntire has not only become a role model in her own right but was dubbed “the Queen of Country.” At nearly 70 years old, the singer continues to stun fans with her seemingly ageless appearance. Her secret? Staying hydrated.

“I hydrate inside and out,” she says. “I have to make sure I’m getting a lot of hydration by the water I drink, the drinks I drink, the food I eat. It’s very important to hydrate the inside of your body. I’ve got very dry skin, so I have to be sure to hydrate or I look older than I should. It’s small things like that you have to do on a daily basis to keep your body in good shape.”

Honorees Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton attend the 11th Annual ACM Honors at the Ryman Auditorium on August 23, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton attend the 11th Annual ACM Honors in Nashville, Tennessee on August 23, 2017.Rick Diamond/Getty

As McEntire looks to a future that inevitably includes AI, she remains steadfast in her belief that beauty has no real definition. And her dedication to setting an example for young women comes at a crucial time since according to Dove’s Global Beauty Study, 8 in 10 women (73 percent) feel more pressure to be beautiful now than eight years ago. It also states that 2 in 3 women (63 percent) believe women today are expected to be more physically attractive than their mother’s generation was.

“We have to stand up for ourselves,” she says. “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.”

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