I was in high school when I saw Priyanka Chopra’s first film, Aitraaz. And I recently saw her first Hollywood film, Baywatch. And I have to say, it’s been a hell of a journey. Apart from her now refined acting skills and a charm that has everyone hooked, Priyanka Chopra has also spoken about fighting beauty standards from time to time and has voiced them too.
What makes her so relatable to me were instances when Priyanka admitted to low self-esteem issues in her teens. Or even the time she admitted to endorsing a skin lightening cream and regretting it. On her 36th birthday, we celebrate more than her fabulous hair and glowing skin. We want to laud her for all the times she spoke about questioning stereotypes and redefining standards of beauty. Here are 5 times Priyanka Chopra told us, and the world, to rethink how it sees beauty.
From the size of our body to the colour of our skin, there are a lot of stereotypes that we battle every day. And it wasn’t any different for Priyanka. In an interview with a leading international website, she said, “Pressures exist and it’s on us to make those pressures not seem important to girls. I’ve achieved what I’ve achieved and skin colour has nothing to do with it — in fact, it might have been an asset. I like the colour of my skin very much,” she says, adding, “It’s so primitive that people are judged on the basis of the colour of their skin. I mean, it’s skin. We all have it.”
In an interview with an international magazine, she spoke about what it was like to go to a school in Massachusetts. “I attracted a lot of attention. Nobody looked like me in my school. I was skinny with crazy, frizzy hair. It was like Mean Girls,” she said. “There was one girl who was just super evil. She kept calling me Brownie, and saying, ‘Go back to your country, you smell like curry’ – and I didn’t, by the way,” she said.
In an interview with yet another international website in 2017, our very own Desi Girl admitted spoke the biggest beauty stereotype in India: fair skin. In India, they advertise skin-lightening creams: ‘Your skin’s gonna get lighter in a week.’ I used it [when I was very young]. Then, when I was an actor, around my early twenties, I did a commercial for a skin-lightening cream. I was playing that girl with insecurities. And when I saw it, I was like, ‘Oh shit. What did I do?’ And I started talking about being proud of the way I looked. I actually really like my skin tone.”
As a 90s kid growing up in India, I can vouch for this. A trip to the makeup counter would often mean three shades of foundation. The world of beauty is definitely more inclusive now. In an interview with a leading website, she said, “(My skin) is as complicated as I am. When I was growing up, I didn’t see anyone on TV who looked like me. I adored Sarah Michelle Gellar. I wanted to be the Slayer! I’ve been working since I was 17, and initially (beauty) companies didn’t have colours that matched Asian or Indian skin. I definitely have access to products that are specifically for my skin (now). But it happened pretty recently, I think — about 10 years (ago).”
Her least favourite word is “exotic,” she told one of the international websites. “We can call ourselves that. You can’t call us that,” Chopra said, point-blank. “When somebody else calls you exotic, exotic is a box—it’s the stereotype of snake charmers and face jewellery. You’re just that stereotype.”