Priyanka Chopra is best-known for her role in Baywatch the movie, Quantico (now in its 3rd season), and for being a former Miss World. TBH, I didn’t know much about her until this year’s Met Gala, where she showed up dressed in a super long Ralph Lauren trench coat dress with a very Cruella De Vil collar. It was “critically” well-received as these things go, but I wasn’t into it. “Why is this incredibly gorgeous woman trapped in this terrible dress?” was my inner monologue.
But fast forward several months, and Priyanka Chopra has become far more widely known than as a red carpet mainstay. Yes, she has insanely flawless bone structure, skin, and lips. But she’s also the founder of her Priyanka Chopra Foundation, which improves the health and education of 70 children in India. She donates 10% of her earnings to this charity, which is a really high proportion for anyone in any income bracket. (Most celebrities, I venture to imagine, donate probably well under 0.1%, if they do give at all. Not to mention President Trump’s pledge to give $1 million to Hurricane Harvey victims…0.03% of his wealth, or just 20 Melania’s Dolce & Gabbana coats!).
Chopra has also worked with UNICEF since 2003 and now serves as a Goodwill Ambassador, raising awareness for issues of hunger and poverty for children, especially girls.
Priyanka in Syria
With UN Peace Prize recipient Malala Yousafzai
Her advocacy resonates as particularly genuine because she has been so outspoken about feminism. “Feminism is not about berating or hating men or trying to make sure we’re better than men…Feminism is just saying, ‘Give me the same freedom that men have enjoyed for so many centuries,'” she tells Variety.
Of course, women celebrities tend to get asked a lot of questions about gender equality and politics while men are not asked at all (remember when Jessica Alba clapped back at a sexist interviewer prodding her about work-life balance?). But for Priyanka Chopra, it gets even more complicated because she’s constantly asked to comment on her status as a minority. And while she definitely embraces the chance to give hope and a sense of pride to minority women, she’s resistant to being boxed in as the person who broke the race glass ceiling.
“I know everything is about diversity right now. But I think it should be about humanity…It’s so easy to separate ourselves and become smaller and smaller pieces of humanity,” she says. “I don’t like the phrase ‘woman of color.’ I feel like that puts women in a box. I’m a woman, whether I’m white, Black, brown, green, blue, or pink — whatever. I think we need to start looking beyond that. It would be a big win for women, period.” Chopra says.
Hear hear! As a Korean-American, I also don’t like the phrase “woman of color.” It says that there’s “women,” which means white women, and “women of color,” which is everyone else. It implies that Caucasian is the default, normal mode for women. Being asked to comment on one’s success as a “woman of color” is akin to getting courted *because* of your ethnicity. Like, take the time when one of my friends told me, “guys only like you because you’re Asian.” Or, when a Caucasian guy told me that I’m beautiful and “have sort of Western features.”
Let me tell you, minority women do *not* appreciate any comments on where they stand on the spectrum of “very [insert every cringe-y word here from exotic to ethnic]” to “very white.” How Eurocentric do you have to be? How about just taking us for what we are?
Another point that Priyanka Chopra’s comment brings to light is how women of all backgrounds have to come together under one banner. We’ve all heard by now that 52% of white women voted for Trump. Intra-women conflicts drag us down in face of so many meta-problems in the world right now. The only way we might have a chance at overcoming them is for black, brown, Asian, Latina, white, Native American, Middle Eastern feminists to all just be regular old feminists.
Priyanka Chopra also is a voice for #AdoptDontShop. Pretty much love this lady!
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Photo: Priyanka Chopra via Instagram