Comic book lovers have the San Diego’s Comic-Con. And for the makeup- and fashion-obsessed fiend comes Beautycon, a Los Angeles-based annual beauty convention, which cultivated quite the internet following by attracting beauty influencers from YouTube and the big screen. Beautycon’s most recent guest, Priyanka Chopra, ignited an uproar last weekend at her panel when the discussion took a political turn.
Chopra, an Indian actress most known for her lead role as Alex Parrish in TV series “Quantico,” made headlines after a Pakistani American Beautycon attendee, Ayesha Omar, confronted her for her controversial history on Twitter, which encouraging nuclear war between India and Pakistan.
On February 26, 2019, Chopra tweeted out “Jai Hind #IndianArmedForces,” which roughly translates to “Long Live India.”
Jai Hind #IndianArmedForces 🇮🇳 🙏🏽
— PRIYANKA (@priyankachopra) February 26, 2019
At the time the actress tweeted, India’s military was actively increasing tensions with neighboring Pakistan. The long-standing conflict between the two countries was only further complicated in February when India launched airstrikes on Pakistani territory.
The contention toward Chopra stems from the actress’s responsibility as a United Nations Goodwill Peace Ambassador, noting that her support of nuclear war is hypocritical to her honorary position.
Chopra defended her earlier tweet, insisting that “war is not something that [she] is very fond of, but [she] is patriotic.”
Though her defense and initial tweet were divisive to begin with, Chopra further attracted criticism through the rhetoric she adopted in responding to Omar.
Referring to the tweet in question, Omar questioned the actress on her stance. “You are a UNICEF [United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund] ambassador for peace,” she said, “and you’re encouraging nuclear war against Pakistan. There’s no winner in this.”
Security promptly snatched the microphone out of Omar’s hands before Chopra could hear her conclusion, but video footage from the event reveals Omar’s final remarks: “As a Pakistani, millions of people like me have supported you in your business of Bollywood, and you wanted nuclear war.”
Chopra gave an arguably demeaning response. “I hear you, whenever you’re done venting,” she said, and then quickly began to defend her beliefs, explaining that she was patriotic. She claimed that the tweet she had sent out reflected her principles just as unpopular stances on other divisive issues may also echo other people’s principles.
To top off the shocking exchange between the two, Chopra spoke down upon Omar, saying, “Don’t yell. Don’t embarrass yourself. But we all walk that middle ground but thank you for your enthusiasm and your question and your voice.”
Debatably, Omar might have adopted an accusatory tone in questioning Chopra’s intentions with the tweet, forcing the actress into a defensive position. Nevertheless, considering Chopra is an ambassador for the United Nations, one of the most respected international organizations, her response should have held similar dignity for which her position entails.
Chopra’s history with her nationalism was initially questionable to her supporters, but after her curt response to the confrontation at Beautycon, Chopra’s status and opinion seemingly shook the Internet to its core. Consequently, she lost 3 million Twitter followers.
Her handling of the situation further enraged social media users, and they decided to fight against her UNICEF appointment. A petition was created, addressed to the United Nations, that requested the repeal of her title as a Global Peace Ambassador. The petition has a goal of 150,000 signatures, and so far, has collected near 130,000 through Twitter alone. The United Nation has yet to respond to the recent criticism.
Chopra’s platform puts her in a position of increased responsibility compared to a non-celebrity figure. When one considers the situation through a different perspective, her defense of her patriotism at Beautycon would not induce such outrage if she was not a prominent figure.
However, not only is she an actress and globally admired individual, but she also has big shoes to fill through her diplomatic responsibilities as a United Nations Global Peace Ambassador.
Furthermore, Chopra was on the defensive because, frankly, she was being confronted in a way and at a place she did not expect. Nevertheless, the actress should have taken her title of being a peace ambassador into consideration and approached the situation as such.
Instead of dismissing Omar’s accusations in a demeaning manner, the Indian actress could have acknowledged the woman’s opinion and worth, then perhaps allocated a more intimate time and place in which the two could exchange thoughts through a civil conversation.
Chopra’s decision to not only talk down to Omar like she was child but to also attempt to publicly embarrass the woman to make herself appear more dignified was immature.
Yet, the actress’ reaction, though not ideal, is understandable. She clearly was not prepared to defend her Twitter history and seemed to think her tweet would not affect anyone in the way it did. Hopefully, she can look back on her Beautycon controversy and carve a path to redemption.
Though she has immense responsibilities and highly esteemed positions, Chopra is still human. She makes mistakes, just as anyone. But she can also learn from those mistakes, just as anyone. It is up to her to choose to go forth and listen respectfully to all opinions, even if they may contradict her own beliefs. The ball is in Chopra’s court; she just has to decide what her next move is as a leader of goodwill and peace.