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Priyanka Chopra’s Condé Nast cover sparks important conversation


The actress’s new travel magazine cover has become a topic of debate on Twitter.

Suparna Thombare

Priyanka Chopra looks fabulous on the cover of Condé Nast Traveller this month. But that's not the only thing Twitter is going crazy about. Chopra wears a white tank top on which three words – refugee, immigrant and outsider – are struck out, leaving just the word traveller. The message on the top has confused a lot of people and led to several different interpretations and polarised views.

The slug for the magazine's cover says: "Agent of Change Priyanka Chopra: Building bridges, not walls. PC on US politics and film." This offered us a hint of what the top was trying to say – refugees, immigrants and outsiders should not be discriminated against, should not be labelled, and must simply be considered travellers.

Obviously, Chopra and the magazine set out to make a positive statement on the perception of people from different parts of the world, and many understood the intention. But the cover also invited the ire of those who felt that bringing refugees into the conversation was inappropriate since the world is in the middle of a huge refugee crisis with millions of people being displaced from their homes.

"I understand that Priyanka may have tried to highlight the constant stereotypes we brown people face. Trust me, I of all the people understand, but as a high-powered actor, drawing parallels between yourself and a refugee isn't the way to go about it," said an article in Dawn.

"Priyanka stands tall for human rights for refugees, immigrants, all the world's displaced. How can people get the shirt message so twisted? She is crossing off harmful labelling that denigrates people because of their circumstance. Priyanka is a wonderful human being as well as performer! Truth," said a reader, reacting to the article.

Many felt that Chopra comparing herself to refugees was insensitive.

Some were just confused. 

While we await a reaction from the magazine or Chopra to the controversy, what this tank top has succeeded in doing is spark a debate on an important issue, and that can only be a positive thing. How people are treated as refugees and immigrants, and how striking off these boundaries and labels is important, is something we need to discuss. And it is commendable that Chopra is never afraid of speaking out on relevant issues and making important statements. Perhaps using the word global citizen instead of traveller could have created fewer misunderstandings.