Priyanka Chopra’s memoir Unfinished came out today, and the actress reflects candidly on her two decades in the spotlight. One topic she doesn’t shy away from addressing is the impact of a nose surgery gone wrong—on the way she saw herself, and the way the Indian press and Bollywood treated her.
Chopra won Miss World in 2000 and needed to have a polyp surgically removed from her nasal cavity less than a year later. The doctor accidentally shaved the bridge of her nose, according to Entertainment Tonight, which caused it to collapse. Chopra felt “horrified,” she wrote. “I felt devastated and hopeless. Every time I looked in the mirror, a stranger looked back at me, and I didn’t think my sense of self or my self-esteem would ever recover from the blow.” The press called her “Plastic Chopra.”
Unfinished: A Memoir
“I was dared to give an explanation for the obviously different nose, but I chose a course then that I’ve followed in all the years since,” Chopra reflects. “I decided that there was a line I was going to draw in my life. I am an entertainer. That’s what I’ve signed on to do, and that’s what I love doing. I will say my lines, dance my dance, hit my mark. I’ll do my best to make you laugh, and I’ll do my best to make you cry, but just because I’m a public person doesn’t mean everything about my life has to be public knowledge. I get to choose what I share and when I share it.”
According to ET, Chopra’s career suffered following the procedure. She was dropped from two films she had signed on to make—what would have been her first projects. Her first full-length film was ultimately 2002’s Thamizhan.
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The Independent also ran a passage from Chopra’s memoir where she reveals the advice a filmmaker gave her: to get extensive plastic surgery so she could be successful in the industry.
Chopra writes: “After a few minutes of small talk, the director/producer told me to stand up and twirl for him. I did. He stared at me long and hard, assessing me, and then suggested that I get a boob job, fix my jaw, and add a little more cushioning to my butt. If I wanted to be an actress, he said, I’d need to have my proportions ‘fixed,’ and he knew a great doctor in L.A. he could send me to. My then-manager voiced his agreement with the assessment.” Chopra left her manager soon after.
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Chopra adds, per Entertainment Tonight, “All the talk of body parts and skin tone collectively made me feel devalued and unseen and uncertain about my future. Having experienced the aftermath of a supposedly simple polyp removal, I knew I wasn’t willing to follow the course he’d laid out for me, even if he, as the highly successful expert, was right.”
“My difference is my strength,” she continues. “If I looked like other ‘classically beautiful’ girls, then I wouldn’t stand out, and more important, I wouldn’t be me.”
Chopra did have some procedures done: “several corrective surgeries,” she writes. She has since made peace with how her appearance has changed. “Now when I look in the mirror, I am no longer surprised; I’ve made peace with this slightly different me,” she wrote. “…I’m just like everyone else: I look at myself in the mirror and think maybe I can lose a little weight; I think maybe I can work out a little more. But I’m also content. This is my face. This is my body. I might be flawed, but I am me.”
News and Strategy Editor Alyssa Bailey is the news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton).
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