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Priyanka Chopra Wants You To Know That Pageants Can Be Empowering

“I feel like in an evolved world, where we are today, as long as a woman understands that that's not [her] only option. And then chooses to do it. Who is anyone to judge her?”

This is the gorgeous Priyanka Chopra, up close and wonderfully up in your space, donning only moisturizer and lip gloss for the cover of Allure. Before she became a Bollywood star and kicked ass on the ABC series Quantico, Priyanka was crowned Miss India and Miss World in 2000 — at age 18, no big deal — and has a few important insights about the pageant world that propelled her towards worldwide fame.

Daniel Jackson for Allure

Contrary to conventional stereotypes and criticisms associated with pageants, Priyanka's experience went beyond a focus on physical appearances. The India- and UK-based competitions put an emphasis on young women who were "fun, outgoing, progressive, [and] bold."

Instagram: @priyankachopra

Pageants should amplify contestants' feelings of confidence and self-worth, which is then showcased to the world and hopefully changes individual and collective mindsets on beauty standards. TLDR; we don't need unrealistic standards for how women should look or present themselves.

P.S. The photo on the right was taken when Priyanka was 17 — her mom later submitted photos to the Miss India competition without her knowledge, and the rest is history!

Pageants are evolving — slowly, but surely — and that change is being recognized. Miss America, for instance, underwent a recent (and long-overdue) elimination of their swimsuit competition.

Gretchen Carlson, who is the current chair of the board of trustees for the Miss America Organization and was named Miss America in 1989, announced on Good Morning America, “We will no longer judge candidates on their outward physical appearance.” The evening gown section has also been updated so contestants can wear whatever makes them feel most comfortable, rather than limiting outfits to the scope of traditional eveningwear.
Donald Kravitz / Stringer

Gretchen Carlson, who is the current chair of the board of trustees for the Miss America Organization and was named Miss America in 1989, announced on Good Morning America, “We will no longer judge candidates on their outward physical appearance.”

The evening gown section has also been updated so contestants can wear whatever makes them feel most comfortable, rather than limiting outfits to the scope of traditional eveningwear.

Though Priyanka's pageant wins initially got her offers in film and television, they eventually became the driving point for her involvement as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and with female-empowering causes like the Girl Up United Nations Foundation.

Instagram: @priyankachopra

As someone who's been all around the world, Priyanka gives her own spin on a familiar saying: "Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. And everyone doesn't look the same way, so the world needs to be trained to see beauty differently.”

Priyanka's opinion about pageants today is that women know they can choose to do anything, and not have to depend on their looks, or "be OK with being objectified or being made to feel stupid" to succeed.

She goes on to say: “I feel like in an evolved world, where we are today, as long as a woman understands that [pageants are] not [her] only option. And then chooses to do it. Who is anyone to judge her?" As with Priyanka, Oprah, Vanessa Williams, and Diane Sawyer, pageants can be a legitimate stepping stone for women to make their voices heard.Priyanka's first dream was to be an engineer — and the thing to take away from that is both paths (entertainment vs. engineer) are equally awesome, attainable, valid, and necessary.
Daniel Jackson for Allure

She goes on to say: “I feel like in an evolved world, where we are today, as long as a woman understands that [pageants are] not [her] only option. And then chooses to do it. Who is anyone to judge her?" As with Priyanka, Oprah, Vanessa Williams, and Diane Sawyer, pageants can be a legitimate stepping stone for women to make their voices heard.

Priyanka's first dream was to be an engineer — and the thing to take away from that is both paths (entertainment vs. engineer) are equally awesome, attainable, valid, and necessary.

Whether it's pageants and big stages or something else, finding success and confidence simply boils down to "whatever you need to be fabulous."

Daniel Jackson for Allure

If it's not evident that pageant contestants never deserve to be labeled or boxed in, the average (and not-so-average) woman does not either. Priyanka confidently declares, “It's the mindset that needs to change, of society, of men, of people — that view where a woman in a plus size should not be a check in the box. Or a woman of color should not be a check in the box. Or a woman shouldn't be a check in the box.”

There shouldn't be "congratulations" in order every time public-facing industries include the diversity we already see every day out in the world — and that includes pageants, even Miss World.
Nicholas Hunt / Getty Images

There shouldn't be "congratulations" in order every time public-facing industries include the diversity we already see every day out in the world — and that includes pageants, even Miss World.

Keep slaying and inspiring, Priyanka!

Allure / Via youtube.com

Be sure to read the full story on Allure!

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