Priyanka Chopra Remembers Being Bullied in High School Over Her Skin Color

“It really affected me when I was a kid and affected my self-esteem.”

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Thanks to her role in Quantico and her 40 million (and counting) followers on Instagram, Priyanka Chopra is a global star. But back when she was just a regular high school kid, she dealt with bullying and racism. The actress and newlywed recently opened up about it, sharing her experience as a young student in the United States.

“I was treated differently because I’m brown,” she told the Associated Press, reflecting on her time in school in Massachusetts, Iowa, and New York. “I had, you know, really racist behavior when I was in high school in 10th grade. I was called ‘Brownie,’ ‘Curry,’ [told to] ‘go back on the elephant you came on,’ and that really affected me when I was a kid and affected my self-esteem.”

This isn’t the first time Chopra has opened up about the bullying and racism she experienced due to her skin color. Back in 2017, she told Glamour, “A lot of girls who have a darker skin hear things like, ‘Oh, poor thing, she’s dark. Poor thing, it’ll be hard for her.’ In India they advertise skin-lightening creams: ‘Your skin’s gonna get lighter in a week.’ I used it [when I was very young]. Then when I was an actor, around my early twenties, I did a commercial for a skin-lightening cream. I was playing that girl with insecurities. And when I saw it, I was like, ‘Oh shit. What did I do?’ And I started talking about being proud of the way I looked. I actually really like my skin tone.”

Chopra has also shared before that because of events like these she wasn’t able to maximize her self-confidence until she made a conscious decision to do so. “I got up one day and said, ‘Enough,’” she told New You. “The color of my skin, the hair I have — there are so many things about me that may not be conventional. But as soon as I chose to own it and walk out the door wearing confidence, people looked at me differently.”

These days, Chopra is focused on sharing the wisdom she’s gleaned with others who need it. “The more we can talk about it and open other people’s eyes and say ‘it doesn’t have to be that way’ and give them more examples, I guess society will change,” she told the Associated Press. “I do want to create a world where my future kids don’t have to think about diversity, where they’re not talking about it because it’s normal.”