India Debates Priyanka Chopra Magazine Cover

Reading between the tank top lines.

The October/November issue of the India edition of Condé Nast Traveller was teased online Friday and the cover, featuring Quantico actress Priyanka Chopra, has sparked some heated discussion in that country.


At issue is the message inscribed on Chopra’s tank top. For some, the sequence of crossed-out words trivializes the plight of the world’s refugees. For a small number of others, the message has racist overtones.

That’s carrying the social media outrage a bit far. Another way to read the shirt, entirely, is that it represents one person’s empowered personal progression. Also, the tank top, designed by V Sunil, was almost certainly provided by stylist Cristina Ehrlich for the shoot at JW Marriott Essex House.

Chopra met for the cover piece in New York with Indian writer Suketu Mehta. From their conversation:

Do you still think America is as open a country, even in the age of Trump? Are you a Hillary supporter?

I’ve always been apolitical. I’m Indian, and I don’t have a dog in this fight. I do have opinions, though, definitely.

The issue will be on newsstands this week.

Update (Oct. 11):
Condé Nast Traveller India has issued an official response to the uproar over the cover. The statement reads, in part:

It’s time we demand better, and stand against the building of walls, literal and otherwise. We must demand a world free of racism and bigotry and prejudice, so that we—and generations after us—may enjoy all the abundance that travel offers, the beauty of a world that is open and rich and diverse in its people and cultures and geographies. And we must, in the midst of our many differences, find and celebrate our commonalities, our oneness. We must recognise that we are all on a journey. Whether we are moving across oceans or just a few kilometres, or in our mind’s eye, into a completely different world, whether we are doing so due to free will or circumstance—we are all travellers.

Update (Oct. 18):
Chopra has personally apologized, telling NDTV:

“I’m really apologetic about sentiments being hurt. I have always been against labels. I am very affected and feel really horrible, but the message has been misconstrued. The magazine was very clear that they wanted to send a message about addressing xenophobia with labels.”

Cover image via: Condé Nast