Actress Priyanka Chopra has long been a champion for women. She openly advocates equal opportunity across genders, and tackles feminist issues head-on. And as of today, the India-born actress will officially be the new face of Pantene's "Strong Is Beautiful" campaign — and it holds more meaning than you may think. "Being a proud feminist helped me come to terms with who I am and what my beauty stands for," Chopra tells Refinery29 exclusively. "For eons, women have been told to look a particular way to please the eye of the other gender, [whereas] I think beauty needs to be about appealing to yourself. In [this new era of politics], beauty needs to be about empowering women. You can say, 'My hair feels beautiful and looks beautiful and I can own that, because it’s about me and how it makes me feel — not about how someone else reacts when they see me.'" It's that same conviction that originally drew Chopra to Pantene. (Last week, it tapped fighter Ronda Rousey for the same campaign.) "Pantene empowers people to be strong. Women have been told for years that if you are strong and outspoken, then you are 'wrong.' Pantene tells you that it’s alright to be strong."
And while some may see beauty as frivolous, Chopra believes there's much more to hair than what you see on the surface. "A lot of our strength in our beauty and confidence comes in our hair," says Chopra. "At least for me, it does. When I’m having a bad hair day, I feel insecure. When I’m having a great hair day, I feel confident. My relationship with my hair is very intimate, and I think that applies for most women." It's refreshing to see Chopra using her platform to advocate for women and help them see their strengths — not to mention, fight for better representation of Indian women in the mainstream beauty space. And judging by other recent celebrity-endorsement announcements (James Charles for CoverGirl, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for Boots No7), we're seeing an exciting, and much-needed, shift in the industry across the board. Come at us, 2017.