After a year of actually traveling the world as part of her queenly duties, Priyanka returned home with a really bad cold that turned into what she thought was a sinus infection, but was actually a polyp in her nasal cavity. She needed surgery.
The polypectomy sounded routine, but while the surgeon was shaving away the polyp, he accidentally started shaving away the bridge of her nose, which then collapsed.
When the bandages came off, she writes, “My original nose was gone. My face looked completely different. I wasn’t me anymore.”
She continued, “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 experience was very emotional for my whole family—my parents were doctors, after all; how could this have happened?—and to make matters worse, the experience was a public affair.”
One that resulted in the demoralizing nickname “Plastic Chopra.” She was dropped from two of the four films she had signed on for within six months of winning Miss World, one producer “arranging a screen test, or a ‘look’ test, to see what my face would look like blown up on 70mm film to movie-screen size.” Another director moved her from the lead into a supporting role, but assured her she’d still be on the poster.
Instead of explaining exactly what happened, she didn’t dignify any rumors with answers and tried to go about her life, several surgeries ultimately restoring her nose to a more normal-looking state. The face in the mirror, though, is still “a slightly different me,” albeit one she’s made peace with.