Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas have been rumoured to be dating for a while now, and this week, they seem to have made it official. They both put up Insta-stories of each other with the same ‘heart-eyes’ emoji, they went out to dinner wearing matching rings, and as of this week where they’ve been in Mumbai, they’ve both met each other’s families.
The whole thing is very sweet, romantic and completely in line with any other celebrity couple still in the honeymoon stage of their relationship. But the internet has not reacted in the way they would to a typical Hollywood romance. Instead, Priyanka and Nick are being trolled two-fold: for their different skin colours and backgrounds, and for their 10-year age gap.
In a depressingly predictable turn of events, people are writing cruel and racist comments on Twitter. 'He needs someone hot,' wrote one. 'She’s just plain poppadom ugly without make-up.' Another wrote: 'Priyanka Chopra is an Islamist terrorist agent and a traitor and the biggest gold digger on earth.'
Some of the comments even came from Indians themselves, with one writing: 'Expecting a chocolate baby soon' followed by a bunch of crying-with-laughter emoji. Another said: 'Of late Hindu girls seem to develop penchant for love for outsiders. What a fashion or what?'
These kinds of comments are a sad reminder that interracial relationships are still seen as undesirable and controversial in 2018. Even Prince Harry and Meghan were subjected to trolling and cruel comments about their different skin colours. Before their engagement was even announced, he was forced to release a statement saying that Meghan 'has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public - the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.' He added that he felt unable to protect her - something that Nick could very well be feeling now.
But, Priyanka and Nick also have an added layer of taboo to their relationship: the age gap. While Nick is 25, Priyanka is 35. As age gaps go, it isn’t that shocking. If Nick had been 35, and Priyanka 25, no one would care. The problem is that it’s an older woman with a younger man - and both ‘white Twitter’ and ‘desi Twitter’ are struggling to get over this.
'She’s too old! It’s Demi and Ashton all over again,' wrote one white woman, while another said: 'She looks old enough to be his mother. Not hating. Just want the best for our Nick.' In India, there has been even more criticism of the age gap because it’s perceived as more unusual - even though one of the hottest Bollywood couples right now consists of male star Ranbir Kapoor, 35, and actress Alia Bhatt, 25.
'Priyanka Chopra is dating a kid boy half her age shamelessly,' wrote a man on Twitter who calls himself a ‘proud Indian.’ 'She is such a joker. She thinks that she looks smart with that kid. If she were married at 20, her own son would be of that kid guy's age.'
Even an official Nick Jonas fan page on Twitter got involved, with a doubtful tweet saying: 'Call me crazy, but if Nick Jonas is happy with Priyanka Chopra, I'm the happiest fan alive. I mean, he's happy, he's smiling.. and that's the most important thing. Isn't it? It doesn’t matter who is the reason for his happiness.'
Well actually, it does. The reason for his happiness is a 35-year-old Indian woman, and that shouldn’t be something that needs to justified or diluted. The shameless behaviour here isn’t what Priyanka’s doing, but the fact that so many people are judging her for not dating an Indian man her own age. And of course, all the hate is directed straight at her - the ethnic woman - rather than Nick, the white man. The whole outcry is both sexist and racist.
But, there is a positive to it all. Like all taboos that are broken - even if they’re only being broken by a handful of people - it is inspiring a new generation. “If Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra get married in 2019 no one can stop me from marrying a white girl,” wrote one young Indian guy, while an Indian girl wrote: “Hearing Indian aunties talk about Priyanka Chopra introducing Nick Jonas to her parents, are two worlds I never thought would collide.”
This is what we need to focus on. While Priyanka and Nick are unfortunately receiving huge amounts of hate and negativity just for being together, they’re also showing people across the world that age and ethnicity shouldn’t ever be barriers for relationships. Simply by dating and posting cute pictures of each other on Insta, they’re proving to all the outdated racist, sexist people out there that they don’t care. They’re happy together, and quite frankly, that’s the only thing that matters