The fuss all began with Vogue magazine in the year 1992, at least according to a statement posted on the Dalai Lama's website Tuesday. It offers up the Dalai Lama's "sincere apologies" to anyone who was offended by his recent remarks to a BBC interviewer, in which he said that were his successor to be a female, "she should be more attractive" because otherwise, "people, I think prefer, not see her, that face." Per the statement, "His Holiness genuinely meant no offense. ... For all his long life, His Holiness has opposed the objectification of women. ... His Holiness consistently emphasizes the need for people to connect with each other on a deeper human level, rather than getting caught up in preconceptions based on superficial appearances."
The trouble dates back to when he had been asked to guest-edit an edition of Paris Vogue, the statement explains. While talking to the editor at the time, the Dalai Lama was asked if a woman could be the Dalai Lama in the future. Per the statement, "His Holiness replied, 'Certainly, if that would be more helpful,' adding, as a joke, that she should be attractive. He was at least partially responding to the unfamiliar ambiance of working with a team whose prime focus was the world of high fashion." NBC News reports he repeated the sentiment in 2015, and the BBC interviewer again raised the subject last month. (Read more Dalai Lama stories.)