Dalai Lama says a female successor would have to be 'attractive'

The Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama. Photo credit: Getty

The Dalai Lama says if he has a female successor, she better be better looking than he is.

The 83-year-old spiritual leader of the Tibetan Buddhist religion made the comment during an interview with the BBC.

"If [a] female Dalai Lama comes then she should be more attractive," he told south Asia correspondent Rajini Vaidyanathan.

He pulled a face, adding that"people I think prefer not see her, that face".

Vaidyanathan asked him if it was supposed to be "about who you are inside", and the Dalai Lama agreed - kind of.

"Real beauty is inner beauty, that's true. But we're human beings. I think the appearance is also important."

The comments prompted outrage online, with feminist website Jezebel saying the Dalai Lama "doesn’t think there's much use for an unf**kable woman" and others calling him "cancelled". One professor went so far to call for his Nobel Prize to be stripped.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the remarks is that it's not the first time he's made them. In 2015 he told the BBC an unattractive female Dalai Lama would be "not much use".

There has never been a female Dalai Lama. In 2007 the current one said he was open to the idea, but also proposed holding a referendum on whether there should even be another Dalai Lama.

Traditionally, after the Dalai Lama dies a panel of monks anoint a successor - a person born after the Dalai Lama's death, considered his reincarnation. 

It took four years to find the present Dalai Lama.