In discussion with Padma Lakshmi
Today we are celebrating Padma Lakshmi in our #galvanizeyourworld series. Host and Executive Producer of Top Chef, author, ACLU Ambassador for Immigration & Women’s Rights and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador; Padma is an inspiration for all of us. Born in New Delhi, and settled in New-York, the charismatic natural beauty has a refreshing sincerity and authenticity. Padma talks about her philanthropic work, her career and personal style.
How did you start your career ?
I began modelling when I was studying abroad in Spain, and then I spent most of my twenties in Europe modelling and acting. Then, I moved back to America when I published my first cookbook and I was in a few films, but I started doing hosting and the rest is just about food.
What’s a cause that is important to you ?
The biggest common denominator in the cause or causes that I’m attracted to are ones that level the playing fields, either through women’s reproductive health like endometriosis with the endometriosis foundation of America, so that women have an equal chance of doing well because they are not stymied by chronic pain and other symptoms. Or, the ACLU, working with them, so that everyone has access to a good legal council, that everyone’s rights are respected, not just those lucky few who can afford to have a good representation. And the same thing with the UN, I think a lot of economic development in the third world and even in the first world has to do with gender norms and cultural values and so if you can help change them or help even the playing fields then economic development is possible.
Most rewarding aspect of your work ?
The most rewarding aspect of my work is when I feel like I'm doing something useful with my life and with all of the luck and privilege that I'm able to have frankly. I know very deeply that it could have been me and my mother separated at that border; because our story is from India but it is pretty much the same, it could have been me that couldn’t afford a great lawyer and in some situation it was me, I had endometriosis for 23 years. So me doing something for other people, to level the playing fields for them, that is the coolest thing about my work.
What inspires your style ?
Honestly the thing that now inspires my style is comfort and quickness. I don’t want to think about getting ready. I love a dress cut on a bias because it’s pretty much like wearing a nightgown and it suits me. I’ve gotten curvier as the years have gone by and I just love simple classic things. Most of the time my style is haphazard because my life is haphazard.
What are the three things you can’t live without?
My daughter, my books and the rest of my family.
Jumpsuit or dress?
I would have said dress but honestly for a long time now I’d rather wear a jumpsuit.
What has motherhood taught you?
I think the biggest thing motherhood has taught me is humility and also to have a new perspective on things. I think now I don’t sweat the small stuff like I did because there's so much more that’s important and much more important to worry about so I let the little things go, I don’t care. I think the best thing about motherhood is that it has clarified my perspectives and my priorities very quickly.
What’s your ultimate styling advice?
My ultimate styling advice is to feel good in your clothes and to wear the right size. Don’t wear what everyone else is wearing, wear what makes you feel good because when I’m wearing a dress in a way that I feel comfortable, I can move, I feel sexy but not exposed, then I actually speak better, I’m more relaxed, I don’t fidget and I’m comfortable. So, whatever makes you comfortable, both emotionally and physically.
What’s your mantra?
I don’t have a mantra.
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