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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

I am proud of my body : Padma Lakshmi

'I am proud of my body'

The image “http://specials.rediff.com/movies/2007/dec/12sd1.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.I was the first Indian model to have a career in Paris, Milan and New York,' Padma Lakshmi has said often. 'I am the first one to admit I was a novelty.'

Padma -- better known now as a celebrity television host, bestselling cookbook author and aspiring actor -- may not be interested in any more modelling, but much of what she is doing now, including the cookbooks, is connected to her modelling.

For one, while travelling on modelling assignments, she acquired a taste in the cuisines of many countries, including Morocco and Italy. And she began working on her first cookbook Easy Exotic because she rightly suspected there was a market for a smart cookbook by a model. People would want to know what a well-known model eats, she reasoned.

Padma, who has spent most of her 37 years in America, has modelled for Giorgio Armani, Isaac Mizrahi, Herve Leger, Versace, Sonia Rykiel, Valentino and Ralph Lauren; much of her work was lingerie-centric and, for the celebrated photographer Helmet Newton, she offered semi-nude postures.

"All the pictures that have been taken of me are artistic," she asserts. "Even if they were provocative or revealing, I don't think they were vulgar.

"I was brought to believe that the female form is a beautiful thing," she continues. "I think it's not so much what you do but how you do it that matters. I don't think I've done anything that was exploitative.".

The image “http://specials.rediff.com/movies/2007/dec/12sd2.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.She says she has never been embarrassed about her body. "Some of my friends and people in the art world, including women, say they admire my body," she says. "I am proud of my body. Some compare it to the Chola bronzes. And they all wonder how I keep myself so fit."

She will readily say that at times she likes to "eat like a pig," and that she has an enormous weakness for fried food. "I don't care much for sweets," she says. "But I like Karam [Tamil for fried savory snacks]."

She has a glorious figure because she spends hours a week on the treadmill. "In spite of my frequent travels and preoccupation with hundreds of things, I make time to burn off calories," she says.

The image “http://specials.rediff.com/movies/2007/dec/12sd3.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.In Easy Exotic, published eight years ago, she recalled how throughout her adolescence she had been approached by people who wanted to get her to be a model. Her mother Vijaya Lakshmi made one thing clear to her: 'If I was beautiful at 17, I would be beautiful at 21 when I graduated from college.' Vijaya, a single mother, worked as a nurse in America.

Padma was in Spain studying for a semester when she was discovered by a talent agency in a Madrid pub and sent on a modelling assignment. Though she came from a conservative family with roots in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, she had nothing to worry about as far as her mother was concerned. The only advice Vijaya gave her was to think seriously before taking any step.

"Any good parent would tell you that," Padma says. "I have always been able to tell my family about myself; I have never had to lie to them."

The image “http://specials.rediff.com/movies/2007/dec/12sd4.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.A career as an international model gave Padma a flavour of many cultures.

'It also added to my culinary repertoire,' she has written. 'Travelling from city to city has quite a grueling effect on body and spirit. It was during these times that I began to rediscover my skills as a chef. Making recipes from my childhood made me feel less homesick, and controlling my diet through healthier versions of classic recipes kept my waistline in check.'

The image “http://specials.rediff.com/movies/2007/dec/12sd5.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Soon, she was also discovering her curiosity of food very different from the one in Tamil Nadu or what she had eaten in America. Though she had been introduced to American regional food, including Cajun and Mexican cuisines in New York, it was in Morocco and Spain that she began a serious culinary journey.

She was shooting for the Italian Elle in Morocco, her first big editorial shoot, when she learned about Harissa, the fiery chili sauce, and mild couscous dishes. While shooting French lingerie in Bali, she learned how to make a low-calorie fish dish.

She wonders if she would have become a foodie and a food writer if her fashion career had not made her a globetrotter. Even her acting career took off because of her modelling. While living in Milan, the fashion capital of the world, she starred in several Italian films and television series.

"The best part of modelling was travelling and increasing my knowledge of world cultures," she says.


FranciePod said...

If you were really proud of your body, you wouldn't have had silicone implants. I wish it wasn't true, because you are/were so gorgeous! Anyone doubting this, check out the photo's here and compare them to the current Top Chef ads on TV. It is so sad that strong people cave to the media's twisted notion of what sells.

FranciePod said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FranciePod said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FranciePod said...

Look at these pictures and then look at the current ads for Top Chef on TV and please tell me Padma did not go under the knife to artificially enlarge her breasts. She was already gorgeous. Now, sadly, she has caved to the media's twisted notion of what it takes to get higher ratings. So so sad...

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