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‘I Feel Beautiful’: Padma Lakshmi Makes Her Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Debut at 52

‘I Feel Beautiful’: Padma Lakshmi Makes Her Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Debut at 52

  • The Indian American author, activist, TV host, Emmy-nominated producer, philanthropist says she’s never felt better about herself.

When Padma Lakshmi was in her 20s, she would’ve killed to be a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. “It’s holy grail,” she told late night talk show host jimmy Kimmel. Since they never called her at the time, she thought “the ship has passed.” 

Fast forward three decades and the 52-year-old Indian American author, activist, TV host, Emmy-nominated producer, philanthropist is now a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, will be featured in the magazine’s prestigious Swimsuit 2023 issue. She “freaked out” listening to the news, and was glad she was “hitting the gym pretty hard” after returning a month ago from shooting “Top Chef,” where she “eats a lot.”

The magazine notes how Lakshmi came to the shoot, “fresh off filming the latest season of “Top Chef,” where she can go up two or three sizes by the end of shooting.” However, “she didn’t let her insecurities drive her decision,” it notes. “I love where I am in my life and know my body is not perfect by any means, but I feel beautiful. I feel like I have a very lucky, fruitful, productive life,” she says. “My thighs may have been leaner, and my boobs were probably slightly higher in earlier parts of my life, but I have never felt better about myself.”

Having made it to the prestigious issue, she wants to use the platform to send a message. “I want everybody to see this pictorial and understand that sometimes a whole new phase that’s even more exciting than anything you’ve ever experienced before can happen well over 40,” she says. “I have never felt better about myself. I hope they see a full woman in all my facets and nuances and some contradictions. I wouldn’t go back to my 20s if you paid me all the money in the world.”

This confidence in herself and her drop dead gorgeous figure is why she made to the cover, SI Swimsuit editor-in-chief MJ Day explains. Explaining reasons to feature Laksmi, SI Swimsuit editor-in-chief MJ Day. “She is here because she feels better than ever both inside and out. At 52, she has curated a life that represents who she authentically is: a powerful, beautiful, brilliant, accomplished woman in her prime. She can make the world look and listen and is here to remind us all that women can be all of these things and feel sexy AF. We will let the photos speak for themselves.”

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Laksmi immigrated to the U.S. from India with her single mom at the age of 4, and grew up in New York and then in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Having begun her career as a model and actress, she is the host and executive producer of the Emmy Award–winning Bravo series “Top Chef,” which is now in its 20th season. 

Additionally, she is the host and executive producer of Hulu’s ‘Taste the Nation,’ which explores the cuisines of various cultures and groups around the United States.” She is author of a best-selling children’s book, “Tomatoes for Neela,” as well as a memoir and multiple cookbooks. She is the co-founder of Endometriosis Foundation of America and was appointed United Nations Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador in 2019.

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