In a new interview with The Cut, the author and television star spoke with chef and former Bon Appétit editor Sohla El-Waylly about kitchen memories with daughter Krishna, 11, the "social reckoning" of 2020 and the reaction (backlash) to her bikini pictures on Instagram.
"I get flak for saying what I think about the right to choose, immigration, Black Lives Matter, women’s rights, endometriosis, all of it," Lakshmi told El-Waylly. "I also get flak for people saying, 'Oh, you never complain when it’s Black-on-Asian hate, only when it’s white-on-Asian hate.' I’m like, 'No. For the record, I’m just complaining about Asian hate. I don’t care who’s doing the hating.' It’s just wrong."
Lakshmi continued, "Or I’ll put up a sexy picture of myself, but I’m proud of looking cute because I’ve been working out or something, and I get shit for that. It’s like, listen, I was a lingerie model. When I was 23, or 24, or 25, nobody said anything negative about me wearing lingerie. Why are you saying that now and it’s like the most tame picture?"
When asked about people talking about her body, Lakshmi called it a "phenomenon is as old as time; people are comfortable regulating a woman’s body. People are comfortable making laws about women’s bodies, prohibiting medicines that women’s bodies need. They are expert and enthusiastic participants in subjugating a woman’s body, who they’ve never met or seen on a national level. One diss on Instagram, that’s child’s play.
In the 90s, Lakshmi modeled for Elle Italia and designer Roberto Cavalli and in 2012, posed for Playboy wearing lingerie. And her Instagram page proves that her modeling days have not expired — in March, she shared a photo of herself relaxing in a cobalt-blue bikini and this month, one of her wearing a bra-and-underwear set. To Lakshmi, aging is no excuse to retire her bikini, she explained on Twitter in 2018. "It takes time to develop as a person," she wrote, sharing a bikini photo. "In truth, I feel better about my body now, even after breastfeeding, gravity, etc. than I did in my 20s. I’m not riddled with insecurity anymore."
Asked by El-Waylly to specify the feedback she receives from her photos, Lakshmi explained, "Like I’m exploiting myself or fishing or compliments. To which I just say, 'Go f*** yourself,' honestly. Everybody has an opinion, and it’s easy on social media, because you can hide behind your handle."
She added, "It’s hard to remember who you are in those situations and not have the conversation devolve to their level. Stay calm, take a breath, don’t take it personally, and just respond in your voice. But on the whole, I’ve been lucky; I haven’t had too much of a problem. But there’s always the delete button."
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