Padma Lakshmi caused a stir back in 2009 when she bore her naked (and pregnant) body for Page Six Magazine. But since giving birth to daughter Krishna Thea Lakshmi last year, the “Top Chef” host and jewelry designer doesn’t have anything to hide.
“I think those are beautiful pictures and they hang in our design studio and my daughter passes those pictures every day,” Lakshmi told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column while unveiling Frito-Lay’s “Flavor Kitchen” on Times Square. “I think a woman's body is one of the most beautiful creations on this Earth and it's not what you do, it's how you do it. Michael Angelo did nudes too. There's a difference between a beautiful photo and an exploited photo, and I don't believe there's anything exploited in the photos that I've taken.”
Speaking of her daughter, Lakshmi (who despite being “under slept” is relishing the mommy role) is also reportedly in the midst of a bitter custody battle with the father Adam Dell, brother of Dell computer founder Michael Dell, making her the perfect candidate for tabloid fodder.
“First of all, a lot of what you read is just plain untrue, and then a lot of it is really personal so I can't even defend myself because then I'm adding to the noise and opening up the discussion and that's not right for me and it's not right for my family and it's not healthy,” she continued. “I have been working hard all my life ever since I got out of college to build a career with my own hands and own mind and you would think that that would be enough to talk about. Being an immigrant in the country, being a woman of color, but just being a hard-working person that's just trying to do something in life that's using their head and their effort should be enough. I don't think you have to go 'there' and if you dig deep enough into anyone's life, you're going to find all kinds of things.”
Yet despite being a pioneer in the Indian model movement, the 40-year-old doesn’t constantly play on her heritage, and she isn’t afraid to admit her motivation stems from making big money.
“I don't get up in the morning thinking, 'I'm an Indian' or 'I'm a woman' or 'I'm a person of color' or 'I'm this or I'm that.' I get up thinking, 'Alright, what can I do to accomplish what I find interesting in the world?' I never start from a place of my ethnicity or my gender, I start from a place of ambition and just curiosity about the world I live in and enthusiasm for being active, mentally and physically,” Lakshmi added. “Also, because I want a good life for me and my child, I'm professionally ambitious just from a monetary standpoint.”
Lakshmi isn’t opposed to her daughter entering the entertainment and fashion industry, either.
“If she asks to be involved in that before she's 18, then I will judiciously discuss it with the rest of her family and make that decision after she's 18 or after she's gone through college or when she's 21 or 22. I would encourage going about it that way,” Lakshmi said. “Krishna is her own person and she will become who she is going to be come and we will navigate that road when we get there.”
In addition to having one’s personal life scrutinized, being in the public eye means having your appearance up for critique too – hence Lakshmi works hard to keep her figure as flawless as possible.
“I just make up for the calories I consume whether it's chips or a big turkey burger or whatever, by doing a lot of exercise. There's no magic formula, it's just arithmetic. You have to burn more calories than you take in. It's like balancing a bank account, it requires consistency, discipline, and understanding the numbers,” she explained. “If you splurge one day, you have to take a spinning class the next day. If you have a big meal coming up, you probably want to hit the jump rope for 10 minutes. Anything you can do, little things and big things, but it's every day. Its consistency and a lifestyle, not just a choice. A healthy lifestyle every day.”
Deidre Behar contributed to this report.