After Indian American personality Padma Lakshmi wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in September about how she was raped at the age of 16 while she was sleeping beside her 23-year-old boyfriend, she told Today that she does not “want to be known as that girl from that cooking show who was raped.”
Lakshmi also emphasized the importance of opening up about sexual assault and that even though she decided to open up about it, others do not because they are afraid of being defined by the experience.
“I think women feel that way. They feel like they have this invisible scarlet letter that this happened to them,” she told Today.
Her op-ed was published after sexual assault allegations were raised during the Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Brett Kavanaugh, which is what inspired her to write her story in the first place.
“It didn’t feel right to me. I thought, what happened to me is really important and really painful and it deserves more than a hashtag,” Lakshmi told Today, adding how she thought she was going to feel if Kavanaugh got confirmed, which he eventually was.
Describing it as ripping off a 32-year-old bandage, Lakshmi feels that she has helped give a voice to others who are wrapped in similar situations, by writing her story and getting the courage to open up about sexual assault.
Today, Lakhsmi is not only the host of “Top Chef,” but a mother as well.
She also has a foundation for women’s reproductive health and is with the ACLU, speaking on their behalf for immigration.