Padma Lakshmi Said Her SI Swimsuit Shoot Was the First Time in Her Modeling Career That Her Skin ‘Looks Like it Looks’ in Real Life

The 2023 SI Swimsuit model opened up about her experience with the magazine and the industry.

Padma Lakshmi was photographed by Yu Tsai in Dominica. Swimsuit top by NAVY RAY. Swimsuit bottom by Lola & Lamar.

Culinary TV personality Padma Lakshmi appeared on an episode of Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s Dinner’s on Me podcast to talk all things regarding season two of her show Taste the Nation, being a latchkey kid in NYC in the 80s and the surreal experience of her SI Swimsuit shoot.

The Modern Family star welcomed the longtime Topchef host, who made her debut with the magazine this year after being photographed by Yu Tsai in Dominica for the 2023 issue, and described her as “brilliant, curious and kind.”

The New York Times best-selling author modeled for major brands in her 20s, she’s pointed out numerous times that landing in the pages of SI Swimsuit at 52 is so much “sweeter” after having lived three more decades of a “fruitful” and “productive” life and having a healthy and wise body that shows it.

Lakshmi noted on the podcast that the results of her SI Swimsuit shoot were extra special for another reason—they really looked like her.

“I love those pictures because it had been a long time, like over a decade and a half, since I had done any photo shoot like that—and for the first time, my skin looks like it looks,” she explained. “It looks brown. This is the first time that I saw this beautiful pictorial where the skin just looks dark and really beautiful. And I was really happy about that. I had a childhood in the country looking at only white people. I don’t want the littler girl version of me, whether she’s Latina or Asian, to have that same experience. I want them to see people of all colors because that’s what America is.”

Listen to the full episode here.

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Ananya Panchal


Ananya Panchal is a NYC-based Lifestyle & Trending News writer at SI Swimsuit. Before joining the Swim team, the Boston University Alum worked for culture & entertainment beats at Bustle, The San Francisco Chronicle and the TODAY Show. When Ananya is not writing or doom-scrolling on social media, she can be found playing sudoku, rewatching One Tree Hill or trying new restaurants. She's also a coffee and chocolate (separately) enthusiast.