In a new memoir Love, Loss and What We Ate, Padma Lakshmi shares aspects of her past that are relatable for countless women.
Lakshmi opens up about her childhood sexual abuse in a candid interview with People. As a 7-year-old girl living in Queens, New York City, she was molested by a friend of her now-former stepfather.
“Once you take a girl’s innocence, you can never get it back,” Lakshmi says. “What I remember more is telling my mother what happened and her believing me, and telling someone else what happened and that person not believing me.”
Lakshmi has shared an excerpt from the book in which she describes the experience of being molested to People. She writes, “One night, I woke up to his hand in my underpants. He took my hand and placed it inside his briefs. I don’t know how many times it happened before, since I suspect I slept through some incidents.”
She goes on to discuss her own difficulty conceiving due to endometriosis, a painful condition where uterine lining grows outside the uterus. Although she was told she was unable to get pregnant, she did eventually get pregnant in 2009.
“I was shocked and elated,” says Lakshmi in the People interview. “And then I was like ‘Hold on, wait a minute.'” Lakshmi was dating two men at the time, which meant she was unsure who her daughter Krishna’s father would be.
It took until September to determine her daughter’s paternity, months in which the baby’s father hung between Teddy Forstmann, IMG CEO, and Adam Dell, of the Dell Computer family. Both men knew she had been dating other people. “To say that I feel guilty would be inaccurate,” she tells People.
Forstmann wasn’t the father — and although he was initially angered by the public nature of the drama, he raised Krishna as his own and left her a trust fund when he died in 2012.
Lakshmi is proud that she wasn’t afraid to address scandalous subjects in her book.
“There were a lot of difficult things I went through in a very short intense period of time under very public circumstances, and I needed to be forthright and honest about it. I needed to write the kind of book that I would read, frankly. I wouldn’t want to read a book that was just one long fluff piece.”