GWEN IFILL: Padma Lakshmi is perhaps best recognized as the host of Bravo’s “Top Chef.”

Tonight, she speaks about using her public platform to shine light on causes that matter. Lakshmi’s memoir, “Love, Loss, and What We Ate,” was released on International Women’s Day.

PADMA LAKSHMI, Author, “Love, Loss, and What We Ate”: Somebody approached me at a bar one night who was a friend of a friend and thought I could model. And, at the time, you know, with sort of youthful arrogance, I said, oh, I am not going to ruin my GPA in the last semester.

I have a very complicated and layered relationship with modeling. It has allowed me to travel, allowed me to see the world. I did feel guilty about it. You know, I made in one day what it took my mother, for example, as a nurse to make in a month.

I know that my looks are really the alchemy of my parents’ genetics and have little to do with me or any accomplishment of my own.

Food and fashion are both much closer than people realize. You can tell a lot about a culture by the way they eat and by the way they dress. People would say, well, what does a model know about food? But the truth is, models eat a lot. They’re just these freaks of nature who are very young and have great metabolisms. And that is the truth.

One of the biggest fringe benefits of having a measure of success and being in the public eye is being able to do something good for other people.

I think the proudest moment for my family, who are all Indian, wasn’t when “Top Chef” won the Emmy or when I was on the cover of “Vogue.” It was the day that I spoke at MIT and gave the keynote address.

My foundation, the Endometriosis Foundation of America, was launching the first research center for gynepathology. Endometriosis affects a woman not only physically, but emotionally and mentally, because she’s in chronic pain.

It’s something that I have suffered from all my life, and it was a silent and deadly shadow. There’s no cure for endometriosis, but there is certainly very good treatment out there. And if you find it early in a young girl’s life, you can change her life forever.

If I had had surgery at 21 or 25 or even 30, rather than 36 or 37, when I first had it, my life would have been different. I would have gotten 25 percent of my life back, 25 percent of my life to go to football games, help my mom in the kitchen, study for midterms, be a normal human being.

And I don’t want anyone else to go through that ever if they don’t have to.

I’m Padma Lakshmi, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on food, travel, and celebrating all things female.

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