Padma Lakshmi reacted to making her debut in Sports Illustrated and posing in a bikini at age 52 on TODAY.
The model and host of “Top Chef” spoke about the experience on Monday, May 15, as TODAY's Dylan Dreyer and Sheinelle Jones gushed over the photos.
"It's happening much later in my life and I thought it would," Lakshmi said, before admitting she hadn't seen all of the photos yet.
"Hashtag goals!" Sheinelle said as the group looked at several of the pictures, which show Lakshmi in a gold string bikini.
"It was so exciting to do it," Lakshmi added. "I mean, I would have killed for it in my 20s when I was a model, but that it's happening now is all the much sweeter, and I'm glad they're being more diverse."
Lakshmi, who is also the host of "Taste the Nation," spoke about her response to being asked to do the photo shoot in a promo video earlier this month for Sports Illustrated.
"I'm not going to lie, I was pretty nervous," she said. "I’m 52 years old, and I think I look great for my age and I definitely work at it."
She said she felt drawn to participate in the project because she wanted to show women of "all ages, body types (and) skin colors, and show that beauty is so vast and broad of a spectrum."
"I love where I am in my life and know my body is not perfect by any means, but I feel beautiful. I feel like I have a very lucky, fruitful, productive life," Lakshmi said. "My thighs may have been leaner, and my boobs were probably slightly higher in earlier parts of my life, but I have never felt better about myself. I hope they see a full woman in all my facets and nuances and some contradictions. I wouldn’t go back to my 20s if you paid me all the money in the world."
Lakshmi, who shares daughter Krishna, 13, with venture capitalist Adam Dell, also revealed what she hopes young women take away from her debut in the magazine.
"When young women see this, I hope they see that they have a long life to live and that experience and wisdom and going through stuff actually makes you more interesting and enriches you as a person, both physically but also inside," she added.