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Padma Lakshmi Reveals the Advice She'd Give Her Younger Model Self: 'Find Inner Strength' (Exclusive)

The Top Chef host made her Sports Illustrated Swimsuit debut in her 50s – and tells PEOPLE what advice she’d share with her younger self starting out in modeling

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Padma Lakshmi at the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2023 Issue Release Party at Hard Rock Hotel New York
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Padma Lakshmi at the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2023 Issue Release Party at Hard Rock Hotel New York

Padma Lakshmi has empowering words of advice for her 20-something self.

"I would say don't be so hard on yourself. That's what I would tell my younger self," she told PEOPLE exclusively at Sports Illustrated Swimsuit's New York City launch party on Thursday.

Last week, the author, mom and Top Chef host made her debut in the famed magazine at 52, sharing with the outlet the feeling of empowerment that has come with age.

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That newfound sentiment is similar to the sound advice she'd pass down to younger Padma, who began her career in modeling. Lakshmi added to PEOPLE, "Just try to find some inner strength, because as long as you do your part with eating healthy and working out, that will take care of itself."

Another one of her priorities now, she added, is that "it's more important to feel beautiful, and whatever makes you feel beautiful is what you should focus on, no matter what you look like."

Related: Padma Lakshmi Wears a Gold Sequin Bikini for 'SI Swimsuit' : 'I Have Never Felt Better'

Jim Spellman/WireImage Padma Lakshmi at the 2002 N.Y.C. premiere of The Hours
Jim Spellman/WireImage Padma Lakshmi at the 2002 N.Y.C. premiere of The Hours

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In her new decade of life, the Taste the Nation star has discovered the gifts that come with aging.

"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," she told SI Swimsuit, for which she modeled a variety of sexy suits.

She also wants others to know that "sometimes a whole new phase that's even more exciting than anything you've ever experienced before can happen well over 40."

She's certainly living out that mindset. "I love where I am in my life and know my body is not perfect by any means, but I feel beautiful," she added to the outlet. "I feel like I have a very lucky, fruitful, productive life."

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Read the original article on People.