Padma Lakshmi accused of cultural appropriation for wearing cornrows on 'Top Chef'

Suzy Byrne
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

Padma Lakshmi‘s hairstyle selection for Thursday’s episode of Top Chef isn’t winning rave reviews.

Padma Lakshmi with University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari. (Photo: John Calipari via Instagram)

The episode, shot last June, took place at the University of Kentucky’s basketball arena in Lexington. For it Lakshmi opted to wear cornrows, and she was called out on Twitter for cultural appropriation.

Photo: Padma Lakshmi

“Why did they make Padma get braids for an episode that references basketball?” someone asked. Another person suggested that the TV personality’s hairstylist for the Bravo show has a “vendetta against her” for the look.









Some tied her hairstyle to the larger national conversation about race right now after the scandal involving Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. One person wrote, “Padma Lakshmi in cornrows and a wifebeater at a BASKETBALL ARENA challenge. Is she planning on running for Virginia governor in the future?”



This isn’t the first time Lakshmi, who was born in India, sported the controversial look. She also wore cornrows last year — and was criticized then too.



Not everyone was offended though. When the Lexington Herald-Leader covered Lakshmi’s visit in June, her hairstyle was described by the publication as “elegant cornrows.” Here she is with Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari, who was a guest judge.


A rep for NBCUniversal told Yahoo on Friday night that the network wouldn’t be commenting. Many of Lakshmi’s fans have been defending her on social media though.


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