Padma Lakshmi‘s hairstyle selection for Thursday’s episode of Top Chef isn’t winning rave reviews.
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.
“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.
Why did they make Padma get braids for an episode that references basketball??
— soillist (@djkilllist) February 8, 2019
lol I love the fact that we are both black and had the same thought on padma’s braids. That’s how you know it a deep part of our culture lol
— queenie (@promqueen005) February 8, 2019
What on earth is Padma wearing??? And who put those straight backs in her hair???? Whhhyyyyy #TopChef
— J. Coop (@JasCooper) February 8, 2019
— Madame S (@MadameSolitaire) February 8, 2019
— PBCguy (@CguyPb) February 8, 2019
I don’t know how I feel about Padma rolling into a basketball game with cornrows. I just… whatever. #TopChef
— Markheavens Tshuma (@MarkMyT) February 8, 2019
I love Padma, but these cornrows ain’t it. #TopChef
— Aisha Alexander (@AishaThinker) February 8, 2019
— Perma-Bitchfaced Nemesis (@OverlySarcasmic) February 8, 2019
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?”
Padma Lakshmi in cornrows and a wifebeater at a BASKETBALL ARENA challenge. Is she planning on running for Virginia governor in the future? #TopChefKentucky#tighterrowsthankawhi#cornrows#isthatreallyralphnortham#futurelotterypick#bravo#topchef#isthisracist#badideapic.twitter.com/bxqc0mMkua
— Gatez (@bengates23) February 8, 2019
Very timely for Padma to wear cornrows on the basketball episode of Top Chef
— Lou Stool (@LouStoo) February 8, 2019
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.
Padma’s cornrows need to die the ignominious death they deserve #topchef
— PLS (@PLS7180) February 24, 2017
— Sasha (@Sashfierce) March 3, 2017
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.
Wearing another culture’s style isn’t an insult, it’s a compliment. Imitation is the most sincerest form of flattery.
Padma Lakshmi accused of cultural appropriation for wearing cornrows on ‘Top Chef’ https://t.co/91FTu4vYuw
— Author A. L. Bryant (@al_bryant17) February 9, 2019
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