Author, TV host and mother Padma Lakshmi suffered in silence and frustration with undiagnosed endometriosis until she was 36. She struggled not just physically but emotionally with the impact of the disease. Understandably, when finally diagnosed, she was also angry that it took so long because so much of her pain could have been alleviated.
Women’s voices are often not heard, and it is sadly too common to hear “oh she’s just being hormonal” as an acceptable response to pain and difficulty. Padma Lakshmi joined us at Moms +SocialGood recently to talk through her journey with our community manager, Chrysula Winegar. Lakshmi co-founded the Endometriosis Foundation of America and has become an outspoken and passionate advocate on this issue but also on the larger conversation of women’s voices.
“I believe that this issue of women’s voices not being heard is the root of a lot of our problems in the world,” says Lakshmi. “I finally got a doctor who looked at me like I was a human being rather than a piece of anatomy.” It can be life-changing to simply be seen, heard and acknowledged.
Lakshmi continued, “As women we are always told we have to bear it. That this is what we have to do… (but) pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. We should listen to our bodies and listen to ourselves.”
Passing on the Right Information
“We have to be very careful about what information we pass down to the next generation.” Every day our world is evolving and changing and there is new knowledge. Lakshmi suggests we should question the received wisdom “and just see if there is a new road that may not have been there yesterday.” She also calls on mothers to be open and frank, not just in conversations about our bodies with our daughters, but also our sons.
Speaking Out and Making Change
As Lakshmi has found her voice and claimed power over her body and emotional and mental health, she has set herself on a new path. “Every time I talk about how painful and lonely it was, it makes it less lonely and painful, it takes the pain away. All those weeks, months of life missed…somehow become worthwhile.”
“You don’t have to be a mother to be motherly. That’s a very important thing to remember. You can make change every day. You can influence people in the slightest ways. It doesn’t have to be a big soapbox speech.”
“I have a found a way to turn my pain into power and that’s the only way to win; to take what is your adversity and find a way to use what has weakened you in the past to give you or someone else strength. That can be done in small ways or big. You can be sitting next to someone at the dentist or you can be speaking and giving the keynote at Harvard.” The size of the audience doesn’t matter — only that we are out there trying.
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Watch Padma Lakshmi’s Moms +SocialGood conversation here. If you only have a minute, get the highlights of Padma’s passion and energy on the red carpet with Negin Janati here. Learn more about the Endometriosis Foundation of America and their work by following them on Facebook and Twitter.