As with any models of color, there's the danger of Indian models being typecast, posing in "exotic" clothing, as Lakshmi did, or landing campaigns only to have their beauty bashed in the name of mainstream appeal. (When Loreal first signed Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai to its roster of spokeswomen, the company dubbed her voice with a less-accented lilt for select American versions of her TV ads.) But Britto sees an end to all that.
"I don't believe that exotic people and exotic models should only model exotic clothes. That's like saying Americans can't eat exotic food. It would be shallow and ignorant for anyone to think that someone of exotic origin should be relegated to modeling only things that speak to their ethnicity," she said.
The time is ripe and the time is now. If a pop culture accustomed to all-American models like Cindy Crawford and Nikki Taylor was able to make household names out of Brazil's Bundchen and Russia's Natalia Vodianova, the Duttas and Menons of the world can catch on, too, if they put in the work.
Asked if she had any advice to offer up-and-coming Indian models, Lakshmi said, "Don't consider yourself an Indian model. Just consider yourself a model. And if it's harder for a brown face to get a cover, that just means you need to work harder to get it."