April 15, 2015 01:00 PM

When Padma Lakshmi was getting ready for her Blossom Ball Monday night, she surveyed her fashion options. That’s when her budding fashionista daughter Krishna Thea, 5, chimed in.

“She lets me know what not to wear. I won’t say the designer, but I opened a bag with two dresses that arrived and she said, ‘Oh Mommy, please don’t try those on!’ ” the Top Chef star told PEOPLE Monday at the Endometriosis Foundation of America‘s (EFA) 7th Annual Blossom Ball in N.Y.C.

“I thought they were pretty. But this was more comfortable and hides my brace,” she says of a shimmering orange two-tone gown, featuring a black back.

Lakshmi flips up the bottom of her dress briefly to show a black brace under her elegant garment. “I’m really fine,” she says of the “silly” fall she took last month. “I’m probably going to be able to take it off soon, but it’s a long night and the first night I’m wearing heels since I’ve had the fall so I didn’t want to push my luck.”

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As for the final diagnosis, she says it was simple but wordy: “It was a sprained medial meniscus ligament, a long word, I know … “

A longer-term diagnosis that has plagued Lakshmi is that of the painful condition of endometriosis, which meant as a young girl she “had to stay home several days a month from school. I missed a week of my life for 23 years.” Stars including Bravo’s Andy Cohen, Norman Reedus and Christian Slater came out to support Lakshmi’s fundraising ball.

Her daughter is already involved in the cause, she shares. “She knows Mommy has a charity that helps women and girls with tummy aches. She had a lemonade stand this weekend — we had a medical conference and she made over $500. She donated the whole thing to benefit the EFA,” Lakshmi says. “It was so cute. We Instagrammed a picture of the sign.”

Also cute: Krishna’s mastery of the big medical term. “I was planning the ball and she just said the word one night, sounded it out: endo-metriosis,” the TV star adds. “She said it all by herself without prompting. It was an important lesson to me because I used to be afraid of calling it the Endometriosis Foundation of America because it’s so long and just to say it to people … but then I realized that everyone has to know the word because you can’t cure something that you can’t even say. If a 5 year old can say it, we can all say it.”

— Sara Hammel

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