Aoki Lee Simmons Responds to Criticism of Her Pursuing a Modeling Career While Studying at Harvard

Aoki Lee Simmons attends the Dior Men's Spring/Summer 2023 Collection
Aoki Lee Simmons attends the Dior Men’s Spring/Summer 2023 Collection

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty

Aoki Lee Simmons is proud to be a model.

The 19-year-old Harvard student was asked on TikTok on Monday why she still wanted to be a model despite getting an Ivy League education. A fan commented on one of her videos, asking, “You’re so articulate and obviously educated .. how come u chose modeling?”

Simmons, the daughter of Kimora Lee Simmons and Russell Simmons, took issue with the implication that someone can’t be both college-educated and a model and made a TikTok addressing it.

“Well, one, models aren’t uneducated and not articulate, but two, I think what you’re really getting at is, ‘Why am I going into a field that doesn’t necessarily require a degree or require a whole lot of book smarts when I have a lot of education?'” Simmons said in the video.

“Well, one, because I love it, and I think we should normalize liking something,” she continued. “You don’t have to do what you’re immediately good at.”

Simmons, who made her runway debut last year modeling for Pyer Moss Paris Couture and has posed for her family’s Baby Phat line and Just Fab, went on to give the example that growing up, she played volleyball because she was tall, and was naturally good at it. That didn’t mean, however, she wanted to pursue it for life.

“You can be good at something and not want to do it forever, and you can be bad at something and still pursue it,” she said in her TikTok.

Aoki Lee Simmons walks the runway during the Pyer Moss Couture Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2021/2022 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 10, 2021 in Irvington
Aoki Lee Simmons walks the runway during the Pyer Moss Couture Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2021/2022 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 10, 2021 in Irvington

Cindy Ord/WireImage

“I really want us to move towards a future where young women aren’t being asked this question. Like, not being asked, ‘Why did you follow your more creative passion even though you’re smart?'” Simmons continued in her video, encouraging her viewers to choose to do the things they love.

“I would like to change the idea that you can’t be smart and pretty, or you can’t be smart and enjoy your looks or enjoy a creative, beauty- [and] fashion-based career,” she continued. “You can be two kinds of people in one person.”

“Do whatever you want,” she said, wrapping up her video. “Get a degree; don’t use it. Get a degree; use it later … Get a degree later. Don’t get one — do whatever you want to do! And nothing is a waste of your talent.”

She didn’t stop there, though, Simmons, who got into Harvard at age 16, made a few follow-up videos responding to more comments, including one where she acknowledged that models have to be smart because they’re “independent contractors.”

In yet another follow-up, the model points out the crux of the issue, saying, “Some people still struggle to see women as complex human beings. That’s the real issue behind this question I get all the time.”

Published by anthonyhayble

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