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Kimora Lee Simmons defends her daughter’s decision to pursue modeling while obtaining her degree at Harvard. During an exclusive interview with PEOPLE this week, the famous model applauded her daughter Aoki Lee Simmons for standing tall in her decision to model despite getting an ivy league education.

“I love it that she’s trying to follow in my footsteps. But also, I think it’s a pain because if I had had some of what they have, maybe I wouldn’t have been a model. But I think it’s just looking at different sides of a coin,” Kimora told the outlet.

Earlier this month, Aoki faced criticism on TikTok from internet detractors who questioned her career choice. In fact, one user even asked why the “articulate and obviously educated” student would want to model in the first place. Kimora called the insensitive commentary “absolutely absurd.”

“We wish Aoki the best, and she knows that,” the Baby Phat founder continued. “So whether it’s in front of the camera or behind the scenes, it doesn’t take away anymore. And I think she’s probably seen that with her mom,” she explained. “It doesn’t make you any more or less of a business person or any more or less of a student or a student of the world or any more or less than a model. It’s important to explore all your passions. “



Aoki’s modeling career is already off to a promising start. The young star, signed to Nomad Management, has posed for major brands and designers like Calvin Klein, Pyer Moss, and of course, Baby Phat.

Aoki Lee Simmons doubles down on her modeling career choice

Earlier this month, while addressing some of the backlash, Aoki, who just celebrated her 20th birthday, broke down why she decided to venture into the world of modeling.

“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?” Aoki asked in the video. “One, because I love it. I think we should normalize you liking something. You don’t have to do what you’re immediately good at.”

Aoki went on to give an example of her ethos. “Growing up, I was a great volleyball player because I was tall. I didn’t have to go into volleyball forever because I was good at it from a young age…Hard work will beat talent when talent doesn’t work hard. You don’t have to be immediately talented to go into a field, and you may end up the best one through hard work.”

The Harvard model added that through modeling, she hopes to empower young women to explore all of their creative passions free of judgment.

“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/fashion-based career. One that requires plenty of smarts. Two, you can be two kinds of people in one person. That’s really who I am,” she added.



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Kimora Lee Simmons Defends Her Daughter Aoki’s Decision To Pursue Modeling  was originally published on