Long gone are the days when women were told they couldn’t have both beauty and brains–-well, at least that’s what we thought.
Aoki Lee Simmons, daughter of Russell Simmons and ex-wife Kimora Lee Simmons, decided to speak out after being asked why she’s pursuing modeling as someone who’s “obviously educated.”
An individual on TikTok commented on a video of her with the question, “You’re so articulate and obviously educated .. how come u chose modeling?”
The 19-year-old Harvard student, who is currently studying classics and government at the prestigious university, is simultaneously following in her mother’s footsteps, modeling on the side. In response to the query, Simmons took to TikTok to let it be known that you can study at an Ivy League university and rip the runway, too.
“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?'” Aoki 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.”
She continued, “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.”
Aoki learned this from mom Kimora, who also had a career as a model and is a successful entrepreneur. The teen, who walked at the end of Baby Phat shows with her mom and sister Ming when she was young, had her true runway debut last year when she modeled for the Pyer Moss Paris Couture Fashion Week show. She’s since done campaigns for the revamped Baby Phat collection.
“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.
She cites playing volleyball because she was tall when growing up as an example.
“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?'” she continued.
“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 added. “You can be two kinds of people in one person.”
Aoki encouraged fans to do whatever they want whether that is getting a degree and using it or getting one and pursuing a different career, as nothing is a waste of time if you enjoy it.
She concluded by saying that the fundamental issue is that people see women as one-dimensional.
“Some people still struggle to see women as complex human beings,” she said. “That’s the real issue behind this question I get all the time.”