Aoki Lee Simmons Recalls Being Talked About For Her Looks As A Child & Where She Stands With Her Dad
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Aoki Lee Simmons Recalls Being Talked About For Her Looks As A Child & Where She Stands With Her Dad

It's hard to grow up underneath the harsh light and the scrutiny of the public eye. Add a supermodel mogul mom, a media mogul dad, reality TV shows, and Baby Phat runway shows to the mix, and you'll have a taste of what it was like for Aoki Lee Simmons growing up in the limelight. All that glitters isn't gold, and personal challenges don't discriminate against tax brackets.

Earlier this year, Aoki made headlines alongside her mom, Kimora Lee Simmons, as they publicly revealed what they had been going through privately as a family. Russell Simmons' reputation took a hit amid rape and sexual misconduct allegations, which he vehemently denies. The 65-year-old entrepreneur is also estranged from the family, which came to a head following a public dispute about Father's Day. Aoki supported her mother's claims that Russell had allegedly threatened their lives and also posted a recording of a video call between the two where he could be seen yelling at Aoki. She admitted to the public how damaging their conversations and relationship had become for her mental health.

Aoki would eventually stand by her truth in the days that followed, posting to her Instagram account, "Until a short time ago, this is the man who told me 'always defend and look after your mother girls' and 'never let a man curse at you, you call daddy if a man ever tries to yell at you or scare you that's never ok! Real men don't shout at women and girls." She added, "So to all the toxic men in my comments using 'I'm defending him' to be foul and talk about all the grievances you have with women, you can save it. It's pathetic. He would agree I know that for sure."

Despite navigating troubling times as a family, Aoki had an incredible year so far in terms of achievements. Alongside her part-time pursuit of modeling, she was able to graduate from Harvard University with a double major. At 20 years old at the time, she stands in history as one of the youngest Black women to accomplish such a win. One of her latest career moments can be found on the September cover of Teen Vogue.

The now-21-year-old spoke candidly about reading online about her looks as a kid, the advantages of being a "nepo baby," and where she stands on what happened with her dad.

Aoki on her looks being scrutinized and critiqued at a young age:

“At the time, I was reading a lot of crazy stuff: 'Poor her, she got the dad genes.' There were literally articles like, ‘Celebrity Kid Gone Wrong’ — and I was like, ‘Okay, I’m 11.’"

On benefitting from being a nepo baby: 

“It’s totally true. I had no idea if I’d do modeling without my family, without their name helping me. I sometimes think when I look at shows or shoots — if I had done it, and it was that bad, and I was not me, would I get another shot? Would I have had the chance to develop the way that I have?”

“All you can do is be grateful and try to stay in your lane a bit."

Aoki on having no regrets about exposing her fractured relationship with her dad online:

“I don’t regret it. Part of it was already out there. There were reasons I thought it was reasonable to publish, because it was playing out in, like, a silent bubble.”

To read the cover story in full, head over toTeen Vogue.

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Featured image by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows

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