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Kimora Lee Simmons Defends Daughter Aoki's Modeling Career Amid Criticism: 'It's Absolutely Absurd'

·4-min read
Kimora Lee Simmons and Aoki Lee Simmons attend the Dior Men's Spring/Summer 2023 Collection on May 19, 2022 in Los Angeles, California
Kimora Lee Simmons and Aoki Lee Simmons attend the Dior Men's Spring/Summer 2023 Collection on May 19, 2022 in Los Angeles, California

Amy Sussman/Getty

Kimora Lee Simmons is proud of her daughter Aoki for following her passion.

In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE on Thursday, the mother of five, 47, revealed that she thinks it's "absolutely absurd" that people criticized the 20-year-old Harvard student for wanting 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 shared with PEOPLE at the Back to School Giveaway event, which she hosted in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Baby Phat, Family Dollar, Dollar Tree and Crayola. "Whereas she says, 'Mom, you should be proud.' It's like aspirational, this is what people want to do also. And I just feel like sometimes you don't want your kids to face hardships. I think that's what any mom would say, right?"

Kimora Lee Simmons
Kimora Lee Simmons

Jesse Grant/Getty

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

She added, "If I've done it and I know it's tough and I know it's a little janky. Why would you want to do it? But we love an educated clumsy queen. She is an educated, clumsy queen."

The fashion mogul, model and entrepreneur is supportive of her daughter balancing both school and her modeling career.

"We wish Aoki the best and she knows that. 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 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

RELATED: Kimora Lee Simmons Poses for Rare Photo with All Five of Her Children at Back to School Event

Earlier this month, Aoki responded to criticism of her pursuing a modeling career while studying at Harvard.

On TikTok, a fan commented on one of her videos, asking, "You're so articulate and obviously educated .. how come u chose modeling?" Aoki took issue with the implication that someone can't be both college-educated and a model and made a video 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?'" Aoki said.

RELATED: Aoki Lee Simmons Shows Off Her 'Girly, Fun' Harvard Dorm Room — With Reminders of Home!

"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."

Aoki, 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.

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"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?'" Aoki 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. You can be two kinds of people in one person."