Aoki Lee Simmons Takes Break From Modeling For Her Mental Health

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 06: Aoki Lee Simmons attends Swae Lee’s Birthday Party on June 06, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)

Aoki Lee Simmons is taking a sabbatical from the modeling world.

The 21-year-old Harvard graduate recently shared a series of introspective posts on social media, revealing her decision to step back from the modeling industry to focus on her mental health.

This announcement comes in the wake of her breakup with 66-year-old restaurateur Vittorio Assaf, an event that has sparked widespread discussion about her personal life.

Simmons posted a photo of herself looking sad and frankly dejected, writing, “I know lots, in fact, most models go through so much more, including my own mama, but it’s not for me. I’m a personal person, I take things personally. I’m honest and open and take things hard when I feel I was kind and received genuine cruelty (I don’t just mean not booking a job cause that’s life!) but interpersonal cruelty.”

“There was other worse, darker stuff that was happening,” Simmons recounted.

Simmons continued, “Hate to say it [and] I hope I don’t sound ridiculous, but I will not be going back to any kind of fashion week unless I’m mentally prepared for it and feel loved and supported. The last one ruined my mental health.”

Though the posts were certainly revealing, Simmons remained guarded about what she endured while launching her modeling career.

“I didn’t tell the full story of this time, the good and the very bad because I’m not ready and am not sure I’m ready to quit, but there’s certainly more to it! The stuff that had me crying went beyond normal modeling stresses [that] my mom prepared me for those and told me to expect it…There was other worse, darker stuff that was happening I’ll get into one day,” she explained.

Amid a mosaic of unsmiling photos, Simmons went on to reference her controversial relationship with the man nearly the same age as her father.

“And then from this very dark virtually STARVING place I made a bad decision after being coerced for YEARS and the entire internet (24 million hits, if I recall correctly) dragged me through the mud for it,” she wrote.

Simmons has been vocal about the lack of privacy and the harsh criticisms she faces online, which have compounded her stress and affected her self-image. The model revealed that she is also recovering from “disordered eating,” noting she has already gained 30 pounds since her Milan Fashion Week appearance last February. 

A representative for Simmons says, “She looks forward to a bright future in modeling and fashion with boundaries in place to preserve her well-being.”