Aoki Lee Simmons is stepping back to reassess how she handles the immense pressures of the fashion world. In a series of raw and vulnerable Instagram Story posts published on Friday (July 5) morning, the soon-to-be 22-year-old revealed she will be absent from runways, at least for the time being.

“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,” she wrote in the first post shared on Friday (July 5).

Simmons detailed her decision in subsequent posts. “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. It was dark AF. And then from this 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. I was doing my best,” Aoki wrote.

Though the posts were certainly revealing, Aoki remains 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.

After graduating from Harvard University in the spring of 2023, Simmons ripped the runway as a model for Sergio Hudson during New York Fashion Week. She would go on to secure more gigs, including two shows in Europe.

The daughter of Kimora Lee Simmons and Russell Simmons faced a barrage of headlines in Spring 2024 amid speculation that she was dating a prominent restauranteur who is significantly older. The Baby Phat founder and her daughter swatted at the hearsay, suggesting there was no validity to the relationship claims.

The Ivy League alumna also says that she is rebuilding her mental health and recovering from “disordered eating,” noting she has already gained 30 pounds since her Milan Fashion Week appearance last February. A representative for Aoki says, “She looks forward to a bright future in modeling and fashion with boundaries in place to preserve her well-being.”