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Joshua Abramovich

As Brown Fashion Week continues, we had the chance to hear from another incredible speaker: Kouka Webb. Growing up in Hong Kong and Tokyo, she moved to New York in 2014 to begin her modeling career and studies at New York University. While managing both, she earned her undergraduate degree with honors in Nutrition and Dietetics, now obtaining her joint masters degree. Reeno Hashimoto, ‘22, moderated the discussion with Webb about her experience as a British Japanese model and dietitian.

In the beginning, Webb was asked about her life as a child and what sparked her interest in modeling. As a diligent student, she frequented school, participated in cross-country, and worked until midnight everyday. Meanwhile, at the age of just twelve, she was scouted in a flower shop with her mother and sister. Webb’s love for the creative aspect of modeling prompted her to explore the field.

As a model for twelve years, she established principles for her work. Webb discussed how she has never been photographed in a bikini or lingerie. In addition, she has become more selective of modeling jobs, only wanting to pursue ones that relate to her job as a dietitian. Furthermore, Webb has made sure that her modeling career doesn't compromise her authenticity as a health expert by refusing to promote unhealthy products.

When it comes to maintaining a slim figure, the modeling industry often promotes unhealthy eating habits. In fact, Webb’s agents once told her not to eat for a day. As someone who knows about the science of nutrition and how it impacts the body, Webb commented that she would never do something to harm her body. This commitment to living a healthy lifestyle while being a model is truly inspiring.

In response to the growing number of users on the TikTok platform, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Webb decided to join to reach a greater audience. She regularly shares videos about what she eats as a dietitian and model. Moreover, Webb stated that there is pressure to put an idealized version of yourself on Instagram or TikTok. She then confessed to sometimes going for a less nutritional meal, such as instant ramen. It was refreshing to hear her honesty about maintaining a balance and occasionally enjoying less healthy options.

To better her understanding and advice to others, Webb said she stays up to date with news and research in nutrition. However, she occasionally receives backlash from what she eats. Growing up in Japan, Webb loved the cuisine. However, many people exoticize the country’s food, like a roommate telling Webb to eat outside the dorm because of the smell. Similarly, Webb’s teacher scolded her not to eat with her hands. Evidently, Webb has not let the opinions of others discourage her from doing what she enjoys or being herself.

Kouka Webb was a perfect guest for Brown Fashion Week, as she exemplifies academic excellence, stays true to her values, and doesn't let the words of others put her down. At the end of the event, she gave advice to young students: “Life isn’t a long story but a series of poems… Be motivated and try many things but stick to one thing.” We are excited to witness Webb’s career blossom even more in the future.

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