Interview With Mia Kang
Interview With Mia Kang
Even though Mia Kang is a successful model who has traveled around the world since the age of 13, it has taken her a long time to find happiness with her body. Fourteen years later, battling years of eating disorders to stay thin, she took a vacation in Thailand where she discovered a passion for Muay Thai. Her training in Muay Thai taught her strength, confidence, and balance. Nine months later, she returned to New York City with a new perspective, accepted her former insecurities, and learned to love herself. The cover of Sports Illustrated showed Mia looking healthy, happy, extremely fit, and sexy. Mia opened up to Jejune Magazine about her struggles stemming from childhood, her battles with eating disorders, the pressures as a model, and her triumphs, including the achievement of a degree in finance.
I personally liked the fact that Mia is a size 6 in clothing, which is my size too. Her points about the focus on size 0-2 for models and her jump to Plus size are refreshing. Hopefully we can catch up to all size ranges in the fashion world and maybe Mia just started that trend.
Written by Alison Hernon, Fashion Director, Jejune Magazine
1. Where are you originally from?
I'm born and raised in Hong Kong, I'm half Korean, half British, I have a Swiss passport, and I live between the USA and Thailand.
2. How did you get into the modeling world?
When I was 13 I did dance lessons and my dance teacher told me to go into her friends modeling agency and give it a go, I had no idea what I was doing. I went in, and 3 days later I booked my first shoot.
3. How long have you been modeling for?
16 years now.
3. What do you like about working as a model?
No two days are the same. You get to meet new people all the time. You never know what’s coming next.
4. Growing up with an eating disorder is very hard, can you please tell us about your
experiences with anorexia and/or bulimia?
I grew up overweight and at age 13 I almost halved my weight. I spent the next 15 years going through every eating disorder you can imagine - anorexia, bulimia, addiction to cigarettes, narcotics, laxatives, health supplements, diuretics. At age 27, I had moved to New York and was under a lot of pressure from the industry to be thinner (I was being asked things like to go on 10 day liquid only diets before a shoot), but my body and my mind had had enough so I asked for a 10 day vacation. I went away to Thailand and found myself falling in love with Muay Thai and moving into a training camp to live, eat, breathe, sleep Muay Thai for none months. Over the course of those 9 months, I gained my health and sanity back, but most importantly my happiness. I had gained strength, confidence, rid myself of the insecurities that had weighed me down since I can remember, I learned how to eat meals. I came back to New York and said, I am finally happy, healthy and confident, this is me, take it or leave it, but this is the type of woman that we need in our magazines and on our billboards and in our movies. We need role models. We need a standard of beauty that is realistic and attainable and that promotes HEALTH.
5. Bullying remains a major issue for kids these days, what advice to do you give kids who are
being bullied? Do you have any suggestions on where they can seek help?
I grew up as an overweight mixed race kid in an international school in Hong Kong. Not only was I heavily bullied about my weight but I was heavily bullied because I felt like I didn't fit in with either the Caucasian kids or the Asian kids, so I was a loner. Waking up every day and going to school was so painful that I sometimes used to try and fake illnesses so I could stay home. I underwent everything from name calling, being the victim of pranks, being publicly humiliated, even death threats, but I think the worst was being ignored. I used to hide in the back of the library and sleep during lunch breaks so that time would pass by faster and I could go home. I used to save up all my lunch money and take cabs to and from school so I didn't have to sit alone on the bus and deal with the isolation.
At age 13 I lost a lot of weight and was scouted to be a model. The boys who made my life hell every single day were then the ones asking me out. People then found new reasons to bully me like I was now the 'slut' or 'flat chested' or anything they could think of to put me down. I'm living proof that being bullied only makes you stronger, I wouldn't be who I am today without these experiences and I am actually thankful that they happened. Bullying never stops, all we can do is equip ourselves with the right skills to deal with it and use it as fuel to our fire to succeed in life. Especially with social media today I deal with cyber bullies every day, and as success continues it will only get worse. I think it’s important to share these coping mechanisms and to create a support system so that no one feels alone.
Check out Ditch the Label, a phenomenal anti-bullying organization, I have just partnered with them. https://us.ditchthelabel.org
6. We find it very empowering that you speak out about your struggle with your own body image
and the struggles you have overcome with it, do you still find this a struggle or are you at peace
Good question. I'm human, we all have insecurities, and we probably all always will. What is a decision is whether or not you are going to let these insecurities determine or affect your happiness. I have embraced my insecurities, they make me who I am. I have learned to not only be afraid of them, but to love them. What is most important is the woman that I am, not the vessel that I am in.
7. With the pressures of body image and weight in the modeling world, what has helped you
maintain a healthy attitude and image?
Being unapologetically authentic to myself. I wouldn't have reached this point without Muay Thai.
8. What do you think of the more recent push for healthier models in the fashion world? Do you
think we still have a long way to go?
I think there is a push for it because there is a demand for it. People are tired of seeing size 0 and 2 girls, the average woman can't relate to that. Yes, we still have a long way to go. I hope for a world where there is true diversity, that all shapes, sizes, ethnicities are represented in the media. I'm very proud of the achievements that have already been made but there is room for improvement. There is an industry for sample size 0/2, and there is an industry for plus size 12+, everything else in between is barely represented.
9. Fitness has been a key role in your ability to change your body and your impression of
yourself for the positive. Do you have any advice for people trying to live a healthier life?
I believe we should all be the best version of ourselves. I have been a size 12 and a size 0, but only now at a 6 am I actually happy. It’s a decision. We are creatures of habit and all we need to do is make a decision to replace the bad ones with good ones. A useful tip is to surround yourself with likeminded people, then your whole lifestyle will change.
10. Do you keep to a special diet as well?
No, I believe in moderation. I try to be healthy, but I also know that life is too short to deprive yourself all the time.
11. On top of being a well-established model and a role model/advocate, you are also super
smart! Do you plan to go into finance when you are done with modeling?
Nope! If someone 5 years ago told me that I would be where I am today, I would have laughed in their face. I work in an industry where your success is mostly based on other people's opinion of you. I have learned not to make plans :P
12. What are your goals for the future?
Sky's the limit ;)
(and to be the best mom in the world one day!)