This month, Kalumi chats with Mia Kang- Stunning international model and Muay Thai boxing pro. Mia is refreshingly honest and open about her health struggles and body image issues in hopes of demonstrating to other women the power of self love and acceptance. Mia shares how she found her love for boxing and the inspiration behind starting her female empowerment community, Killa girl gang.
Where did you grow up?
Hong Kong. Super multicultural, I was exposed to a lot. It is still my favorite city in the world.
How long have you been modeling? What got you started?
I was scouted by my dance teacher when I was 13 years old. That makes it 16 years now.
How did you get started in Muay Thai? Why do you enjoy it so much?
I initially first tried Muay Thai for fitness, its the best workout I have ever done. But I really took it to another level when a 10 day vacation to Thailand turned into 6 months of me living in a Thai training camp. I was under so much pressure from work and the fashion industry to look a certain way, and after almost 15 years of living under this constant judgement, I was in a really dark place. Martial arts saved me. It taught me confidence and how to love myself, and it helped me let go of my insecurities and be comfortable in my own skin and with the woman that I am. It revealed the strength in me that was always there.
You're an advocate for positive body image and girl power. What inspired you to become involved in these movements? What are some challenges you have faced?
I don't think that they are movements at all. That implies that they are trends, and I don't see them that way. Its a new norm thats here to stay. Its the beginning of a new chapter.
And I don't see myself as "involved". I am just here, telling my story, living my truth, being 100% unapologetically me. I can only speak for myself and my own experiences and values. But I do believe that there is a demand to see things that we can relate to.
Until I was 27 years old I never felt comfortable in my own skin. I have gone through every eating disorder and body dysmorphic disorder you can imagine. I mentally, emotionally and physically killed myself to try and look like what everyone around me was telling me to look like. I know what it feels like to be a teenage girl looking in a magazine wondering why I don't look like that girl? And I was the girl in the magazine. When I got healthy, happy, learnt to let go of my insecurities and love myself, and confident with the woman that I am, I realized that this is the woman we should have in our magazines. A healthy, confident woman that has something to say, and that women can relate to. There is a difference between a model and a role model and we have a responsibility to be conscious of what we are putting out in the media. I decided that I was going to be the change that I wanted to see.
We love how honest and open you are about your health journey on your social media accounts. What are you hoping to achieve by opening up about your previous health struggles?
Relatability. We need a realistic, attainable standard of beauty. Women need to be able to relate to each other. If we speak up about our insecurities they aren't insecurities anymore.
What is your best piece of advice for young women who are worried to be themselves in fear of being judged?
Be unapologetically yourself. Thats real beauty.
Tell us about @killagirlgang. What is the purpose behind it?
Killa Girl Gang is a female empowerment community that I started. I started all female fight classes for all women, any level, no judgement, no bullshi*t. I give them a taste of my fight training and hopefully they walk out feeling like a badass. I don't want to dictate to people what Killa Girl Gang is because it is whatever you want to take from it. Whether you just want a killer workout, you want to meet some dope women, you want someone to talk to, you wanna to take some anger out, you're stressed and need a distraction, whatever it is...we are a community. I plan on building this community in and out of the fitness world.
Between modeling and fighting your schedule must be INSANE. Would you mind sharing some advice on how you stay healthy on the go? (Working out? Healthy food? products?)
Having a routine is almost impossible for me, so I stick to the basics. Make sure you get enough sleep and water, you'll be surprised at the number of people that struggle with that alone. And keep moving. Even if its shadow boxing in a hotel room!