Mia Kang, Model, Body Activist, Muay Thai Fighter
Mia Kang is powerful. She's exploring the depth of this power through countless hours of Muay Thai training, her platform filled with empowering images + raw thoughts on being a woman, and the community she's creating by "coloring outside the lines". She strikes the balance of devoting time to be disciplined, while also leaning into a more playful, present side which makes her an Eat Clean, Play Dirty inspiration. We tapped this model + body activist + multifaceted badass to find out how she's defining freedom and pleasure, the rules she's breaking this summer, and why we could all stand to love ourselves a little harder.
Can you share a little about your journey?
I started modeling at age 13 and was riddled with all kinds of eating and body dysmorphic disorders, addictions, and mental dysfunction that I had developed over the years. I thought I needed to conform to the standard of beauty that was told and shown to me. I wasn't fully aware of how sick I was because it became the world that I lived in. When I was 27, after being asked to go for 10 days of liquids-only before a campaign shoot, I broke down and snapped. I went on a 10 day vacation which turned into 9 months of me moving into a Muay Thai camp in Thailand and living a life led by martial arts. Over the course of that time I got healthy, gained weight, got happy, learned about my insecurities and healed. I came back to New York and insisted that it was time something in the industry changes — we need to be promoting health.
How has Muay Thai changed your relationship with yourself and your body?
I got physically strong, which made me mentally strong, which transpired into every other aspect of my life.
What are some practices that have helped you create the beaming self-confidence and inner strength we see today?
Always be self-improving. Moderation. Always make time for self-care. Be self-aware.
Get off Instagram and go pick up a hobby, read, do a face mask, watch an awesome documentary, take a trip somewhere new. Do things that make you happy. Work on the mind, body & soul, and develop yourself as a human being and a person. People are so focused on what they look like today.
What is something you would say to your younger self? What would you want her to know?
To not waste your time trying to fit in. Be unapologetically yourself.
What does pleasure mean to you?
I believe there are higher and lower pleasures. Lower pleasures are mainly sensory and come from food, sex, exercise, etc... Higher pleasures are intellectual and emotional; for example challenging your intellect or having a family. Lower pleasures are short lived, higher pleasures fulfill you.
What does freedom mean for you?
A lot of freedom comes from within. For example, now that I have chosen to not conform and not let my insecurities weigh me down, I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. To unapologetically be yourself and get rid of societies boxes is freedom.
When do you feel best in your body?
I feel best in my body when I'm balanced. When I'm rested, but worked, but taken care of, but indulged. When you find moderation there is stillness.
This summer, we're striving to find our pleasure and leave behind old stories that no longer serve us— how are you "breaking the rules" and living your best life?
I work in an industry of size 0/2 women, and size 14+ women. I am trying to give representation to all women in between, and promote health. F*ck the system, because it needs to change.
I wish more people would break the rules and live their best lives. Stop trying so hard to get that perfect bikini bod so you can take the best bikini pic and get more likes. Throw that bikini on, have 2 cocktails and order something other than kale. I'm all about moderation - work hard, play hard, do it all, be happy, be healthy, laugh and smile all the time, and live yuh bess liiiiife! I want people to give less f*cks about whats not important, and more f*cks about what really is.
What are some of your favorite wellness rituals and practices to keep you grounded?
I start my morning every day with my (don't laugh) Mia's Morning Sunshine playlist. Yes it’s corny, but it’s a selection of songs that make me dance like no one’s watching. I then put on a matching set of gorgeous lingerie everyday because it makes me feel beautiful. I prioritize my self care - like I'll turn down dinner plans so I can do my bubble bath, face steam + face masking. I will vacation alone. I will spend money on myself, because my mental and emotional health is important.
Favorite books + podcasts for raising your consciousness/ expanding your mind?
I read only non-fiction. I love learning.
What music/ artists are you listening to lately?
Kiki, do you love me..... ;)
Do you have a mantra or phrase that drives you/inspires you?
"Life is not about finding yourself. It's about creating yourself."
What does the idea of legacy mean to you, and how do you wish to leave your mark on the world?
I want to change the industry. I want to help remove the pressures and burdens of being a woman today off of our shoulders.
*all images via @missmiakang