Model and Muay Thai fighter Mia Kang gets real about bullies and being overweight.
The 29-year-old beauty spoke to Cotton On Body about body positivity, being bullied, and fighting back against the modelling industry.
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You were bullied about your weight – what happened?
I grew up really overweight and got bullied. When I was 13, I halved my weight and got scouted as a model immediately. I saw how people treated me differently when nothing had changed except a number on the scale. So I learnt that lesson really young, how superficial people are.
The boys that were bullying me were then asking me out to go to the school dance because I was suddenly a model!
For the next 15 years, I dealt with every eating disorder you could possibly imagine. I was under so much pressure from the industry. In 27 years, I never once looked in the mirror and liked what I saw but from the outside. I was so miserable that I asked for a 10-day vacation and I ended up moving into a Muay Thai camp for 9 months.
What made you go on that 10-day trip to Thailand?
I just wasn’t ready to go back to work and then over the course of my time there, I gained a bunch of weight and got healthy and learnt how to eat meals and got a metabolism. More importantly, I got happy and for the first time in my life, I was comfortable in my own skin.
Fighting really gave me the confidence and the security to come back to work and come back to the industry and say ‘look something needs to change’ because this isn’t healthy.
How did Muay Thai help you get through to that point?
You literally get your ass thrown around a ring and you have to pick yourself up from the floor and you can’t have any ego with that.
When you stand in a ring in front of someone else, you have to believe in yourself 100%. They always say it’s mind over matter and if you only believe in yourself 99%, you’re probably going to lose that fight.
When do you feel most empowered?
People would think I’d say when I’m fighting but I actually think I feel most empowered when I’m around other strong women.
How important is a healthy body image for you?
Ashley Graham said growing up, she could only relate to Jennifer Lopez because that was the only remotely curvy person. There should be someone out there for every little girl to identify with. I wasted a lot of potential happiness by being so insecure. I really want young women to let go of their insecurities, to remove this standard of beauty that’s held above us right now because I want young women to not feel the need to fit into a box.
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AUTHOR: SUPPLIED/ STAFF WRITER