Model to MMA Fighter: Mia Kang | Liv

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Having modeled in Hong Kong and internationally since her early teens, Mia overcame eating disorders and body dysmorphia to become a professional muay thai fighter, winning by TKO (technical knock-out) during her professional debut earlier this year.

Q How did you get started in the modelling industry, and how and why did you get involved in Muay Thai?

I started modelling at the age of 13. Since I can remember I’ve lived under the pressures of the industry and have never been happy in my own skin. I first started Muay Thai for fitness but started taking it seriously in early 2016, when I had to take a break from my industry for physical and mental health reasons. A 10-day vacation to Thailand turned into nine months living in a Thai training camp.

Q What was it like, modelling from a young age?

Since my early teens, I have lived with the constant pressure of trying to conform to a standard of beauty that wasn’t me. Day in and day out, you are judged on your physical appearance and the person that you are means nothing. I’ve been through every eating and body dysmorphic disorder you can imagine. For 27 years I was constantly criticised and living with intense insecurities.

Q What was the turning point for you?

I was asked to go on a 10-day, liquid-only diet before a shoot and my body and my mind broke down. It didn’t help that I was 27 and everyone in the industry wanted me to look like I did when I was 17.

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Q What has been the hardest part of this journey?

Watching my body change as I found health and happiness. It was so hard to watch myself gain weight and muscle, it was against everything I’d ever known. But it was the most rewarding experience, as I learnt to let go of my insecurities.

Q Have you faced any criticism or haters? How did you respond to that?

Yes. And now with social media there are trolls and body shamers. I control my social media space by blocking and deleting negativity, I have a zero tolerance policy for cyber bullying.

Q How did you develop mental resilience during this journey?

I forgot about everything in life except living in the moment. I left behind all my material possessions and work. I cut out everyone but a handful of people. I took each day as it came, and focused on learning about myself.

I am the biggest I have ever been in 16 years of professional modelling, and I am at the peak of my career. I think this is because people realise that beauty is beyond size. And people value the woman that you are far more than the numbers on a measuring tape. In my opinion, Hong Kong has a very unhealthy beauty ideal. Being born and raised in Hong Kong and spending most of my career here, the pressure to be “slim” is insane. I’m excited for the industry to hopefully expand their horizons, and I want to help pioneer this.

Q What are your goals for next year and beyond, both as a model and as a fighter?

All I want to do is try and reach my potential. I want to continue modelling, continue martial arts, get my PhD, do some movies, become a mother one day, and dive further into the business world. Whatever I decide I want to do, I can do it.

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