There has been an outcry for fashion and beauty companies to bring more shades in…
Oh boy oh boy, do we have some exciting news to share with you, Hello Joburgers!! Cotton On Body has just launched their amazing High Impact Sports Bra, with mesh panels and no underwire for support and shape as well as padded straps for comfort, this is Body’s highest impact performance bra yet!
The High Impact Sports Bra is available in ten different prints and colours with matching shorts and tights – all phenomenally beautiful and the fit is amazing. It moves with your body to ensure comfort, all while staying cool – working out never looked and felt so good.
We chatted one on one with Mia Kang – a Model & a Muay Thai fighter, Women Empowerment activist, and supporter of Body Diversity about her life – and of course the new High Impact Sports Bra.
Tell us about about yourself?
I’m Mia Kang, I’m half Korean, half English. I was born and raised in Hong Kong. I live between New York and Thailand and I’m a model & a Muay Thai fighter.
What are you passionate about?
What I’m really passionate about is that I have a story I guess. I’m really passionate about trying to make a difference in the industry and in the world.
What is your story?
I grew up really overweight and got bullied, I had a really difficult upbringing, a really difficult childhood. When I was 13, I halved my weight and got scouted as a model immediately. Doctors were telling me I was at risk of diabetes and things like that, but I was really alone as a kid so I just stopped eating, I didn’t know what I was doing. When I was really young 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 everyday making my life hell were then asking me out to go to the school dance because I was suddenly a model and was on billboards around the place. For the next 15 years, I dealt with every eating disorder you could possibly imagine. It started with anorexia went to bulimia went all the way to addiction to laxatives, diuretics, supplements, anything that I could do that would help me be skinnier.
I was under so much pressure from the industry all the time, if you were just a little bit smaller, little bit smaller. Since I can remember, I’ve always been “too” something, too big, too big, too short, arms are too this, your arms are too small – there’s always been feedback all the time. I can really honestly say that in 27 years, I never once looked in the mirror and liked what I saw but from the outside, it looked like I was a supermodel, in sports illustrated, in Guess campaigns, jet setting around the world, and from the outside it looked like everything was perfect but I was SO insecure and I hated the skin that I was in.
Then early 2016, I just snapped. My body had had enough, my mind had enough, everybody wanted me to look how I looked when I was 17 but I was 27 – I was never going to look like that. I was super depressed, barely left my house. I didn’t want to leave my house to be around food or people or feel insecure. When I was alone, it wasn’t as bad. I remember I got a call and was asked to go on a 10-day liquid diet before a shoot to really shrink down, and I did it, it was normal. Afterwards, I was so miserable that I asked for a vacation, 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 went to Thailand, I have a place there. There’s a Muay Thai gym on the side of the road where little Thai boys train to become fighters and I used to drive by, then I just stopped one day. I tried Muay Thai before but decided to do that just for a workout. Then I got obsessed with the technique, I really liked how it made me feel, it made me feel happy, it made me feel strong, I never thought about what I looked like.
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?
In martial arts, there is so much to learn; every single day I learn something new. It really is all about not having an ego because you can’t learn everything and you constantly learn from those better than you. 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. You just have to be willing to learn and also self-confidence.
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. That journey of learning to let go of your insecurities, learning to love yourself plus physically, it’s a phenomenal workout.
What has Muay Thai taught you about yourself?
They say you can’t teach someone to be a fighter, you’re either born a fighter or you’re not. One of the most interesting things was how much I was learning about myself through this sport so for example, I believe when you get hit in the face, there’s three kinds of people: there’s the person that will run, the person that will curl up in a ball on the floor and get hit and there’s the person who will hit back.
You can’t control that, like Mike Tyson said, everyone has a plan until they get hit in the face and then you find out who you are and it’s just an incredible journey that I’m now on.
What’s a week of training look like for you?
I just came back from Thailand where I train 6 days a week, with Sunday off. You do two training sessions a day so it totals to be about 5-6 hours a day. It’s just repetition. It’s repetition to train your instincts and your reaction so you react faster. You do things over and over again so you’re at the point where someone kicks you and you’ll lean out of the way. When I’m working, or travelling, it’s about two hours a day.
When in training, I try to eat healthy & clean. I’m a big advocate for listening to your body, if you’re craving carbs, it’s probably because you need carbs. A big thing I learnt is that food is fuel for your body, so adequately nourishing yourself depending on your activity. When I’m in training camp or out of training, I don’t eat the same.
Eating what you need rather than what you want. Me learning that relationship with food is still tough because it’s deeply engrained in me but learning that food is fuel was a big lesson. I really want women and young girls to know this, a lot of people look at food as a reward for exercise. So they’ll be like “I really want to eat that cake, okay I’ll go to the gym tomorrow “Exercise shouldn’t be a punishment for eating, it should be seeing how strong your body is. I want people to change their perspective a little bit.
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. There’s nothing that makes you feel like you can take over the world than when you’re with other strong women. I think it’s so inspiring and so motivating.
How important is a healthy body image to you?
I wasted a lot of potential happiness by being so insecure. I really want young women to let go of their insecurities, I really want to help 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. I think that each woman should know she’s unique & I want everyone to be unapologetically themselves.
You recently did a TED Talk… what did you speak about?
I want to encourage people to step outside the box & to colour outside the lines. Society will always have judgment, expectations and criticism and we shouldn’t let them stop us from exploring our creativity. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Life is about becoming who you want to be. A lot of people say life is about finding yourself, I don’t think so, life is about CREATING yourself. From when I was little, I wanted to be a strong, independent woman and so I became one. It’s that simple.
How important is a healthy body image for you?
So important. In the media, we have a representation for sample size and we have a representation for plus size which is amazing that it’s now become mainstream, thanks to amazing pioneers like Ashley Graham. Everything in the middle, I don’t think there is enough representation for that. I think there should
be, I’m all for equality and for diversity. I think that we need more role models out there that different types of females can relate to. 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.
You tried out our new High Impact Sports Bra… How do you rate it?
Feel totally strapped in and ready for action. And a major bonus is that my cleavage never looked better!
Find out more about Cotton On here…
Hello Joburg was first published in April 1980 as a monthly restaurant and entertainment magazine. Over the years we have developed a network of patriotic Joburgers that love nothing more than sharing their experiences in this beautiful city!