Mia Kang is serious Woman Crush Wednesday material; she’s Sports Illustrated’s newest model and holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and Financial Law from the University of London. Oh, and did we mention she’s a professional Muay Thai fighter? Don’t be intimidated, Potatoheads. Kang is just a human woman (okay, a stunning and accomplished human woman). She acts as an advocate for healthy body image, anti-bullying, fitness and female empowerment (Speaking of which, how badly do you want her t-shirt?) and proves that sexy is about more than wearing a tiny bikini. Read below for our interview with Kang then pick up a copy of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, out today. It’s exactly the inspiration you need…
From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?
In an ideal world where I could eat anything and there wouldn’t be any negative consequences? It would be a day filled with Mexican, Thai and Japanese food. Maybe some Korean and Italian thrown in too. And truffles shaved directly into my mouth!
How do you practice beauty from the inside out?
I don’t have a crazy strict diet – I love food too much and think life is too short. Self-control and moderation need to be exercised and most importantly, an awareness of nutrition. It’s important to understand that your body is a complex machine, and food is it’s fuel. I listen to my body as often as it tells me what I need. Throughout my life, I’ve been obese and I’ve been anorexic. What really helped me find a healthy balance was knowing to ask myself what I need to eat, rather than what I want to eat. I am human, just like everyone else. My weight fluctuates, and I struggle with it all the time. It’s important to maintain an active lifestyle so exercise doesn’t become a tedious chore. Instead, it becomes an essential and an effortless part of your day. I am an outdoors person – hiking, surfing, swimming, zip lining, rock climbing, skate boarding…you name it, I’ll try it! I love to sweat. Exercise and sweat equal the greatest beauty product.
What are your morning and nightly beauty routines?
In the morning, I cleanse, tone, and moisturize. I try to not wear makeup when I am not working. I am obsessed with moisturizing. I love applying Aquaphor on my face for intense hydration of my skin. I also carry mist spray bottles and spritz throughout the day (especially when I’m traveling). Some of my favorites are Clinique Moisture Surge, Evianand La Roche Posay.
In the evenings, I do my disposable sheet mask. Actually, I do them whenever I can. I even go to sleep with them on (and end up peeling the crusty mask off my face in the middle of the night and tossing it aside). I don’t use a particular brand but some of my favorites are Neutrogena and Dr. Jart. The Korean brands are very strong in skincare at the moment. I also use disposable under eye patches, especially when I travel. I recently (with great hesitation) tried the snail gel formula and was very impressed.
What are your favorite workouts? What are workouts you find overrated?
For me, mixing up my workouts is key, so they don’t ever get tedious and stale. They vary from simple running, sprints, hill sprints, spinning, Barre, Pilates, yoga, boxing, Thai boxing, and body weight gym exercises. Muay Thai (also known as Thai boxing) is my all-time favorite workout. When you hit pads, you are doing rounds of high intensity with one minute breaks in between. Amazing for your fitness. It’s a full body workout as you’re punching and kicking. There is a lot of foot work and balance involved, requiring a ton of core strength and control. My favorite part of the sport is the requirement to be mentally switched on and engaged.
Personally, I find hot yoga slightly overrated; it’s not for me. The heat reduces my effort. Yes, it increases your heart rate, so you’re burning calories and you sweat more. However, I would rather give 100% effort in boxing, running, or weight training and subsequently burn and push the muscles more. Put it this way – I’d rather do a regular yoga class and push myself so that I’m sweating like it’s a hot yoga class.
How did you prep the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit shoot?
I was in Thailand beforehand at a Muay Thai training camp, so I was doing my normal training routine, which is about four to five hours a day. I mainly clean up my eating and stick to lean proteins and vegetables, avoid salt, sugar and alcohol and I drink one to two more liters of water per day, which also helps to clear my skin.
What are five fashion items you’re coveting right now?
Where do you love to travel? What won’t you travel without?
I love anywhere with a beach and hot weather. Lip balm and facial mist spray are my essentials.
What’s your splurge?
I splurge on travel; it’s the only thing you buy that makes you richer!
What’s always in your fridge?
What are some pre and post-shoot routines?
Pre-shoot I drink loads of water and do a workout. Post-shoot, I love wrap dinners with the different amazing teams that make all the magic happen. It’s rare to work with the same people twice, so it’s nice to enjoy each other’s company.
If you want to have a drink, but do it the healthy way, what do you opt for?
Vodka, soda water, with a squeeze of lime.
How do you start your day? What’s your go-to breakfast?
Muesli, granola or oatmeal with some honey, blueberries, yogurt and coconut.
What’s your perfect smoothie comprised of? Perfect salad?
I’m not so big into fruits so probably a date, cinnamon, vanilla, coconut, and almond milk smoothie. The perfect salad for me would be kale/spinach/rocket, a few beans, seared tuna, a soft boiled egg, nuts and seeds, sun-dried tomato, chili oil and a light balsamic dressing.
What are you on-set healthy snack go-tos?
Raw unsalted nuts, carrot sticks, a good protein bar and green juices.
How important is a healthy body image? How do you practice that?
Throughout my modeling career, I have suffered from numerous eating and psychological disorders and addictions. I killed myself to try and look like what people were telling me to look like – because that and only that is beautiful. For example, I was told anything above 90cm hips are ugly and unacceptable. Finally, my body and mind had enough. I started to question where the hell these industry standards came from and why they are this way. Then I found fitness, health and sanity. For the first time in my life, I not only feel healthy and happy, but I am comfortable in my own skin. This is what needs to be represented in the media. I spent twenty-eight years of my life hating myself because I didn’t look like the girls in the magazines and on billboards, even when I was that girl. I can’t imagine the pressure that the rest of the women of the world feel. I don’t want my future daughters going through what I did, so I want to make a change in the industry and help set a new standard of beauty. There should be no box to fit in, no boundaries and no limitations to beauty. There needs to be size diversity. I feel like I’ve spent my whole career as a model totally insecure and unhappy with myself. I’m either too big or too Asian or too Caucasian or too curvy or too short…the list goes on. I will not have beauty dictated to me anymore. Beauty is strength, intelligence, confidence and so much more than a number on a scale or a measuring tape.
What cities do you love for food? What restaurants do you go to in each?
I love all kinds of food so this is a tough question for me to answer. Hong Kong has a phenomenal dining scene and a variety of cuisines. Street food in Thailand, Indian food in London, and pizza in New York…every city has its own flavor.
In the same vein as what is the new black in fashion, what’s the new potato right now?
Curves are the New Potato.
*Mia Kang, photographed in New York, NY by Danielle Kosann