Since my job revolves around the web, I’m always online either researching, or flipping through magazines to find people in my industry doing really inspiring work.
That’s how I came across Mia Kang. The Sports Illustrated model is taking the world by storm, for her brains AND beauty. I was first captivated by Mia because of her confident attitude, but more importantly, because of what she stands for. Mia isn’t just promoting modeling and pretty pictures on beaches: she’s opening up the conversation revolving around modeling and body image, which not to many models are talking about.
In 2016, Mia won the SI Swimsuit Model Contest, and has since graced the pages of the magazine. She grew up in Hong Kong, which explains her beautifully exotic look. Before she was modeling, she struggled with anorexia, bulimia, and depression. I always talk about how models and celebrities are dealing with the SAME stuff that you are, they’re just dealing with stuff in front of the public eye.
Thank you SO much Mia sharing your story, and for being such an incredible inspiration to young girls across the globe!
1. How do you describe the modeling industry in 2017?
Transitioning, but confused. There is definitely change happening and the industry is becoming more aware of size diversity and healthy body image, but a lot of brands and designers seem to be too afraid to make the jump.
3. What advice would you give to young adults interested in modeling? How do they avoid the negativity?
There is no avoiding negativity in the fashion or even entertainment industry as a whole. When you put yourself out there to be judged, you will hear the good and the bad. The most important thing is to keep a good head on your shoulders. Stay grounded. Know that modeling is so far from the center of the world. Educate yourself and be smart.
4. Does social media play a huge role in your business?
Yes. When I started modeling 15 years ago we booked jobs because we were right for it. Today, it seems like Instagram is a major deciding factor on whether you confirm a job or not. On the one hand it’s great because we have more control over our brand and we have a platform and a voice to express ourselves, but on the other hand it has also forced us to this extreme narcissism. If I post a picture of a great book I read it will receive next to no likes. If I post a picture of my boobs it will receive a ton of likes. And with this massive pressure to increase your following (because it then helps you book paid jobs), you find yourself with a major pressure to conform to what you think people want to see. It’s getting harder to remain authentic because I’m not sure if substance is truly recognized.
5. What interests you about my program, Media Impact and Navigation for Teens, and why do you think schools should talk to kids about their bodies?
MINT is something that would have been great to have around when I was a teenager. I grew up overweight and heavily bullied. At age 13 I halved my weight and got scouted as a model. For the next 15 years I dealt with every eating disorder you could imagine, body dysmorphic disorders, crippling anxiety, psychological issues, addictions and even toyed with the idea of suicide. So much of this was fueled by what I saw in the media. If I had known that even others were in the same position as me, I think it could have helped me battle my demons.
6. What is one piece of advice you have for teens who want to follow their dreams, and don’t know where to start?
You have to really, really want it. A lot of people say they have dreams they want to pursue, very few people are willing to devote every ounce of themselves to their dreams. That’s what separates them from the masses. Never ever give up – even when things are adverse and everyone tells you ‘no’, make sure that fire in your belly keeps blazing.