This August for Health Kick month at Rug Lane, we thought there was no one better than Mia Kang, the 29-year-old outspoken body positive activist, model and MMA fighter to be our monthly muse.

The half Korean, half British brunette beauty who is now based in New York, launched her career in Hong Kong at the early age of 13. She was gracing the covers of international magazines such as ELLE and Cosmopolitan from a young age, sharing stories in Hong Kong Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Esquire, as well as China Vogue. Kang’s popularity among the most respected clients quickly established her as a leading face in the industry. Regularly travelling around the world to cities, such as Tokyo, Singapore, Milan, Paris and London, she has appeared in worldwide campaigns for brands such as Chanel, Guess, Marciano, Aveda, Vidal Sassoon, Nike, and was a spokesperson for Max Factor. Kang has been fortunate to work with the most renowned photographers in the industry including Ruven Afandor, Simon Emmet, Yu Tsai and Giovanni Gastel, just to name a few. However, life has not been as glamorous as you at first imagine for the jet setting, successful beauty.

Kang caught a lot of attention back in May with her before/after post. With a transformative three years difference, she highlighted the struggles of an eating and body dysmorphic disorder that she suffered from and had previously concealed. The struggles began at the age of 13 as a result of bullying at school. After losing the weight she was then scouted to be a model and booked her first job. In her now famous post she explained how mixed martial arts helped her overcome her illnesses and how the fashion industry had a standard that was, and still is, unattainable. At the time in when the first photo was taken, Kang revealed that she’d been an American size two in clothing, hadn’t eaten solid food for 10 days and would regularly smoke an entire pack of cigarettes daily. In the first picture Kang wanted to achieve a body akin to those of Victoria’s Secret models, as she’d been preparing to take part in her first Sports Illustrated photoshoot. A job which she had won after being handpicked from hundreds of entries.

“@missmiakang Left: 2015. size 2. I hadn't eaten solid food in 10 days and smoke a pack of Marlboro Lights a day. I was obsessed with my collarbones, ribs and hip bones showing. I was obsessed with having a thigh gap. I was about to shoot Sports Illustrated Swimsuit for the first time and was trying to look like a VS angel. I was told by the industry I never looked better but still had a little more weight to lose. I hated how I looked so much I thought I was fat and lived in constant anxiety. Right: Now. Size 8. I feel like I finally became a woman. I love my thighs, my curves. I love my strength and the fact I can probably whoop your ass. I still have insecurities as I adjust into my new body, just like everyone else. But I know my body, respect it, and love it. It isn't easy for me to post these pictures because I still have a disease that I have to live with for the rest of my life. A small part of me looks at me now and hates it. Eating disorders and body dysmorphia don't just disappear but you can learn how to manage it and heal. You can reprogram your thinking. I want to put the images out there that I never had. I want to show women that it's ok to gain weight. We have the pleasure of having fluctuating bodies, enjoy your curves, enjoy being a WOMAN. Be healthy and be confident. We have one body and one life, don't let your insecurities hold you back from happiness.”

Since the first post, she has come a long way in the three years, striving to overcome the tribulations of eating disorders and gradually learning how to embrace her body. As Kang explained, eating disorders don’t simply disappear overnight. However, she’s managed to adopt a healthier mindset in order to heal both mentally and physically. The post’s aim was to encourage others not to let their body insecurities stop them from living their life to the full. The post currently has more than 21,000 likes, with many people expressing their admiration for Kang and their appreciation for her honesty.

With comments such as -

I love the new you💜

This is so inspiring🙌

Thank you for your beautiful, inspiring transparency ❤️ all the best!

Thank you, Mia, for sharing! It is beautiful women like you that help makes us stronger! 😘😘😘

When Kang hit rock bottom three years ago during her struggles she took a break from modelling and went to stay at her parent’s home in Thailand. The vacation turned into a relocation as she had discovered and fallen in love with MMA fighting. This led her to a healthier lifestyle and encourage women to do the same. These days Kang not only inspires others how to be mentally and physically strong but also how to lead a multidimensional life and eliminate society's boxes by sharing her life story of juggling modelling, business and boxing careers. Redefining what ‘sexy’ means, Kang also holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and Financial Law from the University of London. It is her mission to prove that it is not about how much skin you show; it is about strength, intelligence and confidence. And that you can be strong, healthy and beautiful all at the same time!

Mia has come a long way since she started modelling at the early age of 13. When her Instagram posts pop up we are overwhelmed with a sense of girl power and self-love. It is so refreshing to see a model encourage women to brace their flaws instead of tricking fans with photoshop, unattainable standards and an unnatural pose. Her comments from fans and popularity prove that to be transparent and love your flaws is the way forward for social media influencers.

We cannot wait for Kang’s next inspiring post, body positive fashion campaign and kick ass MMA fight!

You can follow Mia Kang via her Instagram page @missmiakang and listen to her pre-fight song here

#MonthlyMuse #HealthKick #Muse2018