Mia Kang doesn't hold back. The former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model and professional Muay Thai fighter has been open about her past struggles with anorexia and bulimia. Just last year, Kang told Health that she had previously binged and purged and also abused laxatives as a young model striving for the "perfect" body.
All that changed when she discovered Muay Thai, or Thai boxing, and began to shift her goals toward getting strong, not skinny. Now Kang wants other women to do the same. In a powerful post on Instagram yesterday, the pro athlete posted two side-by-side photos of herself: one from 2015 when she was a size two, and another from today at a size eight.
"I hadn't eaten solid food in 10 days and [smoked] a pack of Marlboro Lights a day," Kang wrote in the caption, explaining her thin frame from 2015. "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." Even more upsetting, Kang says she was told by industry experts that she had never looked better, but still had some weight left to shed. "I hated how I looked so much I thought I was fat and lived in constant anxiety," she reveals.
Today, Kang flaunts a fuller frame—and a newfound love for her body. "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."
That's not to say every day is an endless self-love party for Kang, who admits that it wasn't easy for her to share these photos with her 171K Instagram followers. "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," she writes.
More than anything, Kang wants women to know that it's okayto gain weight. In fact, sometimes it's the healthiest thing we can do for minds and bodies. "We have the pleasure of having fluctuating bodies, enjoy your curves, enjoy being a WOMAN. Be healthy and be confident," Kang urges in her post. "We have one body and one life, don't let your insecurities hold you back from happiness."