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14 Feb

Model Mia Kang's SI Swimsuit Issue Debut


A photo posted by Mia Kang (@missmiakang) on

We're pretty sure model Mia Kang is the only SI Rookie with a Mensa puzzle tucked into her work bag. The super-smart Korean beauty is a longtime fave, as evidenced by the fun Q+A below (complete with an incredible prediction for this year!), so we're thrilled that Kang is making her SI debut in the 2017 Swimsuit Issue, which drops today. While we adore her style and think she is, officially, the most gorgeous swimsuit model ever, what we really admire her for is the way she uses her visibility to speak out against issues she knows are socially relevent, like bullying and how models are represented in the media. Kang is sure to be buzzed about this week, so read up and learn why she's not your typical swimsuit model. 

If you want to see Mia in action, this video she made for our Bikini Diaries is a great window into her passion for anti-bullying. And make sure to read our Q+A with her below.

Full name: Christie Mia Kang — not many people know Mia is my middle name!

What's your absolute favorite beach in the world? I don't have a favorite anything! There's too much greatness in the world to have a favorite. The top beaches I've been to so far: Maldives, Philippines, the Windward Islands in the Caribbean. I really want to check out Jamaica, Brazil, Costa Rica and Hawaii. I want to see it all!

I know you're proud of your Korean heritage — what do you love most about it? I'm so proud to be Korean. I love the culture, the work ethic, the family values. And the youth of Korea are doing extraordinary things these days in popular culture, music, fashion, film and entertainment. Korean pride! Daehan Minguk!

I read that you plan to return to school to pursue your doctorate — what will you focus on? What's one thing in your field of study that people should know that they might not? This is a difficult for me. When I did my bachelors, I wrote one of my final dissertations on the philosophy of aesthetics. Whether there was such a thing as objective beauty. Throughout my career, entirely based upon aesthetics, I have learned and observed a lot, I think I could contribute to the field of aesthetics. I am a big nerd. I love math, I love science, I love economics. I love puzzles — I normally carry a book of Mensa puzzles around with me that I do when I'm bored. Something interesting about me is that I am totally obsessed with the North Korean dictatorship. I watch documentaries and read books about it all the time.


I read that you were bullied as a child. What would you say to a reader who's perhaps being bullied at this stage in her life right now? Keep your head up high, because this will pass. When you are in school you feel like school is your whole life and the end seems so far away. It is just a tiny part of your life. This is happening to you for a reason, to make you stronger to be a badass for the rest of your life. Keep your head down, stay cool, get the best grades ever. The best revenge is success. One day one of these bullies is going to walk into your office for a job interview, imagine that feeling. Ignore everyone else, just do you, and be the best you can be. I feel so passionately about anti-bullying. It happens throughout our lives. Keep your focus on yourself, never react, keep bettering yourself and don't even bother looking back at them.

How does being the daughter of academics change how you see the modeling world? I'm lucky to be in a position where I am modeling by choice — this is my chosen profession. The best thing I did in my life was get my education under my belt, and I have my father to thank for that. I think it makes me look at the modeling world in a way where I am slightly removed from it.

Favorite way to spend a lazy Sunday? Do you ever have a lazy Sunday? I'm not a lazy person. I just sit and laze around or flick through channels. I feel like I can be doing other things with my time and definitely feel there are not enough hours of the day. My father taught me to always be productive, always better yourself — whether it be physically, through exercise; mentally, through reading and learning; or emotionally, through socializing or pampering. A lazy Sunday for me would probably go something like this: wake up (I always set an alarm clock, even when I'm on vacation), workout, laundry, cleaning my apartment, catch up on emails and admin things, food and drinks with friends, a face mask and a bath, dance around my apartment listening to gangster rap, bed.

Most memorable suit you've ever worn (and the story behind it)? The red bikini from my Sports Illustrated 2016 shoot. You could see my nipples through that bikini! I went out on set and felt very self-conscious, but as the shoot started I really overcame some insecurities and emotional boundaries. I opened up, owned it and felt confident about myself. I think I grew as a person when I wore that bikini!

What's your workout? I get bored of routine very easily, so I change it every day from barre, Pilates, jogging, yoga, spinning, Muay Thai, kickboxing, HIIT. I believe in listening to your body and adjusting to what it's telling you.

Best quick DIY snack? Non-fat yogurt with goji berries and a drizzle of honey.

Fave bad-for-you snack? Oh goodness, how much time do you have? I love snacks. Chocolate, cookies, chips, Twizzlers, Haribo — you name it and I'll probably eat it.

Favorite beach read? I like to read non-fiction and biographies. I like to feel like I'm learning while I'm reading. Probably one of the many Stephen Fry biographies and/or a book about North Korean defectors.

If you could get on a plane and go somewhere right now, it'd be? Bali. I'm dying for some nasi goreng and a good surf.

Favorite beach food? Fresh coconut water and mango or papaya slices.

What's next on your bucket list? To make it into Sports Illustrated 2017. (EDITOR'S NOTE—This actually happened, obviously. Where are you with your bucket list?).

What's your best beauty tip? Keep your skin hydrated!

Signature scent? Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, or one of many Tom Ford scents, which vary depending on how sexy I'm feeling.

What is your go-to sunscreen? Always wear sunscreen, guys. Especially on your face. I put on SPF 30 every morning, rain or shine.