TikTok Mom-Daughter Duo Gym Tan and Mya Miller Want to Redefine Aging

Courtesy of Mya Miller
Courtesy of Mya Miller

Where I'm From: Now and Gen features in-conversation pieces between generations — like a younger woman and her grandmother — discussing a topic like beauty rituals, finances, or marriage. For our first installment, we caught up with Gym Tan and Mya Miller, a fan-favorite mother-daughter duo you've probably seen on your TikTok FYP. Read their candid chat about aging below.

Following a decades-long career in Asia, former fashion executive Gym Tan moved from Hong Kong to California in her mid-50s. After months of struggling to find a similar gig in the industry (and during the pandemic, no less), her daughter, Mya Miller, a content creator at the time, convinced her mom to post her first TikTok video. Then, in 2021, Tan completely reinvented herself at age 61. And as you may have seen on TikTok, on Instagram, and in global brand campaigns, the mother-daughter duo now share their effortless style, genuine friendship, and Singaporean heritage with their followers.

"Mya put me onto the social media journey because she saw that I wasn't operating at my full potential," Tan tells POPSUGAR. "I was like, 'Who wants to listen to someone in her 60s?' and then she said, 'Old people are fashionable.' It was such a funny conversation." Three weeks after her first TikTok, an OOTD, Tan had over 10,000 followers.

Tan has been candid about the joys of aging and never being "too old" to start anew. Her attitude has inspired not only her hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, but more importantly her own daughter. And as women of Singaporean heritage who grew up in Asia, both Tan and Miller understand the extra burden APIA women so often face due to societal pressures.

Below, Tan and Miller discuss why we need to rebrand "aging"; the pressures of figuring out life by a certain age; and the life lessons they've taught each other.

On Reinventing Yourself at Any Age

Gym Tan: I thought having the career I had in Asia, I could easily translate that into life in California. I actually had a lot of apprehension coming into my 60s, thinking, here I am struggling in my 50s. It's only going to get worse. I'm going to age out of my business. But social media was just so welcoming, and suddenly, in the last two years, I have totally reinvented myself. I've used all my past career experience and expertise and put it into my content.

Mya Miller: For me, it was also incredibly helpful and inspiring. It's so interesting because I understand why so many girls my age or women in their 20s and 30s are all so drawn to our content. It's not just people your age, but it's people my age. When I graduated college, I moved to New York immediately. I was working at this PR agency, and a year into it, I was like, I hate my job. I don't like living in New York. I was spiraling because I thought that I had it all figured out and this was always my plan in college. I was like, am I supposed to be miserable for the rest of my life?

But I see my mom reinvent herself at 63, so I'm like, I've got time. It's all gonna be OK. Just because I'm not working at a PR agency anymore and not working a 9-to-5 doesn't mean that life isn't for me in the future. I'm much more at peace now with being OK with not having it all figured out and knowing that things will always be changing.

On the Fear of Aging

GT: The fashion industry is super competitive and borderline toxic. Because they're always second-guessing you, you're not the demographic anymore. "Do you actually know what girls my age or men my age want to wear?" There's always that pressure, so I was beginning to feel that way.

I think what is a bigger topic is the terminology. Even when we say "aging," it's always negative. Only a few years ago, I thought of aging as something negative. But when I actually stepped into that area, I stopped thinking about my age and aging. I just think about healthy living. That switch — how can we promote that? It's eating healthy, having that mindset that I'm not aging. I'm not getting older; I'm just continuing with my life.

"I was kind of afraid of aging. Then I turned 60, and then I turned 61, 62, 63, and suddenly, I'm not afraid anymore."

I actually think I'm aging backwards in some way because I feel younger, more vibrant. I was kind of afraid of aging. Then I turned 60, and then I turned 61, 62, 63, and suddenly, I'm not afraid anymore because I don't really see any difference. In fact, I just see the benefit and I see myself actually growing.

MM: I'm honestly excited to be in my 30s. I feel like the 20s are just chaotic — in my brain, there's fires always — so I feel like everyone has great things to say about their 30s where it's just more calm and you have more figured out, so I'm actually excited. I'm excited because I see my mom.

Even with all the other influencer friends and people in this industry, everyone is my age, but people love hanging out with her. She stays out later than me, she's getting drinks with so and so, and I'm like, OK, slay. I think what is really inspiring is your attitude. You see hanging out with younger people as a way to keep an open mind and you're very with the trends. That's what I'll be like too hopefully.

GT: Hanging out with younger creators and new friends that I've built, I feel that I'm learning from them and they're learning from me. It's actually very mutually enjoyable because we have great conversations. I want to learn from them. I want to hear how they do things. I definitely am a mom figure, but at the same time they do love hanging out with me because I'm not telling them what to do and I'm not like, it's late.

Courtesy of Mya Miller

On the Pressures Asian Women Face

MM: Growing up in Hong Kong, the schools, the rigor, [there was] the pressure to be an A-plus-plus-plus student. For me, I was never put that pressure on by my parents, but it was really my school and my peers. I always knew deep down that I was not the best student. I was a very average student, but in Asia, that's like, you're the worst. I always knew that I was never gonna be a doctor, lawyer, or consultant. I was always going to be something creative, but I never even had the opportunity to explore what that could have been because it's not really offered. I think it's just so funny to have that pressure come full circle. All my friends went to Ivy League colleges and I went to University of Oregon, which is great school, but even that shame carried through.

GT: But we didn't put that pressure on you.

MM: No, you never put that pressure on me. But the funniest thing is to see where we are now. I'm doing this random social media thing that has me traveling all over the world, working with my mom. I have these amazing opportunities. My friends now in consulting are miserable. Upon reflecting, it is so interesting this pressure that I felt living in Asia.

I do think working at a PR agency and especially being in New York, in this creative space, I really did notice that it's improving. Maybe it's because I like to surround myself with cool, inspiring AAPI people, but I think that if you look for it, you can find [the community].

GT: I had a totally different experience because of the generational difference. Fortunately, I was the third girl [in my family]. I had two older sisters and they took a lot of pressure off me, but my mom literally looked at me and was like, why aren't you like the other two? I had a lot of pressure because I was really different. I did not conform. From very young, I was asking for what I wanted and my mom was going, "What the heck is wrong with her? She's supposed to just listen, be like the other girls." She really struggled with me and I struggled with my mom. There was no pressure put on me at all because my mom thought that I was going to amount to absolutely zero. I had to figure out who I was on my own because my mom was sending me the worst signals.

On Finding Love by a Certain Age

MM: My mom didn't meet my dad until 37, and you had me at 39. All my friends are like, oh my god, I'm never gonna find the one, and I'm like, guys, we have so much time. It's all fine. I look to my own example, which is my parents.

GT: I also have to say that both me and your dad, we were married prior. I did get married in my 20s. Everything has a season. So I think getting married in my 20s wasn't a mistake. But in hindsight, if I knew I was going to meet my husband later, I think I wouldn't have felt like that was the right decision, and same for my husband.

You see right now, [there's] "The Golden Bachelor." My friends are getting remarried in their 50s. This is just life. Yes, it's a little bit out of what everyone says is their normal. It's less and less unusual for people to realize that they made a mistake and then find someone else later when they know themselves better, when they love themselves more and can therefore find the right person to love them back in the way that they want.

On the Life Lessons They've Learned From Each Other

GT: The biggest life lesson I learned from Mya is a lesson for myself, but she's the one who taught me that lesson. And that is that I am enough. I always had the brand, I always had the team, I always had all these things around me. Even though you're at the center of it, I grew up giving credit to everybody. But in social media, I am my team. So realizing that I can do all this by myself. It's narcissistic, but it is about me. By me having to strip away everything, just come forward, and be who I am. It's given me so much more confidence. It's given me a lot of wisdom, which I think I'm able to pass along.

MM: That was very beautiful.

GT: And being able to do it as a family, that's the ultimate bonus. So thank you, Mya.

MM: You're welcome. Teamwork!

GT: Teamwork makes the dream work.

MM: For me, aside from the open-mindedness and always being willing to try something new, I love my mom's attitude toward life. She gets a lot of questions about, "Why does your skin look so good? What's your workout routine? Your diet?" And my mom, to me, she relays, "It's not about my skin care, my diet, my exercise. What is keeping me happy, motivated, aging backwards is just that I value being happy and the little things." She's always had an abundance mindset, that everything good is coming to me. Even when we've gone through times of financial hardships as a family, my mom's like, "It's gonna work out. It's gonna be OK." My dad's the stressed one, so we had a good balance, but I think this attitude towards life is something that I always want to encompass forever. Just to be happy, mindful, spiritual, down to earth.

GT: Happiness is also a choice. You can control it because it's just not letting things get you down. I always see the other side of what is possible and I don't let the negatives bog me down. I think the positive attracts positive.