Susan Lieu’s “140 Lbs: How Beauty Killed My Mother”
written by Sofia Marie Bolido
Susan Lieu kicked off the national tour for her show “140 LBS: How Beauty Killed My Mother” in New York last October 17. I attended the event with a fellow Arts Ambassador, and it was our first time going to the Kraine Theater. We were pleasantly surprised seeing how intimate the venue was, which soon proved to be the perfect setting for Lieu’s performance. The seats filled up quickly, which was expected since there was already a line outside the venue prior to the doors opening.
The one-woman show, written by Lieu herself, was an incredibly honest and moving performance. There were no unnecessary frills, just Lieu on a stage with a foldable chair and a white projector used to show pictures and video clips. Her honesty and vulnerability while recounting her personal experiences as a first-generation, Vietnamese immigrant touched on various issues, such as the hardships immigrant families have to undergo to make ends meet and the inaccessibility of basic needs like proper healthcare. Most especially, Lieu’s performance made me think about societal pressures put on women to look a certain way. We were right there with her as she told us how she came of age and her experiences as she wrestled with the expectation to reach a certain number on a scale or clothing tag. We felt her deep turmoil as she tried to free herself of these pressures, while at the same time trying to understand why her mother gave into them, which is what ultimately led to her unfortunate death during a plastic surgery operation.
Lieu’s performance brought about an array of emotions. She made us laugh, especially with her personal anecdotes showing the unique culture in Asian families, and at the same time she shared the depths of sadness that came with the loss of her mother. Most importantly, she brought us hope. That there is a way out of this loss and heartbreak if one can learn to accept and forgive, and that it is through these that one can find the strength to soldier on. Lieu’s was definitely a story I could relate to in some aspects as an Asian immigrant trying to navigate through American society and as a young woman of color dealing with expectations from practically every social institution to look a certain way or act a certain way. It’s a story that I’ll carry around with me for a long time.
Susan was really sweet and wanted to take a Boomerang with us, since we were her first audience to kick off her tour. It could be found on her instagram if you follow this link https://www.instagram.com/p/B3xCKPcAaUN/