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Performance artist explores how ‘beauty’ killed her mother


This story originally aired on Nov. 9, 2019.  

Growing up in Santa Rosa, California, Susan Lieu’s mother, Jennifer Ha, was the glue that held her Vietnamese family together. 



"Mom was mega mom, she was super mom, right?” Lieu said.


Ha was the person who pushed to leave Vietnam. She was the one who sponsored other family members to join her in America. Ha provided work for her family when she opened up her nail salons.


“They were living that American dream and I would say, yes, it was led by mom,” Lieu said.


Ha died while undergoing plastic surgery when Lieu was 11 years old. After that, everything changed for Lieu, her father and her three siblings.


Lieu performs a one-woman show called "140 LBS: How Beauty Killed My Mother." The production chronicles Lieu’s efforts to get to know her mother better, and her desire to avenge her mother’s death.


In this story, Lieu shares her journey with us and how she was able to finally feel a connection to her mother so many years after she died.


Jennifer Wing is a former KNKX reporter and producer who worked on the show Sound Effect and Transmission podcast.