AMY EILEEN HAMM: Liv Hewson needs to leave the kids alone

I don’t care that actress Liv Hewson cut her breasts off in an elective double mastectomy. She’s nearly 30. Consenting adults can do whatever they’d like to do to their own bodies.

Hewson (who identifies with “they/them” pronouns) can go ahead and flaunt her garish scars at the 2024 Emmys, as she did this week, naked under her black blazer. British Vogue can then go ahead and claim that she “shone in genderless suiting” by doing so. What makes a suit “genderless” is a mystery to me, as is Hewson’s alleged “shining.” But again, I don’t care. She’s a grown woman and should be free to do as she pleases.

What I do care about, however, is when Hewson’s self-mutilation is marketed to girls and young women. And make no mistake—this is happening.

Last summer, Teen Vogue magazine ran an obsequious piece on Hewson that claimed the actress has “overcome the erasure of [her] humanity and existence to realize [herself] anyway...” The header photograph is of Hewson in a different black blazer, leaning just so on a settee to reveal the scarred remain of a breast, and a nipple that was cut to smaller size and relocated, encircled by a still-healing white scar. Underneath, the title: “Who’s Afraid of Liv Hewson?”—an apparent nod to Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Rather ironic since Albee’s famous play, as we know, is about a descent into delusion.

Teen Vogue says that their readers “range in age from pre-teens to the late twenties…” They claim to be “the young person’s guide to conquering (and saving) the world.” Just how a rejection of the female sex and the removal of healthy—and functional—tissue fits into this heroic vision is unclear to me as an adult. For pre-teens, it’s a reckless invitation into an ideology of lies.

It is despicable to tell young girls that harmful elective surgeries and the denial of being female are things that allow a person to “realize” themselves and—with no further efforts—become authentic and powerful, rather than deeply troubled and physically damaged, often irreversibly.

Extreme body modification is nothing new in our culture. It is mainstream—normalized. If anything, Hewson hasn’t modified her appearance even near to the extent that many celebrities and most social-media influencers have.

Women are at the point where they think that it’s abnormal to not have a butt the size of two half-watermelons. We can thank Kim Kardashian for this: she’s so popularized the “Brazilian Butt Lift” (BBL) that anything less than an enormous behind comes across (quite literally) flat. It’s boring and unsexy, or so we have been led to believe. Never mind that the BBL is the single most dangerous cosmetic procedure available (with a death rate of greater than one in 4,000)—thousands of women have decided that death is preferable to a small or normal-sized butt.

Correct me if I’m wrong in saying that no fawning Teen Vogue writer has ever preached to 12-year-old girls that Kim’s ass expansion was a heroic melding of her physical being with her true essence. We all recognize it for what it is: vanity and pressure to meet cultural beauty standards. Most adults also realize how injurious it would be to market this appalling plastic surgery to young girls.

So why do some people believe it’s okay to do so with Hewson’s double mastectomy? Gender ideology is the answer. Gender ideologues preach that everyone has a gendered soul that doesn’t always match their physical body; these people are, they say, “born in the wrong body.” By extension, they insist—wrongly—that extreme body modifications for gender reasons are brave and even necessary to prevent suicide.

When it comes to Kim’s butt aesthetic, it is culturally acceptable to discuss and critique the notion of beauty standards. We are allowed to say that Kim’s butt is gross. Or that Kim has unresolved mental health issues. It’s just an opinion—and one that we can explain to girls and young women without getting pilloried and censured. But with gender, discussion is not permitted. Challenging the “born in the wrong body” orthodoxy invariably gets one tarred, feathered, and relegated to the sub-class of humans known as The Cancelled.

Ideas are dangerous when we are not permitted to challenge or discuss them. Especially for impressionable youth: girls and young women rely on adults to guide them in developing their critical faculties. With Hewson’s self-mutilating mastectomy, children should not be led to believe that it was anything other than extreme plastic surgery undertaken by a troubled woman. Neither Kim’s ass nor Hewson’s flat chest are heroic.

In Teen Vogue, Hewson argued that “[w]hen people talk about gender-affirming surgery using words like ‘mutilation,’ that’s not very nice. Is that how you think about people who’ve had surgery for other things? It’s a disgust reaction, and I do not take disgust into account as a legitimate point of discourse.”

I would say to Hewson that her scars are far less disgusting than the pernicious ideology she proselytizes to vulnerable girls. And that I am under no obligation to “be nice” when I am trying to prevent girls and young women from following her down this dark path.

I don’t care what Hewson does to her body—just leave the kids alone.

Image: Title: liv hewson
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