Lachlan Watson On Their Top-Surgery Scars, Visibility, & Self-Care

Photo: Courtesy of Tyrell Hampton/Unilever.
If you don't know Lachlan Watson yet, it's time to start paying attention, because the 18-year-old actor is on the brink of their biggest year yet. Watson, who plays Theo on Netflix's teen drama Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, just partnered with Unilever for the brand's latest initiative, United We Stand. The campaign pairs six grassroots, non-governmental organisations with LGBTQ+ voices and allies to raise awareness about the lack of accessibility of beauty products in the queer community.
Watson, who plays a transgender character on screen, identifies as non-binary, and describes their queer journey as one separated into three parts. (Watson previously came out as a lesbian, then a transgender man, and now identifies as NB.) Officially in Act Three, Watson sat down with Refinery29 to discuss working with Schmidt's Naturals and the Trans Justice Funding Project to shine light on the importance of self-care in the LQBTQ+ community, as well as their top-surgery scars and the major impact that self-care rituals can have on mental health. The following interview was told to Samantha Sasso and edited for length and clarity.

The Freedom Of Scars

I've been waiting for the chance to be free. [That Instagram post] was the very first time I showed my scars. I wanted to wait until I was 18 and I had a voice so no one could say anything. I was terrified about posting, but it was this moment of vulnerability that I found really empowering. It's something I'm working on embodying within myself: Strength through vulnerability. Now, like, 8 million people have seen that post — which is a little overwhelming.
I've never seen my scars as something to hide. They’re seen as flaws; any form of imperfection is seen as wrong. Just like a blemish is something to be covered, any scar is something to be faded. You’re always asking, How do you get rid of that? That never felt right.
I remember looking into top surgery when I still identified as trans and every trans guy showed me their Pinterest board of tattoos to cover up their scars. I had this idea in my head to get a tattoo of a tree and the branches would cover my scars. But how is a scar different from a tattoo? To me, it’s art. The tattoo I want to get now is a moth bridging the two scars together. I want that to be a part of me because I don’t feel like my scars are something to hide.
I’ve always loved getting scars. Whenever I’d fall riding my bike, I’d wonder if it would leave a scar. I was so excited I’d get to remember that forever because I’d have it on my body. The older I got, the more I was surrounded by this blemish culture. I had those moments when people were asking what creams I’d use to hide my scars. My scars are hilariously uneven — one is faded and the other is bright purple. Everyone would ask if that’s okay with me, but why wouldn’t it be? It’s just how it happened.

Self-care shouldn't be gendered — it should be accessible to everyone.

Theo's Buzzcut Liberation

I helped motivate that physical transformation for Theo. Robert [Aguirre-Sacasa, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina creator] and I really pushed for that G.I. Jane, shaved-head moment. It's not only a relatable queer storyline, but it's a universal storyline about going through an emotional change and signifying it physically; that could be a shaved head, dyed hair, or anything that is different, but comfortable. It connects you to who you’re trying to be and where you’re trying to get.
Going bald is like starting over. It's that idea of getting back to your roots and nurturing the part of your soul at your core. Shaving your head is so representative of that and I'm so glad I got to show that, especially when a shaved head is sometimes seen as a way for someone to try to be edgy or trying to make a statement. I’m not trying to be anything — I just am who I am and this is how I can represent that best.

Self-Care Is A Human Right

It's been really nice allowing myself to live in this free space where I'm not taking things from myself anymore. I realised that, when I identified as trans, there were so many things I took away from myself. I would not let myself cross my legs because none of the men in my life cross their legs. I wouldn't let myself wear the colour pink.
I love makeup. Makeup was what I wanted to go into professionally before I got back into acting. When I was trans, I thought I wasn’t allowed that because I had to be this perfect male. In reality, even if you identify as male, those are things that should be perfectly accessible to you because it doesn't matter. Makeup, the clothes you put on your body, the colour you choose to wear, the colours you just look good in — that's not inherently gendered.
Photo: Courtesy of Tyrell Hampton/Unilever.
My hygiene was abysmal when I was a trans guy because I thought guys didn’t wash their faces — but I like washing my face, I like having clear skin. Is it a female thing to want to feel comfortable in your own skin? Noticing that cage I was putting myself in helped me get to the place where I am now: I'm non-binary. I don't feel like those things should affect me. I don't want to steal from myself anymore for the sake of upholding this image.
Self-care shouldn't be gendered or determined by who you are, your biology, or your identity — it should be accessible to everyone. Health, comfort, self-care, self-love, and self-priority are things that should be universal. You shouldn't be terrified when you walk in the cosmetics aisle. You shouldn't feel pressured to go to the men's section or buy that moisturiser because it has blue packaging instead of pink floral packaging. It's about what works for you and what works for your skin — that should be the priority. I think that's something that Schmidt's Naturals does really well. It's something I'm trying to promote just as a person: Who are you at your core level and how can you accentuate that through self-care products?
I hope this is the start of something bigger. Stories like these are so important — they don’t get told enough. I've never seen myself reflected back on a commercial; I've never related to a single person onscreen in my life. The fact that a brand like Unilever would care as much as to be that representation for someone and to lend me that platform is surreal. It feels like something to look forward to. It's hard to grasp, but it feels incredible. It feels like hope.

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