There’s more to Tan France than meets the eye.
From being bullied at school for his religious beliefs and the colour of his skin to landing the role of a lifetime and becoming a global sensation, Tan France gives a no-holds-barred account of his life to date in his just-released memoir, Naturally Tan.
Fashion Quarterly‘s Lucy Slight talked to the Queer Eye style star – here’s a few things she learned:
1. Opening up and sharing his life is harder than he thought
“It was hard but I saw this book as an opportunity for me to really give my take on what it’s like to be a person of colour and a person who is gay and a person of colour because it’s a story we haven’t really seen especially on such a large scale. I have the luxury of being on a global platform and have a much wider reach than other people who might have told their story before so I saw it as my responsibility to be as honest as possible. Was I worried that some people might take this book badly? Absolutely yes. Will some people be very offended? Absolutely yes. But it’s how I truly feel and I’m trying not to attack anyone when I say the things I’m saying, I just needed to speak honestly.
2. Queer Eye helped him with his own mental health
“It reminds me constantly to be kinder to myself. It’s such an American concept and I am very much English, but it’s something that the Americans really champion. Up until filming the show, I was a typical cynical Brit; like, “oh love yourself, get over yourself.” But now that I’m in it and I’m immersed in this culture, I’m reminded of how important it is and it does make me feel more positive and hopeful. I lived my whole life in the UK, up until 25, and we are more pessimistic as a people – it’s so nice to be on a show where I just get to talk about championing successes and championing positivity in people and finding ways to make yourself happy.”
3. Becoming a household name has been an adjustment
“Netflix is global and this is a fully global show, and there really is no escaping it – it’s a very strange feeling. At the end of the book, I talk about what it’s like to be famous and it’s a very honest account. People might think I’ve become a snotty little brat, but they don’t know that I’ve always been a snotty little brat! But it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. I’m really excited about fame but there are definitely hard parts.”
4. You can boost confidence through style
“This is going to sound so cheesy and so American, but it’s actually true: before getting changed, look in the mirror and accept that your body is your body. I practice this – it’s a conscious thing that I have to remind myself when I’m looking in the mirror getting ready. Yes, there are some areas of your body that you may not love. I don’t know anybody, even these ripped body builder dudes, who is looking at their body thinking, ‘my body is perfect’. Everybody feels that there’s something they don’t like. But accept it and just dress it in a way that’s going to make you feel the way you want to feel.
“My advice in the book is to dress for other women; don’t dress for men. I don’t love the idea of someone wearing something she thinks is sexy, just because she’s trying to be more desirable to men. You’re going to feel a lot better about yourself if you tell yourself, ‘this isn’t for a man that I’m dressing today, I’m dressing because I want to feel good about myself. I want to represent my style, and hopefully, other women will think it’s cute or cool’. But it’s not about looking desirable, it’s not about looking skinny.”
5. His biggest lesson in life is ‘think before you speak’.
“I have a way of running my mouth like no one else and I am very very very opinionated. I have learnt to take a beat and consider my answers or consider my comments before giving them. I’ve spent my whole life in a very South Asian community and we are very outspoken. We’re the type of people who say whatever we’re thinking; it’s a common trait in our culture. And so to untrain myself and to retrain myself to think before speaking has been the most important lesson. My words can have an impact on people and it’s very important that I use my words wisely because I’m not just speaking for myself anymore. That’s why I wanted to write the book because I finally get to say things my way and in the most considered way.”