Tan France is one of five TV personalities from the Emmy-award-winning Netflix show Queer Eye. He is the style expert who helps men (and sometimes women) rethink their wardrobe choices so that they can become the best versions of themselves in order to feel more confident and attractive. The clip below isn’t from Queer Eye, but it’s still perfect. Here, Tan is helping Hasan Minhaj, the host of Netflix’s Patriot Act, find an outfit for his first day of filming.
Tan was born in Pakistan and raised in Britain, so he’s very proper, understated, and just generally delightful. He’s my favorite part of Queer Eye, so I knew I was going to love reading his memoir—but wow, it exceeded even my high expectations.
I knew that Tan was Muslim, so I was expecting to hear about his strict upbringing. What I wasn’t expecting—but, as a person who also grew up in a strict religious setting, probably should have seen coming—was learning about his crazy acts of rebellion! No, he didn’t do drugs or stay out all night club hopping (clubs came later…). He just, you know, secretly flew across an ocean to make trips alone to New York WHEN HE WAS 17! That’s insane. If I ever found out my kids did that I would Freak. Out.
But despite being a little bit of a bad boy, Tan was, and still is, surprisingly conservative. I actually loved hearing about his very traditional, almost quaint, ideas about marriage, parenting, relationships, and fashion. I found myself relating to him a lot, and I can definitely see why he chose Utah as his place in the States to call home.
I also appreciated Tan’s real talk about filming Queer Eye, making money, and how fame has changed his life (and not always for the better). His day-to-day sounds glamorous…but a little stressful, honestly. I don’t know that I could put in all those hours of travel and nonstop interviews. And while having extra cash in the bank, of course, is great, it’s very apparent that money puts a strain on relationships, especially if other people feel entitled to what you’ve earned. Tan always comes across as grateful, but it’s clear that becoming famous has been an adjustment for him.
One last thing that was eye-opening for me… It absolutely broke my heart to hear how desperately Tan wished he were white when he was younger. I’ve heard similar stories from other people in non-white cultures, but it still killed me to think of this spirited and unique little boy hating himself for his skin color. It’s terrible that people experience that feeling.
Thankfully, reading this memoir gave me some comfort. I’m so glad that Tan is on TV, representing a very non-mainstream group, and sending the message that it’s possible for a gay Pakistani kid to be happy and successful in this world.
In short, Naturally Tan is a wonderful memoir. Tan has lived a very interesting life, and I was more than happy to get a glimpse into his journey. I highly recommend reading this one.
Big thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the ARC!