“Queer Eye” star Tan France appears supremely confident in the Netflix reality hit but in his new memoir, he admits he wasn’t always that way.
In his book, Naturally Tan, the 36-year-old writes about stealing skin-bleaching products from his cousin at age 10, because he desperately wanted to be white.
“I haven’t had the balls to tell her I took it because, since then, I’ve been ashamed of the fact that I succumbed to the pressure,” he writes, as excerpted by Refinery 29.
“I kept the dirty little secret to myself,” writes France, whose parents are Pakistani. “I’d only use it at night, before bed, when no one else was going to catch me. Let me tell you, that s**t hurt.”
Looking back, he tries to understand his obsession with wanting to be Caucasian. “The importance of being pale is very bizarre,” writes France. “When I was five, I remember thinking, ‘God, I’d give anything to be white. I just want to be white, I want to be white, I want to be white.’ I had been so conditioned to think that if you were white, you were automatically more attractive.”
He also believed that being white would keep him safe from harm. “I had another dream as a kid, which angers me now,” he continues. “But I’ve talked to many friends of colour who have told me they shared the same dream, and that is to wake up white. I first had that dream when I was very, very young, because I worried constantly that if I went outside the house, bad things would happen to me.”
However, France writes that he’s long since conquered his childhood insecurities. “If you ask me what my favourite thing about my appearance is, I’ll say my skin,” he writes. “I think my skin colour is beautiful. As a 10-year-old, I could never have imagined that you could find my skin colour beautiful, and I’m willing to bet most non-white people have thought the same thing.”
Naturally Tan is in bookstores now.