Tan France says he was the victim of a horrifying assault when he was a young child just old enough to attend kindergarten.
France recently sat down with ITV’s “This Morning” and opened up about how racism and colourism have impacted him. The “Queer Eye” star said that he was viciously assaulted by a group of men when he was only a child.
“It’s the reason I don’t live in the UK now. I was 5 walking to school and on my own. My mum was working, my brother who would normally go to school with me was sick,” France said, via Daily Mail. “A group of men beat me and left me for dead and it was purely because I’m Pakistani and in England.
“It was common, it happened very regularly. Part of the reason I wanted to bleach was that people wouldn’t realize I was Asian.”
The “Queer Eye” star also shared how he bleached his skin earlier in life as a consequence of colourism.
“I could get access at 9. I could get access,” France said. “I was aware of my skin tone from three or 4-years-old and was like, ‘oh I’ve got to sort the problem out.’
“I only did it for a couple of weeks and then I did it again when I was older. I was a little bit darker than other members of the family. People will look at this and think, ‘He’s light what’s his problem?’ But it’s all around you.”
France detailed the difference between racism and colourism.
“Racism is when you are attacked or judged based on your race,” France explained. “Colourism is within your own community and how light or dark you are. If you’re light you’re perceived as more worthy.”
France admitted he was embarrassed to open up about his skin bleaching. He also suggested that skin-lightening products are a consequence of systemic issues.
“I didn’t mention it publicly because I didn’t want people saying, ‘Wait, are you ashamed of your skin? Do you think people with darker skin aren’t as worthy?'” he said. “I just thought, I need to find a way to date, to get a job, potentially a marriage.”
“It’s hard to decide where the problem lies, it’s centuries of conditioning teaching us there’s only one way to be successful,” he said. “We can’t really blame the industry for providing this product. There are places in Africa and the Philippines where they will get whatever they can, literal bleach from a toilet.”