TITLE: Naturally Tan
AUTHOR: Tan France
PUBLISHER: Virgin Digital
GENRE: Autobiography, Memoir, Non-Fiction, LGBTQ+
RATING: 3.5/5 Stars
Growing up gay in a traditional South Asian family in South Yorkshire, Tan France could never have imagined he’d become part of a worldwide phenomenon. One of the few people of colour at his school, he experienced racist bullies, found solace at his grandad’s denim factory and eventually discovered his true calling at fashion college. Told with his trademark humour, for the first time Tan reveals the experiences that have made him the witty, compassionate man he is today.
From meeting the love of his life Rob (a Mormon cowboy from Salt Lake City) to juggling three demanding businesses, Tan charts the highs and lows on his path to Queer Eye. And of course he can’t help but pepper this book with fashion dos and don’ts. Full of candid observations about US and UK cultural differences, celebrity encounters, and behind-the-scenes revelations about Queer Eye, Naturally Tan gives us Tan’s unique perspective on the happiness to be found in being yourself.
What I Liked:
- I love Queer Eye and so getting to see the production of the show in more depth was really cool. The audition process especially was awesome to read about, it sounds like a lot of fun and a very interesting approach! I think reading more about the show, the fab five and Tan's experiences within Queer Eye was my favourite part of this book.
- I also liked reading about Tan's childhood, and it was interesting to read about the culture that he grew up in and how the fact that he was gay was not the only reason that he ended up feeling isolated in his community.
What I Disliked:
- The writing was not bad and felt very distinctly Tan, but there was a common theme in which Tan would ask a rhetorical question and then answer it a few times in a row repeatedly and that annoyed the heck out of me. I'll give an example: 'Were Tan's rhetorical questions repetitive? Yes. Did I want him to stop? Yes. Did it ruin my life? No.' The good news is that I read it all in his voice in my head, so the writing definitely contained the essence of Tan.
- For someone who is about promoting individuality and staying true to yourself, Tan France is very critical. He gives a variety of top tips on how men and women shouldn't dress, wear their hair, and behave in order to become sexier or more likeable. I'm not 100% surprised as he is the 'style' portion of the show and it is his job. But some of it felt unnecessarily harsh.
This was an enjoyable read - Tan France originates from England so I totally got his sense of humour, gripes about American culture and language and found a lot of his experiences relatable. Of course, I also learnt a lot about the South Asian community and culture, gay culture (something I have not really immersed myself in), Queer Eye and personal style. It's a shame that the writing was not as edited as I'd have liked and that some of the advice that Tan gave grated on me a little (there is nothing I love more as a women than being told how to dress and look by a man) but I think everything that Tan wrote was well-intentioned and fit well with the image of the show. I still love him and look forward to watching more Queer Eye when the new season hits!