Tan France advocates for diversity and inclusivity in the fashion industry and beyond. He has spoken out about his own experiences with racism and has used his platform to raise awareness about the challenges of people of colour. Tan is of Pakistani descent and has discussed issues related to racism, cultural identity and homosexuality in various interviews and platforms. He has shared stories about facing discrimination and stereotypes while pursuing a career in fashion. He often emphasizes the importance of representation and the need for more diversity in media and the fashion world.
In addition to his television work, Tan France has also authored a memoir titled “Naturally Tan,” in which he discusses his life, experiences, and journey to self-acceptance. I personally loved his book. Being of Indian descent and growing up in London, I can relate to what it was like to be brown in England. Indeed navigating cultural identity and sometimes feeling like we didn’t fully fit into the British or our own community has a lifelong impact. I recall my parents wanted us children to “fit in”, but essentially they wanted us to be Indian, specifically Hindu. It can make you more conscious of inclusion, and I love how Tan has used his position and platform. He has openly discussed experiencing racism and microaggressions while growing up in the UK, where he was subjected to prejudice based on his appearance and ethnicity, both in personal interactions and in the fashion industry.
As a coach, I was curious and in awe at how he talked candidly about personal growth and confidence. Finding his inner trust, his faith and embracing his identity over time. My parent’s generation, who came to the UK in the 1950s and 1960s, had adopted an attitude of turning the other cheek when faced with discrimination. My mother would say, “When you are on the outside, your only goal is wanting to be on the inside.” Except that we, the second generation of Indians, regarded ourselves as insiders. We were British citizens almost immediately. Great was my own need to integrate. At primary school, when I was the age of seven, during our weekly circle time, Mrs Booth, my class teacher, would ask us one by one what we’d had for lunch over the weekend. It was a question I dreaded as I remember listening to my English friends name typical British foods like roast beef, mashed potatoes, trifle, bread, and butter pudding. I feared this question every week, and every week I lied.
There was no way we had roti, dahl, and turnip subject. So, I fibbed every week and felt Mrs Booth caught on to my deceit, as my typical English meals got more extravagant and excessive every week. Essentially, l lived two lives, had two identities, and had two ways of being. I would talk about Top of the Pops at school, and home, I would watch Hindi films. Bollywood was our access to India. Masala movies, love stories, and family dramas kept us hooked, and we felt a part of India even though we were not physically there.
The complications of growing up struggling with being British and trying to live up to my parents’ Asian cultural traditions were troublesome and tiresome. As a British Indian, I believe my experience reflects the balancing act between the culture I was born in and the culture I was raised in. What is more, nobody is ever just one thing. Thus, these feelings of confusion and conflict around what could and couldn’t be said, in fear of being judged, affected my confidence about being different. I feared being rejected because of my difference. Therefore, I felt like I was constantly wearing a mask. As Carl Jung described, it was a “persona”, a guise, a pretext, the thing one presents to the world. This was the survival mechanism I intuitively picked up because growing up in London then was pure torture. There was always a comment, an incident, or an event reported on the news or witnessed, emphasizing that we were outsiders, not wanted, and not welcome.
“Naturally Tan” is a memoir written by Tan France, a British-Pakistani fashion designer, television personality, and one of the hosts of the popular show “Queer Eye.” The book was published in 2019 and offers readers a deeper look into Tan France’s life, experiences, and journey to becoming a well-known figure in the entertainment and fashion industries. In “Naturally Tan,” Tan France reflects on various aspects of his life, from his upbringing in the UK to his experiences as a person of colour, his struggles with self-identity, and his path to becoming a successful fashion expert. The book covers personal anecdotes and insights into his professional journey, shedding light on his challenges and triumphs.
The title “Naturally Tan” plays on his first name and also speaks to his natural skin colour, a significant part of his identity as a British-Pakistani individual. In the memoir, France addresses topics such as racism, cultural diversity, his coming out as gay, and his quest for self-acceptance. He also provides behind-the-scenes stories from his time on “Queer Eye” and his experiences working in the fashion industry.
“Naturally Tan” offers readers a candid and relatable account of Tan France’s life, showcasing his personality, humour, and the values he holds dear. It is an engaging writing style, and Tan inspires his readers to embrace their identities and celebrate their uniqueness.
To learn more about Tan France’s life and perspectives, this book provides insight into Tan’s journey and the lessons he has learned along the way.
Born on April 20, 1983, in England, Tan France’s real name is Tanveer Wasim Safdar. He has a background in fashion and has worked in the industry for years as a designer and entrepreneur. He co-founded the women’s clothing brand Kingdom & State and has also been involved in other fashion-related ventures.