Naturally Tan: Review
I received a copy of Naturally Tan by Fab 5 member Tan France, and squealed my socks off. I mean, you must be living under a rock or something if you aren’t clued into the pop culture phenomenon that is the Netflix reboot of Queer Eye. France is the fashion and style guru that works so charmingly with each makeover recipient to ensure that their revamped style works with their lifestyle, rather than imposing the trendiest fashions on them. He has an honesty and warmth about him that you can feel through the TV screen, and this memoir exposes so much of France’s background and the experiences that have transformed him into the successful person that he is today. Note: I received an uncorrected proof for review purposes and all opinions are my own.
In this heartfelt, funny, touching memoir, Tan France, star of Netflix's smash-hit QUEER EYE, tells his origin story for the first time. With his trademark wit, humor, and radical compassion, Tan reveals what it was like to grow up gay in a traditional Muslim family, as one of the few people of color in Doncaster, England. He illuminates his winding journey of coming of age, finding his voice (and style!), and how he finally came out to his family at the age of 34, revealing that he was happily married to the love of his life--a Mormon cowboy from Salt Lake City.
In Tan's own words, "The book is meant to spread joy, personal acceptance, and most of all understanding. Each of us is living our own private journey, and the more we know about each other, the healthier and happier the world will be."
I’ll be honest- I may have been a bit biased when reading Naturally Tan- biased in the sense that I love Tan France and would read his napkin scribbles if given the opportunity. Along with Bobby, he’s my favorite of the Fab 5 and it’s precisely for the reasons that he gets into in his memoir- he stays true to himself and his heritage, and it comes through the screen.
The memoir is written in a train-of-though style and that’s definitely not for some people. In fact, within the first fifty pages or so, I wasn’t sure that the book was for me. While we start off in Tan’s childhood and progress towards his present-day life by the end of the book, there are many time skips and no clear chronological order of events. This can be jarring for some readers and as I mentioned earlier, it certainly was for me. But once I understood that it wasn’t going to be a “read every detail of my life” type of memoir, i got over that pretty quick.
The writing itself is a joy. Tan’s voice truly comes through, along with that English satire and sass. He is fresh and fun, and most importantly- conversational. Interspersed with his reflections are pieces of everyday advice when it comes to clothing, dating, and self-care. What I enjoyed most about this memoir is that Tan does not shy away from sensitive topics like racism and immigration, and is rather raw and real about them. It is refreshing to see this sort of acknowledgment and representation.
While it was fantastically interesting to read about the Queer Eye audition process, at the end of the day it seemed that much of his success seemed to land in his lap. His hard work is not lost on me, but he also had the good fortune of being intensely charismatic and knowing how to work the system a bit. I applaud that. You will enjoy this book if you are a fan of Tan France, whether you know him from his businesses or from Queer Eye. He has quite a strong personality, and if you aren’t familiar with it, then I can easily understand how he might come across as cocky in the memoir.