Book Review: 'Naturally Tan' By Tan France.

I'm back with another incredible read from one fifth of the Fab 5. Today it's Tan's turn and my goodness, if I thought I couldn't love Tan anymore, I was very very wrong. 


'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.'
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.

My Review

Within the first few sentences, I loved Tan's narrative in telling his story. His voice and his humour shines through and there were moments when I laughed out loud and nodded along with what he was saying. For example, the odd differences in American words and English words had me in stitches because I've been in many of those situations. 'Check the box' had me giggling so much as I could picture Tan's face and hear his frustration grow. It very much felt like he was there telling me his story and I always love that with books. It gives you this sense of warmth and connection and like you're not alone; like the book becomes your best friend for a few hours and that always makes me smile. I actually read this in a day because I didn't want to put it down, I wanted to keep listening to Tan. 

I knew I had to read this book when I read the blurb and the quote on the back. The part where Tan says "the more we know about each other, the happier and healthier the world will be." I think that is an incredibly beautiful way to look at things and is a fine example of what the Fab 5 do on Queer Eye. They don't judge people, they go in with an open mind and they radiate positivity and love and you get to see people flourish because of this. Learning about Tan's childhood and reading about the bullying he had to go through will make your blood boil. For me, I couldn't fathom how people could be so cruel and it made me teary imagining him in those situations. It gave me a great understanding of how he became the person he is today and also made me want to do more, to be better and ensure that I am even more aware of what goes on around me. From being out and about on the street to being on the school playground, I want to do my part in making sure no one has to go through what he did. Tan talks about visibility and when reading his story you gain an even deeper understanding of how important it is to take the time to get to know people rather than judging them by the way they look. That is just one of the reasons every one needs to read this book. 

In addition, I felt so inspired getting to learn about how Tan started his businesses. I was always intrigued hearing about him being behind the camera for so many years, so it was fun to dive in and see what he did. You can't help but feel motivated by what he achieved and by how much work he put in. While I didn't have quite as many jobs as Tan, I have had my fair few in trying to figure out what I ultimately wanted to do and also, of course, just to pay the bills. I admired how he went after what he wanted and how he continually moved forward in his search to find his happy. Maybe this is me being nosy, but I'd love to see Tan's sketches and drawings because I think it's awesome that he designed 50's inspired swimsuits for women, among other pieces. When he talks of how his husband packaged up all the orders and had to ship them and how he would go on trips to check the samples and how they were working from their living room, one it made me smile how much of a team they were and how they had each other's back, and two, it inspired me to keep going no matter what. I liked reading about his work ethic but also how he learnt to step back and be vulnerable when things got too much. 

Furthermore, Tan talking about his husband Rob is a romance novel just waiting to happen. I don't think I stopped smiling as I read about their meeting for the first time and how their love has grown and only gotten stronger over the years. You can just feel their chemistry bounce off the pages through the beautiful stories Tan shares. The two of them will make you believe in love and fairy tales and I think that is a gorgeous thing. And while I know all relationships are different, I think the advice Tan gives on a healthy relationship are rather wonderful. Communication, respect, making each other laugh, having the same values and morals as your partner are all so important and it's hard to come away not feeling like Tan and Rob are goals!!!

I love, love, love hearing about the 'Queer Eye' auditions. Picturing those moments where people meet for the first time and it's like the universe has done this magical job of connecting these people who were meant to find each other just makes me ridiculously giddy and happy. Having Tan explain the process and how he met Karamo, Bobby, Jonathan and Antoni just filled my heart with joy. The fact that Tan had never been on camera before but how all these little moments came in to play where someone called upon him to audition and then having Rob encourage him to go for it, again it felt like the magic of the universe connecting the dots. I loved that Tan was very open in expressing his nerves and fears too when being on camera for the first time and how he had many doubts. It shows that we can still be fearful, that we can still worry and that we can all have down moments, but we can get through them. It shows that we don't have to be perfect in order to achieve our dreams, that often there are so many stumbling blocks, that we will make mistakes and we will need to reach out to others and ask for help to find our rhythm. 

This book is a delight. It has moments of heartbreak and of struggles but I believe those moments are important, that they need to be read and heard in order for us to be better. "Naturally Tan" is also warm, inviting and full of love, hope and humour and I highly recommend you give it a read.  


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