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Queer Eye's Tan France details being beaten up and left for dead in a racist gang attack


Tan France faced flashbacks to when he was beaten up and left for dead by racist thugs as he tried to film a new documentary on colourism.

The Netflix Queer Eye star, 39, was driving up the M1 to Doncaster when the memories came flooding back to him as he filmed, Tan France: Beauty & the Bleach.

During the new documentary, Tan will reveal how he bleached his skin at the age of just nine years old, after being ‘concerned’ about his skin colour ‘since the day he was born’.

Heartbreaking: Tan France, 39, faced flash backs to when he was beaten up and left for dead by racist thugs as he tried to film a new documentary, Tan France: Beauty & the Bleach

Heartbreaking: Tan France, 39, faced flash backs to when he was beaten up and left for dead by racist thugs as he tried to film a new documentary, Tan France: Beauty & the Bleach

It is the first time in 15 years the stylist had returned to the UK, but he pulled out of a visit to his hometown due to the race hate he received as a child. 

The presenter had been determined to see where he had grown up for a colourism and skin bleaching documentary, but was unable to take the motorway exit.

Tan explained how a gang of men had attacked him while he was on his way to school because he was Pakistani.

The reality star now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his husband Rob, 42, who he married in 2007, and their son Ismail.

So sad: It is the first time in 15 years the Netflix Queer Eye star had returned to the UK, but he pulled out of a visit to his hometown due to the race hate he received as a child

So sad: It is the first time in 15 years the Netflix Queer Eye star had returned to the UK, but he pulled out of a visit to his hometown due to the race hate he received as a child

While visiting the Uk, Tan said: ‘As an Asian, gay Muslim I was desperate to get away. I have been concerned about my skin colour from the day I was born.

‘Growing up in Doncaster I always felt unsafe. I thought if I had whiter skin I wouldn’t be called a P*** every day.

‘I used to wake up thinking, “What trouble is my skin going to get me into today?” It was about survival. Being able to get home without being attacked.’

Younger years: Tan explained how a gang of men had attacked him when he was five-years-old while he was on his way to school because he was Pakistani

Younger years: Tan explained how a gang of men had attacked him when he was five-years-old while he was on his way to school because he was Pakistani 

Tan went on to discuss the first time he bleached his skin at the age of nine due to being ‘ashamed of my ethnicity and colour’.

The TV star became aware of his skin tone as young as three or four and had access to bleach a few years later.

He continued: ‘When I was nine I stole my sister’s bleaching cream and did it behind a locked door. It really stung. And then it felt like really bad sunburn.

‘I did it again when 16 – ashamed of my ethnicity and colour. I know now bleaching is a form of self-harm.’

In the documentary, the star revealed that some UK clinics do bleaching intravenously using liver disease drugs which have the side effect of lightening skin.

Tan later spoke to singer Kelly Rowland who has spoken out in the past about colourism, which is a form of discrimination based on skin tone.

Kelly said: ‘My boyfriend’s gran compared the colour of my skin to a paper bag and said I was too chocolate.

Harder times: Tan went on to discuss the first time he bleached his skin at the age of nine due to being 'ashamed of my ethnicity and colour'

Harder times: Tan went on to discuss the first time he bleached his skin at the age of nine due to being ‘ashamed of my ethnicity and colour’

‘I was always described as the darkest one in the group. I wanted to be desired for my beauty. I wanted to be Mariah’s shade. I have been pushed to the brink by colourism.’

On This Morning earlier this week, Tan said he thinks a preference for lighter skin is due to ‘centuries of conditioning’ and he previously kept the fact he bleached his skin private.

He said: ‘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?’ 

‘I just thought, I need to find a way to date, to get a job, potentially a marriage.’

Documentary: The presenter hopes his new BBC2 show Tan France: Beauty & the Bleach will help kill the myth that white is better

Documentary: The presenter hopes his new BBC2 show Tan France: Beauty & the Bleach will help kill the myth that white is better

Discussing products that can be bought to lighten skin, he added: ‘It’s hard to decide where the problem lies, it’s centuries of conditioning teaching us there’s only one way to be successful. 

‘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.’ 

The presenter hopes his new BBC2 show Tan France: Beauty & the Bleach will help kill the myth that white is better. 

He added: ‘I hope to break the cycle that pushed me and thousands like me to bleach. And still does.’

Tan France: Beauty & the Bleach is on BBC2, 9pm on Wednesday.

Happier times: The reality star now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his husband Rob, 42, who he married in 2007, and their son Ismail

Happier times: The reality star now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his husband Rob, 42, who he married in 2007, and their son Ismail

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