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Tan France: Beauty and the Bleach documentary discusses colorism and skin bleaching

Tan France, known for his role in makeover-series Queer Eye, explores his struggles with colorism and skin bleaching in his new BBC documentary, Tan France: Beauty and the Bleach.

France, who is originally from the Untied Kingdom, and born to Muslim Pakistani parents, moved to the U.S. when he was 24. 

“I love the Brits and I love coming home to the UK, but there are some very vocal racists who make it difficult for me to live there,” France said in an interview with The Independent. “The Americans know they are quite a racist country. They know racism is a real problem. However, in the UK we bury our heads in the sand and pretend it’s not an issue.”

France revealed to the Daily Mail that as a child, he felt immense pressure from his family to be lighter-skinned, and resorted to using skin bleaching cream when he was 10. 

“Colourism is everywhere and it’s not the same as racism,” France said in an interview with The Guardian. “It’s often within communities of color themselves that people are discriminated against based on the darkness of their skin, and it has lifelong effects of internalized shame.”

The documentary was inspired by the birth of France’s first child.

“It was thinking about how difficult his life might be because of his skin color. That’s when I knew this documentary had to happen,” he told The Guardian.

In the past, France has defended Meghan Markle amidst questions of the color of her child’s skin by a member of the royal family, Express reports. Drawing from his own experiences after the birth of his child, France commented that questions about a child’s skin color “is the most common question when a South Asian baby is born. And … when a royal baby is born.”

When his documentary was announced, people questioned if the lighter-skinned France was the best person to host the documentary  — to which France responds that colorism is pervasive and affects every person of color. 

His documentary is set to air on April 27, on BBC Two.

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