Tan France bleached his skin at the age of nine after vile racist insults

·Contributor
·2 min read
Tan France has opened up about racism he experienced as a child in Doncaster. (Getty/CMT)
Tan France has opened up about racism he experienced as a child in Doncaster. (Getty/CMT)

Queer Eye presenter Tan France has confessed he tried to bleach his skin on several occasions as a child because he hoped it would prevent him from being subjected to racist abuse.

The star is fronting a new BBC documentary about colourism, entitled Tan France: Beauty & the Bleach, in which he explores issues around skin tone in the UK and in the fashion industry.

Read more: Leigh-Anne Pinnock discusses colourism in BBC doc

The 38-year-old fashion designer now lives in Utah in the States with his husband and son, but returned to his hometown of Doncaster while filming the documentary.

"Growing up in Doncaster I always felt unsafe. I thought if I had whiter skin I wouldn’t be called a P*** every day," he says in the film, reported via the Mirror.

Watch: Tan France says UK brushes racism under the carpet

He added: "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."

France said he was aware of the danger presented by his skin colour "from the day I was born" and stole bleaching cream from his sister as a nine-year-old.

Read more: Tan France said he suffered racism every day in Britain

"I did it behind a locked door. It really stung. And then it felt like really bad sunburn," he said.

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

Tan France now lives in America with his husband Rob. (Getty/IMDb)
Tan France now lives in America with his husband Rob. (Getty/IMDb)

The documentary features France examining the spread of skin lightening treatments in the beauty world and includes a segment in which he speaks to Kelly Rowland.

Rowland admits she struggled with being the darkest-skinned member of Destiny's Child and compared herself to the other women in the group.

Read more: Rochelle Humes received death threats amid colourism row

France said he hopes the documentary will help to "break the cycle that pushed me and thousands like me to bleach — and still does".

Tan France: Beauty & the Bleach airs on 27 April at 9pm on BBC Two.

Watch: Tan France on "formula-shaming" as he embraces fatherhood

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting