Tan France, stylist and presenter on Netflix’s “Queer Eye,” shares his personal mission to take down the global beauty trend of skin lightening in “Beauty and the Bleach,” the latest installment of the award-winning FUSE DOCS franchise, premiering Wednesday, March 1 @ 9:00 PM ET/PT on Fuse and Fuse+. The premiere coincides with the United Nations’ Zero Discrimination Day, which celebrates the right of everyone to live a full and productive life-and to live it with dignity.
When Tan was nine years old, he did something he has regretted his whole life. He stole some skin lightening cream and began to bleach his own skin. Why? To escape racist bullying and the widespread prejudice against people that aren’t white. But also to please his South Asian community, who, according to Tan, see fair skin as a passport to the best jobs, careers, and marriage partners. This happened a long time ago in Doncaster, England, where Tan grew up, but he’s never quite managed to close the door on this difficult chapter in his life.
Skin lightening is not unique to the South Asian community, having grown into a multi-billion-dollar business. The trend exists in Black, Asian, and Middle Eastern communities around the world where light and white skin are in vogue, and darker tones are seen as undesirable. Tan sets out to unearth the truth about colorism-where you are judged not just on the color of your skin, but on the shade of it and its impact on black and brown people in his home country of Britain and beyond.
His journey starts in Los Angeles, with pop superstar Kelly Rowland, of ‘Destiny’s Child’ fame, who was once compared to the color of a brown paper bag by a boyfriend’s grandmother. While talking to others in Britain, he later meets someone who literally peeled off their own skin in their quest to be lighter. Tan’s own experience is central to his journey, returning to Doncaster to confront his demons and revisit a devastating chapter in his life.
Tan also explores the public perception of beauty and the broader issues behind his deeply personal experience, asking hard questions about the prevalence of colorism and what drives it – whether it’s communities, history or pop culture and advertising. He searches for solutions, hoping to break the cycle that pushed him, and thousands like him to bleach.
“‘In Beauty and the Bleach,’ Tan France bravely shares his early struggles to overcome racism and accept his identity in a society that values your looks more than who you are as a whole person. These are struggles reflected often in our FUSE DOCS, which shed light on the inclusivity challenges young, diverse people have today and their successes in combatting bias,” said Marc Leonard, Senior VP, Head of Content and Marketing. “We’re proud to share Tan’s mission to tackle public perceptions of beauty here on Fuse and hope to elevate the impact of his message of self-love and acceptance across our platforms on the United Nations’ Zero Discrimination Day.”
“Beauty and the Bleach” is produced by Cardiff Productions in association with Clockwork Films. Executive Producer is Narinder Minhas; Director and Producer is Heenan Bhatti
“Beauty and The Bleach” is the latest entry in Fuse’s Peabody and Emmy® award-winning FUSE DOCS franchise of documentaries making their U.S. TV premieres. The series spotlights young idealistic, and diverse people celebrating their cultural heritage and identity, confronting issues, and overcoming prejudice. Most recently, FUSE DOCS’ “End Of The Line: The Women of Standing Rock” was nominated for a 2022 News and Documentary Emmy Award. The doc was also named Best Broadcast Network or Cable Documentary TV Movie by the Hollywood Critics Association (HCA) TV Awards.
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