Queer Eye is truly an amazing show. Every episode has me cheering, crying, and laughing all in the episode span of 40 minutes.
If you are unfamiliar with Queer Eye, it’s a show where a team of five gay men, also known as the Fab 5, surprise a nominated person and help them fix their life. Each of the Fab 5 has a specific job:
Antoni: Food and wine expert who teaches the nominee a dish
Photo Courtesy of New Yorker.
Tan: Fashion expert who gives the nominee a new “lewk”
Photo Courtesy of New York Post.
Bobby: Interior designer who renovates spaces for the nominee
Photo Courtesy of Fast Company.
Jonathan: The world’s most fun stylist who is in charge of hair and makeup
Photo Courtesy of EW.
Karamo: I had to look this one up, but, officially, he is the culture expert.
Photo Courtesy of The Atlantic.
One of the main messages that Queer Eye drives home is the importance of taking care of yourself. As Jonathan said, “Grooming is an act of self love.” For the longest time, I thought this was totally true. Of course I should invest the time and energy into doing things that make me feel better, like doing my makeup and decorating my room, because that’s self-love. When I watch the episodes and see the glowing joy of the nominee, I value the self-love mindset even more.
But recently, I’ve noticed a troubling trend. I watched an episode where the nominee was really struggling with self-acceptance. So what did the Fab 5 do? Antoni taught her how to make a boujee Vietnamese noodle dish in place of the ramen she was making. Tan bought her a bunch of new, stylish clothes. Bobby renovated her house and Jonathan gave her a haircut. Looking at all these changes I realized maybe the only transformation the Fab 5 do is not of mindset, but of money.
I think this is the central drawback of Queer Eye. I praise them for having the audacity to present LGBTQIA+ issues on the mainstream. But the show’s narrative arc implies that the way to transform yourself and live your best life is to buy things. This solution is literally impossible for so many people without an expendable income. This message that self-care is consumable limits who can love themselves, in a way that reinforces wealth disparity.
Queer Eye is still a great show. But they need to focus less on what money can buy and more on what the mind can do.