How the Queer Eye Fab Five Are Handling Quarantine
Just when we need it most, they're here to make everything (a little bit) better.
These days, we're all in need of some motivational words. So last month, in the middle of quarantine, we caught up with the experts in positivity themselves: Queer Eye's Fab Five. Known for inspiring the local heroes that they help each season, the stars — Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, and Jonathan Van Ness — had tons of useful advice for navigating the COVID-19 pandemic in a safe, productive, and healthy way. Of course, they also had plenty to say about the trends that have taken hold during quarantine, from tie-dye sweats to banana bread, as well as the future of their respective fields. Scroll down for their thoughts, and for more stories like this, pick up the July issue of InStyle.
Tan France on Fashion
On a recent hike, I ran into a friend, and I missed being able to hug her. I'm used to touching people all the time because I'm getting them dressed. It's hard. I've been quarantining in Salt Lake City with my husband [Rob] and have just been taking things one step at a time. In the morning I put the kettle on, make breakfast, and start my workout. And then I get dressed, which makes me feel better. I've always said that clothes should make you feel a certain kind of way, and even if nobody else is seeing you, you're doing it for yourself. When I look in the mirror, I still want to see the "me" that I'm happy with. I'm not wearing a three-piece suit right now, but I still put on my nicest sweats or my softest button-ups. I want to look somewhat presentable for Zoom calls — even though I'm often wearing pajamas on the bottom, which I always own up to. I think the quarantine will make us all reconsider what we buy in the future. People understand the value of money now more than ever, and I hope they spend less on fast fashion and invest in classic pieces instead. I think retailers will be more aware of what they're producing too. I don't think they'll put as many trends out in the coming months, because trends don't mean much right now.
Speaking of which, I like tie-dye just fine, but I don't understand how it became the thing of quarantine. The Pillow Challenge that took over Instagram was creative too. It's wonderful that people are using fashion as an escape. When this is over, I'm really looking forward to going a little extra. I think everyone will step it up the first few weeks back in the office. But for now, getting dressed makes me feel like I'm putting some thought into what I want to achieve that day. Even though there's a lot going on, it's important to me. It reminds me of the advice we give the heroes on our show, and at this point, I'm going to practice what I preach.
Karamo Brown on Culture
My quarantine started off in disbelief. Everyone else was working out and TikToking, but I didn't get out of my robe for over a week. I was very confused and eventually realized that I was actually experiencing grief. I was grieving the normalcy of what life used to be, but I wasn't giving myself enough room to process it. Once I understood that, I made a schedule for myself. Having the power to create structure through a routine helps me feel better. Even though I don't have anywhere to go, I set my alarm for 7:30 a.m., walk my dogs, and give myself the chance to veg out and look at social media. Then I cut myself off from that. It's beautiful to log on and escape for a bit, but it also creates a false sense of reality.
I've gotten DMs from people saying, "I don't want to be mad at anybody else for having certain luxuries, but I'm struggling right now and I don't know what to do." I encourage everyone to evaluate their emotions when they're on social media. If you find yourself feeling more anxious, jealous, or frustrated, then you need to log off.
I've also seen memes like, "See which friends are checking in with you during quarantine, because those are your real friends." No! People need to stop putting benchmarks on what friendship means based on how someone communicates with them right now. It's selfish and narcissistic. Maybe I'm going through something and I don't know how to be there for you. It's just a weird time, and we're all missing human connection. On top of that, not everyone feels the same way about the pandemic. But instead of cussing out a person you see without a mask, protect yourself. Be responsible for your own actions and be open to having difficult conversations. Don't take on the stress of feeling like you have to change someone else's point of view. And remember: Things are hard right now, but they will be better tomorrow.
Jonathan Van Ness on Hair
In turbulent times, I always rely on "Supermodel Documentary Hour" from Molly Shannon's movie Superstar to cheer me up, so it was only natural that I ended up doing a photo shoot with full hair and makeup in the yard by myself. It's just funny and makes me feel better. Taking care of my hair also makes me feel good. I've been doing a lot of moisturizing treatments and letting it air-dry. I've put the hot tools down and relearned how to braid it too. It's a great time to play with anything temporary, like flowers in your hair or colorful hair chalk that washes out. Or pull up that YouTube tutorial, order some mousse, and give yourself a gigantic round-brush blowout. Very few people are going to see you right now, so why not experiment? Think about what you want your look to be when we all come out of this, and if you're planning a massive transformation, start small.
I know a lot of people want to get their kitchen beautician on, but it can be an expensive mistake when you shave the side of your head to look like Rihanna. The celebrities you see making huge changes to their hair at home have thousands of dollars at their disposal to fix what goes wrong. It's all smoke and mirrors and Photoshop, and it creates unrealistic expectations. But I can guarantee that no hairdresser is going to be hurting for business after this!
So many of us are experiencing a new and more important relationship with money. A Sephora shopping spree might not look the same right now, but that's OK. You're allowed to stop hustling, take care of yourself, and mourn life as we knew it. There have been several times I've needed to be alone, but I've been getting involved with more charities, which has felt good. I even officiated the wedding of a sweet couple over Zoom one day. It's nice to bring people some peace through all of this. We're all just doing the best we can.
Bobby Berk on Interior Design
No one's life is perfect, and if one positive thing has come out of this, I think it's that people are finally being real on social media. That whole façade of influencers who share snapshots of their beautiful travels is too hard to keep up now. I've spent my time getting back into Legos, playing guitar, and creating content for my website. Everyone wants to know how to make their work-from-home space better, and I say, "Get rid of stuff." I've been going through my clothes and donating them to people in need. We have nothing but time right now to organize and take inventory. Since we're all stuck at home, a lot of us are realizing how our surroundings have a huge effect on how we feel. I've still been shocked by the number of times I've gotten on a Zoom call and the background is just a mess! If you can't get in the mindset to clean, put up a virtual background. My team and I created our own virtual wallpapers, and one of them is actually a picture of my home office, so you can put that up as your backdrop. That way it's always clean and professional. Plus, people don't need to see your home; it's your private space.
The hardest thing about working from home is separating work life from personal life. You have to divide your office area, even if it means just using a tray to put your laptop on while you work from your bed. When work is over, put that tray away so you don't think about it anymore. It's important to take care of our mental health. As soon as we're able to start seeing our friends and family again, even if it's 6 feet apart, it's going to have such an effect on our spirits. Those endorphins are going to fly, and this rut we're in will go away thanks to the magic of interaction.
Antoni Porowski on Food
Cooking is a calming form of self-care for me. Before I started traveling for Queer Eye, I used to make meals seven days a week in my Brooklyn kitchen. So many people have been leaning into food now, and it's been interesting to see what they're making. I love my banana bread, but that trend was a surprising one! People have also been making loaves of bread from scratch and recipes like Bolognese that they've always wanted to learn. On the other hand, there's been a huge spike in comfort foods like Kraft mac and cheese too. At the beginning of quarantine, I had dreams of making complex dishes and stews, but I'm currently in Austin [Texas] and not in my own kitchen. So with only two sauté pans, I've had to get creative. Plus, a lot of ingredients weren't available at that point.
Going to the grocery store is one of my favorite hobbies, so that's one thing I've really been missing. Every two weeks I go and stock up on produce and protein. I'm not a planner, so I decide day-of if I'm feeling cauliflower pizza or a crispy-skin salmon for dinner. When I don't feel like cooking, I order takeout. Although I have yet to have bad Tex-Mex delivery, I really miss walking into a restaurant with music and lighting and changing menus. Restaurants will look different for a while, and we'll have to adapt to that. But I know that we'll never take them for granted again.
Season 5 of Queer Eye is now streaming on Netflix.