The 1 Lesson From 'Queer Eye' Season 3 I Hope We Never Forget
April 05, 2019
There I was, on the subway snuggled in between two strangers, all of us commuting to work. Folks around me were reading the paper or listening to a podcast. I, on the other hand, was transfixed by the Netflix show playing on my phone, stifling a whimper and wiping the tears from my face as fast as I could.
I knew people around me could see me crying, but I didn’t care. To them, maybe my morning had been marred by some bad personal news. But as far as I was concerned, I was transported smack in the middle of Kansas City, Missouri, and silently sobbing thanks to the indescribable soul work of the Fab 5: Karamo, Tan, Antoni, Jonathan, and Bobby.
It’s easy to say that every season of Queer Eye is the best, but season 3 might just take the cake (and it’s not just because of the newest member of the team, Bruley the French bulldog).
Over the course of eight episodes, the team travels around Kansas City helping everyday folks peel back the layers to understand why they haven’t been treating themselves with the same kindness they deserve and give other people.
It’s a lesson that is repeated throughout the fabric of the series, but what makes season 3 so special is that the same motif is repeated with each of their chosen “heroes” or "heroines": It’s OK to take the time to care for you.
In season 3, the Fab 5 continue their crusade to showcase a diverse range of experiences—from the sister team/co-owners of Jones Bar-B-Que to a camp counselor. Each episode this go-round shows us that deprioritizing self-compassion and self-care happens to all different kinds of people, for different reasons.
The reminder to prioritize ourselves in our everyday lives might just be one of the most important things this reboot could give the world.
The Jones sisters (who star in what might be the most tear-jerking episode of the season) have been hustling for so long, they’ve lost themselves in their work. For Jess, coming out to her family left her alone, and because of that rejectment, she needs help not rejecting herself. The season is filled with fathers, too: Rob was recently widowed, Robert is about to become a husband, and Tony is expecting a daughter.
In each of their stories, we find that out of convenience or just habit, they are neglecting to take care of themselves. And while that might not seem like a big deal at a quick glance, we learn that it ends up making their lives a bit harder for everyone, including themselves.
Episode 2’s Joey might sum up the season’s theme best when he explains to the Fab 5 that “it’s never been a big deal for me to take care of myself because I have what I need.” He says that he doesn't prioritize self-care because of how he grew up. “I got it in the back of my head that that was selfish,” he said.
Joey isn’t alone in thinking that—despite how the phrase “self-care isn’t selfish” has cemented itself in our lexicon. Our lived experiences shape our relationship with taking care of ourselves, for better or for worse.
But thanks to Queer Eye, we have another example of how this phrase is genderless and applicable to everyone (including, yes, you)—and it’s not an inherently bad thing.
“Self-care is essential to our survival,” Jessica Michaelson, Psy.D, told PsychCentral. Michaelson explained to the publication that babies do this intrinsically when they are crying for food. “That is sensing your inner state, and taking action to get your needs met,” she shared.
When we practice self-care, we’re actively not ignoring our needs and taking preventative measures so we’re not “sick, unhappy, and overwhelmed.”
But if that’s the lesson throughout the series, then how can we apply it if we don’t have the Fab 5 designing, styling, and revamping our lives?
Here are some tips:
Remember It’s a Journey
Self-care doesn’t mean that Rob in episode 6 needs to appear strong all the time in the wake of his wife’s passing. It doesn’t mean Thomas in episode 7 needs to be social all the time to live a fulfilled life. It also doesn’t mean the Jones sisters need to abandon their hard work completely now that they understand the importance of taking time for themselves.
There will be ups and downs in your journey—and self-care means recognizing that, not fighting it. Some days might not be the best, but if you use each of those as a chance to learn—and pause to recognize those learnings and how they impact your needs—then you’ll continue to grow regardless.
It Doesn’t Have To Be a Solo Effort
What this season of Queer Eye shows us is it’s all a matter of balance. It’s possible to prioritize time for you while also caring for those around you. Sometimes that looks like asking for help, other times it might mean taking your kids to get a haircut at the same time you need one, too.
Whether it’s finding an online community that is working through similar goals, or finding an IRL community, there are people who can help you practice self-compassion every day.
There’s No 'Right' Way to Practice Self-Care
What the folks in Queer Eye season 3 go through is their own experience. It doesn’t mean that if you’re also feeling the same insecurities, you need to go through the same process they have gone through.
Queer Eye provides a great guideline on how to start caring for yourself by focusing on your food, space, and more—but it’s also your story, so it’s going to look different than any of the heroes featured in any of the series’ episodes.
Start thinking about what your self-care practice and journey would look like. Ask yourself: What things would you want to work through and prioritize?
If you need help getting started, a good place to begin is our 7 Days to Self-Care Challenge, available in the Shine app. Through a week of guided meditations, we'll help you learn how to start setting boundaries, savoring moments of joy, and celebrating yourself.
Find what self-care looks like for you, and trust that you're entitled to it. As Jonathan of the Fab 5 likes to say: "You’re strong, you’re a Kelly Clarkson song, you got this."
Photo by Gavin Bond/Netflix
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