Gabrielle Deydier: what it’s like to be fatty in France

Gabrielle Deydiers work about being obese has ignited her native France. She tells Stefanie Marsh how their own lives has been a battle against grossophobia, discrimination and verbal abuse until now

In August 2015, 37 -year-old Gabrielle Deydier went for a job interview which she passed with flying colours. The chore was for a position as a belief helper at a Parisian special needs school and the interrogation body, including the school’s principal, had been so impressed with Gabrielle that they even told her they were worried in case she left for a better-paid responsibility. There had been only one awkward time: it comes down at the end, as Gabrielle was walking out the door. The rector said:” The educator you’ll be working under can be rather difficult .” Gabrielle barely discovered him, she was so very pleased about her brand-new job.

It wasn’t long before she realised that “difficult” was a enormou understatement.” You’re Gabrielle Deydier ,” was the first thing the schoolteacher in question said when they met.” I don’t work with fatty people .” Gabrielle tried to laugh it off, but the difficult teacher wasn’t smiling.” It wasn’t a gag ,” she said.

Gabrielle has two positions, a cheerful and open behaviour and weighs 150 kg, or 231/2 stone. She also has the affliction of both being French and living in France, which means that her physical impression weighs for everything, including her employability. In France, she says( and all the facts of her event seem to bear this out ), being fatty is deemed to be a grotesque self-inflicted disability. At any given time, 80% of Frenchwomen are thought to be on a food. In the south of the two countries, there’s a lively gastric-band manufacture( 50,000 business a year ).

There’s currently a vegan cult embroiling the region- a channel for some people to cover up eating disorder. “Frenchwomen,” says Gabrielle,” pride themselves as being the most feminine in Europe. There is this feeling that ladies have to be perfect in every acces .” Is it amazing then that the publication of Gabrielle’s book, You’re Not Born Fat , last month has attracted keen interest- a combination of both praise and moral hysterium?

For Gabrielle the past 12 months have been like waking up from a nightmare, if nightmares were real and lasted two decades. At one point in our find she’s tearful- but they find themselves tears of glad skepticism. Abruptly, at 38, Gabrielle, who’s been told her entire adult life that she wasn’t fit for undertaking, is being called an scholastic break-out hero. She’s been profiled in Le Monde , Figaro , the political word publication Le Point , and appeared on France’s most serious Tv shows.

The day before I fulfill her a councillor under Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, announced Gabrielle be interested to know whether she would consider organising the capital’s first anti-grossophobia( sizeism) daylight. Transactions to write a movie dialogue and a novel have been established. Italian Vanity Fair wrote about her, and an Italian publisher snarled up the book. The English-language privileges have not yet been sold.

Teenage beset: Gabrielle as a girl. She was only a bit overweight, but medical doctors made her on hormone medicine and her weight initiated to rise

What it means to be fat in France is for the first time up for discussion in France.” I decided to write the book ,” she says,” because I no longer want to apologise for existing. Yes obesity has redoubled in the past 10 times, that’s much too much. But it does not mean we discriminate against the obese in telling them they can’t work and insulting them .”

Gabrielle, who couldn’t even look at a picture of herself until six months ago, has prepared herself for this moment.” My publisher said:’ You will be on TV and it will be hard.’ So, with a acquaintance, we started doing pictures of me in a wading pool so I could accept how I seemed in a swimsuit .”( On France’s beaches, disgusted passers-by have told her to” Please cover up .”)” Because I was doing it for a purpose, it had signifying .”

We’ve arranged to meet downstairs in the restaurant of a youth hostel in Paris, where she’s lived since she lost the teaching enterprise( and her income) on the grounds that she absence commitment because she failed to lose weight. It’s startling to find a woman of her age, likability, ability- and now moderate notoriety- living in temporary accommodation because she can’t afford to hire a area in a Paris apartment. It’s a denial but she’s a small figure, despite her length, winkled into a banquette.

The previous week she had received an email:” Dear Gabrielle, after university I went to work at Dior where I am now very high up. I abhorred females looks just like you all “peoples lives”; my mother has always been flab. But now she’s in hospital, expiring. She gave me your notebook and it’s the first time I have understood how it must have felt for her. Thank you .” Gabrielle sits there looking very sad and a little bit helpless.” I find that crazy, that people need to read a volume to accept the overweight. I’m really, really sorry to get themes like that .”

There are many equally ludicrous escapades in her life story. Returning to the teaching occupation, this is how it pointed: discrimination on the basis of physical appearing is illegal in France, a statute that seems not to have filtered through to employers. Following the awkward prologue, the “difficult” coach innovated Gabrielle to the class of six autistic children as:” The seventh hampered being in the chamber .” She accused Gabrielle of sweating too much. The principal told Gabrielle:” If she has a problem with you, then so do I .”

” He said it was unfair on the children because they were now being doubly stigmatised- for their disabilities and because they’d be bullied for having a paunch educator .” Gabrielle was asked to” have a speculate” about her future.” We’re going to give you 30 daytimes to demonstrate “you think youre” motivated .”

‘ We started doing photographs of me in a puddle so I could accept how I searched in a swimsuit ‘: Gabrielle couldn’t even look at an image of herself until six months ago. Photo: Caco Design

Motivated?” Motivated to lose weight. To picture you’re committed to this place .”” It was never “their childrens” ,” says Gabrielle.” They were wonderful. But I was find it difficult and involved to deal with .” It was noted that:” You were met out of sigh after clambering the stairs to the third flooring .”

Why didn’t she take the school to courtroom?” I was afraid I wouldn’t be accepted ,” she says. It’s not an unlikely scenario. She’d experienced many same happens. The gynaecologist who growled:” There’s so much blubber here, I can’t see “; the male peer who repudiated he’d sexually beset her on the grounds that his wife was much better appearing:” Why would I try to assault a fat lady ?”

” The police were very good, but said:’ You have a right to make a complaint, but we advise against it because the two tribunals won’t be on your line-up .'”

Strangely , nothing same should ever happen to her at Montpellier University, where she’d blossomed.” I was very happy ,” she remembers.” I had lots of friends and used to go a lot. There were people who stirred enjoyable of me, but it wasn’t too bad, it wasn’t really discrimination. They were imbeciles, but it wasn’t the system. It was when I started looking for a errand .”

Becoming obese can happen to anyone and it began happening to Gabrielle at 17. As a girl she was stylish and muscular, a little bit overweight( at 65 kg, by a stone)- “plump”. Her father decided her daughter needed to take disaster steps after Gabrielle came home from a shop trip-up with a brand-new duo of trousers in size 14, instead of her customary 12.” She was very depressed about it:’ You can’t have put on weight – you wasted money for no reason .’ But even then my load wasn’t such a big deal .” That changed when she went to a doctor.

The doctor contemplated Gabrielle’s weight income to be a very big deal indeed and started her on hormone management.” I inaugurated having difficulties like very bad skin all over my person and fuzz ripening everywhere. And I put on a lot of load: 30 kg in three months .” More hormone medications were prescribed, combined with a strict nutrition of boiled veggies and meat. The heavines piled on.” It changed the lane I thought about meat. And I met myself snacking circumstances I’d never snacked before, hiding food, embezzling money from my parents to buy food. All sorts of nonsense .”

She now weighed 120 kg.” I wanted to die. Every day. I thought of myself as deformed .” Her parents weren’t glad either.” It was a extremely, very difficult time .” She miscarried her baccalaureate twice, then delivered. University intended freedom.

What happened after she graduated? Gabrielle originates smaller in her banquette.” I viewed all my friends getting work experience and I wasn’t, and I didn’t understand it. There was no logical reasonablenes for it. Parties were giving me admin or underpaid tasks. I was doing factory wield .” Halfway through a scheduled interview, a recruitment consultant spelled it out:’ You’re not compatible with the image we want to portray of the company .’ I said:” Well, I’m not an idiot .” And he said:” It’s well known that IQ is inversely proportional to figure weight .”

Gabrielle knew there was something specific French about her know-how. She’d expended a year in Spain as part of her position.” In Spain it merely wasn’t an issue. If someone commented on how I ogled “theres only” to give a praise. In France I’d be a couple of instants into a discussion and “it wouldve been”:’ But why are you fat? Was that a selection? Is it an illness ?'”

The visit to the doctor when Gabrielle was 17 is reflected by its antonym, exactly 20 year later, the second largest time in her life when her world was turned upside down: but this time from frightful to a waking dreaming. Last June, she remembers:” My depression was serious. I hadn’t talked to my family for a year. I was even worried I was going to be homeless. I put on 30 kg. I was going into drop-off and startled. I thought of killing myself or leaving for somewhere far gone, but didn’t know where to get-up-and-go. And on one of those ghastly dates your best friend pushed me to come to a journal launch. I didn’t want to go, went totally drunk and ceased up talking to some columnists about an investigative job where one was working undercover in an abattoir.

” I said:’ Do you know what grossophobia is ?’ and nobody knew what I was talking about. So I described all the things I’d knew. They told me to get wise down on paper and email it to them as soon as is practicable .” If Gabrielle hadn’t still had alcohol in her bloodstream the next morning she doesn’t think she’d have had the courage to place it into terms, six sheets. Wincing, she pressed “Send”. There was a publisher on the phone the same day. A fortnight afterwards, a notebook slew. She’s welling up:” It saved my life .”

The book is most revelatory about France in the response it has triggered- especially in the readers’ letters Gabrielle now gets every day( hardly any of them from people who are overweight ).” One woman told me she had been bulimic for 20 times because she was scared if she put on weight she would lose her husband and job .” A more layered response came from a guy:” He said,’ Your notebook has prepared me realise I’m a total shit. For five years old I worked with young people. If they were overweight, I humbled them .’ He asked me to forgive him, as if I was a priest in a confessional .” That’s not her job, she says.

Still, the letters establish one thing: it’s France’s turn now to feel as Gabrielle did: ashamed and wondering herself. All because of a single book. Her tale is fascinating, gallant, ongoing. Gabrielle Deydier: this is your year.

Amendment: this article was ammended on 1 1 September 2017 to reflect the fact that the English-language privileges to the book have not yet been sold and that it was a councillor under Anne Hidalgo who called .

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