Gabrielle Deydier’s book about being obese has ignited her native France. She tells Stefanie Marsh how her life 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 job was for a position as a teaching assistant at a Parisian special needs school and the interview panel, including the school’s headmaster, had been so impressed with Gabrielle that they even told her they were worried in case she left for a better-paid job. There had been only one uncomfortable moment: it came at the end, as Gabrielle was walking out the door. The headmaster said: “The teacher you’ll be working under can be rather difficult.” Gabrielle barely heard him, she was so delighted about her new job.

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

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