Grossophobia is a hot topic in France right now ROBYN BECK,RONALDO SCHEMIDT,PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images


  • Grossophobia, or fatphobia, is a form of prejudice that is not often discussed.
  • Campaigners want to legislate to ensure that fat people are treated fairly.

The deputy mayor of Paris recently remarked that grossophobia – prejudice towards fat people – is the "last discrimination that is tolerated in our society".

But what exactly is grossophobia? And does it really deserve to be recognised as a systematic form of prejudice alongside racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia?

Grossophobia, fatphobia or sizeism?

There are various words used to describe the phenomenon, the two most commonly used in English being "fatphobia" or "sizeism".

However, the French equivalent – "grossophobia" – is gaining now gaining some traction thanks to an explosive new book, You're Not Born Fat, written by Gabrielle Deydier.

The 38-year-old, who weighs 23.5 stone, is currently living in a youth hostel after losing her job as a teaching assistant because she did not lose weight. She claims a colleague objected to her weight, which was said to be indicative of having a low IQ and being lazy.

The book has sparked a national debate in France. On 15 December, she will take part in an event at Paris City Hall called "Grossophobia, stop!", organised by deputy mayor Helene Bidard of the Communist Party.

Does grossophobia exist?

The concept of grossophobia is often dismissed, but studies have shown that fat people are paid less than other people, get fewer promotions, and are less likely to succeed at job interviews or with college applications.

Being overweight has no impact on a person's ability to do most jobs and achieve high academic standards yet large people suffer because of their size. Put simply, this amounts to discrimination.

Then there is the endless barrage of jokes, name calling and microaggressions suffered by fat people on a daily basis.

One analysis claimed there had been a 50% increase in size discrimination in the US between 1996 and 2006. Another claimed grossophobia was the fourth most prevalent form of discrimination.

The other side of the grossophobia coin is "thin privilege". The idea, akin to "white privilege", that thin people have systematic and structural advantages over fat people.

How do we stop grossophobia?

In schools, children need to be educated to look beyond a person's size in the same way they are now taught to disregard race or someone's sexual preferences.

Helene Bidard
Helene Bidard is a communist who wants to help fat people Facebook

At the legislative level, Bidard is taking the lead with Friday's event, where she will announce policy recommendations. Proposals could include placing physical appearance alongside race, sexuality and other characteristics in equalities law.

The day will also feature two round table discussions, a plus-size fashion show and a screening of several short films concerning the plight of larger people in the French capital.

The left-winger told Buzzfeed France she wants "bring this subject out of the closet", adding: "We really seek empowerment and want to make the media take notice.

"For to happen, women and politicians must realize that there is a real issue here, one that affects a lot of people, and that they can not continue to act as if these people are completely invisible from the political scene."