In the auditorium they only have eyes for him. 1.90 m, athlete complexion, charming smile, curly brown hair, Lenny Tabourel offers the “course”. It is rather a relaxed exchange with students from Branly High School in Dreux. Here as elsewhere, we are sensitive to the issue of harassment and how to combat it. There are, of course, specialists, “but a witness also has a significant impact,” according to the school’s management, who invited who, before being Mister France, was the mockery of his classmates.
For you, is physical or mental important?
It’s the mind, because it conditions your physique.
Did the title of Mister France heal you from the wounds of your childhood?
You never get over it, there are always scars. But these tests allow us to move forward. Nothing is ever hopeless, even in the most delicate of circumstances.
Lenny Tabourel, “Physical wrapping is just an ephemeral appearance. It just testifies to my desire to change.”
“We never recover, but these tests allow us to move forward”
When was this first time bullying?
I was in school, but I wasn’t aware of it at the time. When you are a child, you do not have the perspective to become aware of any abuse. I remember they pointed at me. My classmates wanted to make fun of others and made fun of me. I was his scarecrow. He was not very happy.
Have you talked to your parents, friends …
I kept everything to myself, as do many harassed people. I was left with my pain because, modestly, I never wanted to talk about my feelings, my feelings. I didn’t find it useful. This is probably the mistake I made.
Was there any particular humiliation that marked you?
It is rather a succession of events that affected me both physically and morally. It was every day. And again, these would mean that you have to spend for these processes. Today, a harassed young man can go through hell. It is for this reason that I make interventions in schools and institutes. Harassment can destroy the strongest people, seriously damage their future.
Have you gone through school phobia?
I didn’t necessarily have a school phobia, but rather a nuisance with my situation. In the morning, I went to school with a knot in my stomach. But he did not want to show anything to others. My philosophy is to keep smiling to hide a tear … I smiled, even though I was suffering in silence.
Food has been your refuge.
I was in a state of depression and the more I was attacked, the more I ate. It was my only pleasure. I gained a lot of weight. And the comments did not stop at school. I was regularly tossed “big bacon” and “big pork”.
Has your job been affected by this?
I’ve always had the strength to make concessions, perhaps being a little more mature than the others. I didn’t want my inner discomfort to reappear in my classes and homework. I was always in that logic of hiding my pain.
premium Harassment, the subject of a Chartres schoolboy’s first film
“Informing and preventing is the top priority”
Why are National Education prevention actions important in the fight against bullying?
The taboo no longer exists and awareness campaigns are multiplying. I would like to see more initiatives aimed at giving practical advice, in dedicated hours. For example, work on the topic: “How do I react to a bully?” Informing and preventing is the top priority. Because there are still too many silences on the subject.
What’s your main message?
There are many, and they include bullying, personal development, personal motivation, and ambition. My journey is proof of that. But first there was a click in the desire to break this infernal circle.
Which one ?
It all started with a personal conscience, a deep satiety during my college years. I did some training on myself. A total questioning. I didn’t feel good about my body, I no longer assumed my curves. He can no longer stand the gaze of others. I have not applied any miracle recipe. I just wanted to build another shell through sport and better nutrition. My significant growth in adolescence helped me, as did sports. From rugby, which I used to play when I was older, I switched to basketball. And then I stopped snacking outside of meals.
I stopped abusing sugar, which I took out of my breakfast. Goodbye soft drinks too! At noon and in the evening, they are starchy foods, vegetables and fruits. I’m used to being hungry and not breaking between meals. The mind plays an important role.
The former obese child has become a muscular man. How did you experience this “metamorphosis”?
The insults stopped at the institute. I no longer knew my bullies. In fact, I don’t blame them. At school or university, the child is not always aware that what he says can seriously hurt the person.
Is being elected Mister France a revenge … but also a stage?
These are the two, the concretion of a heavy past. “Lenny le gros” became Lenny Mister France. From this experience, I remember that you can always get out of it knowing how to take advantage of your opportunity.
Then what will it be?
Writing a book about my experience, which will offer ideas for personal development to be better on your skin and especially on your head. And above all, to help the victims of harassment. I intend to insist on delivering messages of hope.
“In fact, I don’t blame them for my bullies. At school or college, the child is not always aware that what he says can seriously hurt the person.” Photo: Alexander CK
“The army was my second family”
Where are you in your personal development?
I’m in “step by step” mode, betting on intervening in schools. It is also true that I am happy with my life as Mister France. It’s nice to be praised by the physicist himself after years of insults, years of “gross gross fat.” Now the physique is just an appearance. The important thing is the interior. Sport played an important role.
You are currently engaged in the Army in Besançon (Doubs). Has military life contributed to your recovery from bullying?
The army was my second family. It gave me more self-confidence and a better understanding of how to handle events. I now coordinate military teams. The army contributed to my transformation. It is an important step that will be stopped. I look forward to a path of advice, both psychologically and nutritionally. Young people need it.
What do you say to a bullied kid who doesn’t aspire to be a Mister France or a rugby player?
Talk about it around you. And don’t stop making fun of others. To give it importance is to comfort them in their hostile approach.
It is not easy to resist.
That’s why we have to talk about it. Don’t be isolated.
Have your notoriety and physique affected your private life?
I don’t have much time for that. Often on the move, I first manage Mister France’s life before my partner’s life. I’m single. A heart to catch!
December 3, 1998. Birth of Lenny Tabourel in Avignon (Vaucluse).
2018. High school digital electronic audiovisual system.
2019. Employed in the army, in the barracks of Besançon (Doubs).
2022. Elected Mister France.