Gabrielle was branded one of the “fattest girls in pop” at the height of her success.

The 51-year-old singer wishes she’d been kinder to herself when she was younger because she used to say “awful things” to ease the pain of other people’s jibes and it’s taken her a long time to feel it is “OK to be” herself.

She told The Big Issue magazine: “When I entered the music industry I became really self-deprecating.

“I once opened up a newspaper and it had an article about the five fattest girls in pop – I was one of them and so was Geri Halliwell, who’s teeny weeny weeny. No wonder people had eating disorders.

“So I would tell my younger self to be kind to herself so she won’t be in that position of saying something awful about myself because if I said it, the it doesn’t hurt as much as somebody else saying it.

“I have got to a place where it’s OK to be me but I battle every day not to make fat girl comments about myself to other people.”

The ‘Dreams’ hitmaker was much more confident as a teenager but she’s achieved far more musical success than she ever imagined.

She added: “People would have probably preferred me to hide in the corner because of my lazy eyelid.

“But instead I would stand on the table at lunchtime and sing in front of the whole school.

“I was quite strong and confident when I was 16.

“I’d love to go back and tell her, girl, I’m gonna write you some songs so you’ve got some songs that are going to truly represent that little pop kid that you were and you still are to this day…

“I would say, ‘Buckle up kid’, it’s about to get wild!’

“My younger self would be shocked if anyone had said she would have a bit of fame coming her way and she was going to land in the charts with the highest ever new entry for a debut single by a female artist. ‘Dreams’ went straight in at number two and then went to number one!”

But Gabrielle insisted her success was “sweeter” because she hadn’t received any encouragement.

She said: “If you’d said all that to the girl with the lazy eyelid who wasn’t the most popular girl and who, according to some people, shouldn’t really dare to dream? Wow.

“But I’m glad I didn’t know because it’s made that success even sweeter.”