Being able to gorge on whatever you please without piling on the pounds might sound like a dream come true.

But for Carole French, who can tuck into takeaways, feast on fry -ups and still tip the scales at a tiny six stone, it's a living nightmare.

The mother-of-two is one of only two people in the world that have been diagnosed with muscular fibrositis disproportion - a disorder that means her body can't store fat.

And while initially the condition might seem attractive, Mrs French says the reality is miserable.

The slight 50-year-old is so thin she is forced to wear children's clothes as a size zero hangs from her tiny frame.

Carole, from Oldham, Manchester, says she is bombarded with taunts and stares every time she leaves the house from strangers.

She says some even try to take her picture and shout cruel jibes about her petite body, which many believe is down to anorexia.

Mrs French said: 'So many people tell me I'm lucky to be so thin, but I just wish I could put on weight.

'Since I was a teenager, people have always assumed that I was anorexic - but nothing could be further from the truth.

'I eat like a horse - I never skip meals and I treat myself to a Chinese take-away once a week.

'People can be really cruel - I know I look different, but I don't choose to look the way I do.

'People stop and stare at me and take pictures of me like I'm in some kind of freak show. It's really upsetting.'

At 5ft 4in, Mrs French struggles to find clothes to fit her, and is forced to buy aged 10 children's clothes.

This is despite her determined efforts to consume at least the recommended number of 2,000 calories for a woman every day.

Her regular diet involves cooked breakfasts, cheese salads for lunch, and chinese take-aways for dinner - washed down with a pint of calorific stout.

Born a normal-sized baby, Mrs French's parents soon noticed their was something different about their daughter when she took much longer to sit, crawl, and walk than other children her age.

By the time she started school, it was glaringly obvious to her class mates that she was not the same as them - she was tiny, and her arms and legs were stick thin.

Aged 13 she weighed just a tiny four stone - and her terrified parents were convinced the teenager was suffering from an eating disorder.

Mrs French said she longed to be like her peers and develop a curvier figure.

'When I was a teenager, I was always picked on by the other kids - they used to call me 'stick insect' and say I was anorexic.' she said.

'Even my parents thought I was doing something to myself to avoid putting on weight.

'But I was desperate to look like my friends, who were all developing curves and beautiful figures. I stuffed myself with carbs and mum's huge roast dinners, but nothing seemed to work.

'Even when my mum took me to the doctors, they referred me to hospital to make sure I wasn't bulimic or anorexic.

'It took doctors a year to diagnose me with muscular fibrositis disproportion - there was only one other person with it in the world.

'It means I don't have as many muscles as a normal person, and virtually no body fat.'

The condition is likely to lead to other health problems.

She said: 'My condition leaves me constantly exhausted, and I'm likely to develop osteoporosis and arthritis.

'There's no cure for it - I've just had to learn to live with it.

'My husband, Steve, and two sons, Neil and Mark, say I'm perfect just the way I am.

'Loads of my friends say they'd love to swap their body problems for mine - but I remind them of all the stares and comments I have to put up with.

'Anorexia is a terrible thing - but there's nothing I can do to change my body.'
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