She is 5ft 6ins and weighs just 84 pounds — and while her hips are 32ins, her waist is only five inches bigger than a CD.

Yet Romanian Ioana, 30, insisted: "No one seems to believe it, but every day I eat three big meals and I snack on chocolate and crisps all the time. I just have a small stomach. It's a bit like having a natural gastric band — if I eat too much, I feel sick."

Ioana weighed more than seven pounds at birth. It was only as she became a teenager that she started to look different.

She said: "When I was 13 my waist was around 15 inches. Someone could put their hands around it, their fingers would touch and they would still have extra room." Even in her 20s she struggled with her self-esteem.

She explained: "In Romania it is better to be overweight, because that means you are from a wealthy family.

"So while my friends were going out and dating, I was sitting at home with Mars bars wishing I could fatten up."

In 2006 she met a German-born Jan. They dated for eight months before marrying in Berlin.

Ioana said: "Jan was the first person who saw me as beautiful and encouraged me to celebrate my body. He asked me to pose in some photos for him.

"He was so impressed he put them online and the response was amazing.

"I would still like to gain weight so I don't look so shocking — and now that I live in Germany I can't get enough pizza or kebabs.

"But I'm finally comfortable in my own skin."

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