X-FACTOR flop Emma Chawner and her 79-stone family have defended themselves after being dubbed "too fat to work" and claiming nearly £16,000 a year in benefits.
Emma, 19, became a celebrity after appearing on the TV talent show in a dress made by her dad and getting abuse from Simon Cowell who famously said she "sang like a baby".
She, her mum Audrey, dad Philip and sister Samantha moved to Russell Place, Great Harwood, in December after being evicted from their Ramsbottom home amid claims they were nuisance neighbours, singing loudly into the early hours.
They were forced to sleep in the family car for eight weeks until they found a new home.
Since moving to their two-bedroom rented terrace house, the cruel jibes about their weight have continued, with people sending messages to the family on Facebook from as far away as Canada, America and Scandinavia.
But they refuse to accept that they are lazy and over-eat, instead blaming their size on genetics.
Hairdressing student Emma says she has dropped from 17 stone to 15 stone, though she admits her only exercise at present is walking the family’s Yorkshire terrier Jenny.
Sister Sam, 21, who weighs 18 stone, said: "Being big is in our genes. I have to buy elasticated trousers but they just keep falling down because I’ve lost so much weight.
"It’s really hard not to get upset about the nasty comments. We just try and ignore people."
Both girls say they would love to have a gastric band fitted to help battle the bulge.
None of the Chawners work. Instead they claim benefits totalling around £15,600 a year and say they have no money left after paying the bills.
Emma, who does voluntary work at a Ramsbottom charity shop at weekends with her sister, said: "People think we just sit here on our backsides watching television but a lot of people just sit at their computer writing nasty comments about us on Facebook.
"I have been looking for jobs in hairdressing and retail. Now I’m thinking about going back to college to study childcare. I have lost count of how many jobs I have applied for."
"We have both been for lots of interviews but we just get stared at. All the hairdressers we have been to are full of skinny girls and we never hear anything back."
Dad Philip, 53, is a former HGV driver who hasn’t worked since being diagnosed with diabetes in 1997. He has dropped from 27 stone to 22 stone after taking tablets to reduce his weight and balance his sugar levels. His trouser waist size has also reduced from 52 inches to 46 inches.
Mum Audrey, 57, weighs around 24 stone and suffers from severe asthma and epilepsy. She hasn’t worked since the late 1970s and says the family don’t binge eat.
She denied a quote in a national newspaper that they loved munching biscuits and that they had once bought some pears but they tasted funny.
She claims their weekly shopping list typically includes WeightWatchers meals, potatoes, tuna, cooked meats and salad.
"We don’t sit here scoffing crisps, chocolates and biscuits. If we do have biscuits, we have the low fat rich tea variety and we only have a couple", she said.
"We eat pears, bananas, apples, kiwi fruit and plenty of salads. It’s not like we eat the wrong foods."
Emma has also appeared on The Feelgood Factor with Eamonn Holmes, the Jeremy Kyle Show, GMTV and several radio stations, and has met a host of celebrities. She has even appointed an agent.