Cheryl Cole's slender frame threatens to overshadow her X Factor victory

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Cheryl Cole’s triumphed on The X Factor and been hailed as a national treasure but now it seems her success is being overshadowed by a huge backlash over her dramatic weight loss.

Fans have logged on to internet forums to express their concern about the 25-year-old singer’s skeletal frame after seeing her ribs protruding from her backless Julien Macdonald gown at the X Factor final on 13 December.

‘She looks emaciated!’ wrote one. Another was in agreement, saying: ‘Visible ribcage – hot? Not in my book.’

Rumours have started to circulate that Cheryl’s tiny frame, believed to now be just over 7st, is down to the fact that she’s still in turmoil about reports earlier this year of husband Ashley Cole’s infidelities.

The past year has been an emotional one for Cheryl, whose weight plummeted to just 6st as she fled the country in the wake of the scandal.

‘With Cheryl, weight loss is a sure sign of stress,’ says our source. ‘Since her troubles with Ashley started, she’s found it hard to regulate her weight. She’s also been working flat out.

‘She’s been so busy with The X Factor and all her Girls Aloud commitments.

‘Ashley’s been the least of her concerns – in fact, he’s been supportive and on his best behaviour. But Cheryl’s found it a struggle – her overnight success has stretched her to the limit.’

A spokesperson for Cheryl says: ‘She’s happy and healthy. The camera angles from the X Factor final were unflattering and misleading.’

See the full story about Cheryl Cole in Now magazine dated 5 January 2008 – out now!