It wasn't until Jennifer Hudson appeared on American Idol in 2004 that she first felt overweight.
"I didn't even know I was considered plus-sized until I came to Hollywood," she reveals in the September issue of Self magazine. "I thought I was the perfect size!"
At the time, the powerhouse singer was a size 16 -- a stark contrast to her uberthin competitors.
When one journalist referred to Hudson as "plus-sized" during an interview, the singer "looked around, like, 'Who is she talking to? Oh, me? I'm plus-sized?'" Hudson, now 29, recalls. "In the neighborhood I'm from in Chicago, a 16 is normal. But in Hollywood, everyone looks exactly the same, so I stood out."
Though she didn't win the American Idol title, she did score a life-changing role in the 2006 movie Dreamgirls (which earned her an Academy Award for her portrayal of Effie White).
But praise for her performance wasn't enough for Hudson, who shed 80 pounds after welcoming son David in 2009. "I'm prouder of my weight loss than my Oscar!" the Weight Watchers spokeswoman admits.
Hudson, engaged to David Otunga since September 2008, didn't shed her baby weight through Weight Watchers alone.
"Four days after my cesarean section, I began walking 30 minutes every day. It was my therapy, my moment to myself, and it was all I could do. I figured, me walking is better than me sitting on the couch," she tells Self. "Even if I can't climb a mountain or do 100,000 push-ups, these steps matter, and they're leading somewhere."