Miss South Carolina Bree Boyce may be a beauty queen, but for most of her life, she says she was "miserable in my own skin" as a heavyset kid in Florence, S.C.
"I used to make fun of my weight with others to fit in and be the funny, overweight girl," Boyce tells People Magazine for its annual Half Their Size cover story.
"I'd go home and cry, not because of what others said about me, but what I had said about myself," she adds. How times have changed for the 22-year-old:
By 17, she had reached her heaviest weight: 234 lbs.! Aching knees and difficulty breathing drove her to meet with a doctor, who told her she needed to lose weight.
"It was embarrassing because a 17-year-old shouldn't be in a doctor's office having this conversation," recalls Boyce. "I knew there were so many things I wanted to do in life - I wanted to be on Broadway, go to school, get married, have a family."
Another key motivator: "I wanted to be Miss America one day."