June 21, 2007 03:00 PM

Kelly Clarkson‘s most recent obstacle was getting her concert tour back on track after its being shelved, but in high school she faced an even bigger hurdle: bulimia.

The problem hit her freshman year, when she tried out for the school musical, Clarkson, 25, reveals in the August issue of CosmoGIRL!, on sale July 3. The classmate who nabbed the role Clarkson wanted was the worst in the vocal department – but the best when it came to looks.

“It struck me – not that life isn’t fair – but more simply, I’ve got to work on my looks. I thought, next time if I come back and I’m cuter and thinner and have better clothes and makeup and I’m a good singer, then I’ll get the role,” the American Idol winner tells the magazine.

“The lesson I took from that was purely superficial, but that’s what I grew up thinking for a long time. It wasn’t smart, and I headed straight into an eating disorder and became bulimic for the next six months.”

She caught on the to what was taking place to her thanks to a male classmate. “One of my guy friends caught on to it and I just felt so ashamed and embarrassed about it. And when I started thinking about how I had been hiding it, I thought, This cannot be good. And I literally went cold turkey and snapped out of it.”

When it comes to her body now, Clarkson expresses her comfort with it. “I’m definitely thicker than most people in my industry, but not in real life,” she says. “When you’re on the red carpet with people who weigh 100 pounds, hell yeah, I’m bigger than most of them. I’ve got a butt, I’m Greek – I can’t help that. And I think it’s good for people to see normal.”

Clearly, that’s the operative word. “I’ve always seen myself as a normal girl, I know it sounds cheesy, but once you’re okay with you, everyone else is going to be great with you,” she offers. “You can’t focus on the negative. If you don’t like something or are uncomfortable with something, then change it.”

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