ByAllanah Faherty, writer at Creators.co
Senior staff writer | Twitter: @allanahfaherty | Email: [email protected]
Allanah Faherty

Ariel Winter wasn't even technically an adult when the 17-year-old made the difficult decision of undergoing breast reduction surgery. Suffering from back pain and the unwanted side-effect of having people focus on her body rather than her talents, she made a choice to go under the knife and hasn't looked back since.

Following her surgery Winter has flourished, trading in her media-given "sex-symbol" status for one of an advocate for young women targeted by online bullies. Importantly, Winter's also never been ashamed of hiding where she came from, or of embracing the fact that she's still just an 18-year-old finding her way in the world, albeit in a very public way.

Recently opened up to Self in an interview which saw her bare her soul, and in an untouched photoshoot which saw her bare her scars from the surgery which changed her life. Winter explained to Self:

"Growing up in the spotlight was quite possibly the worst for my self-esteem. I had a hard time finding confidence within myself. When I started [Modern Family], I had a completely different body than what happened overnight at 12 years old."

She added:

"I was stick thin, I had no chest, I had no butt — I had nothing. Then automatically, overnight, my body changed drastically. I was a D cup and had a bigger butt, and my waist was expanding. Everything was getting bigger. I automatically got this hate and judgment online."

And unfortunately for a young Ariel, the negative comments about her body being thrown about in the media were having a flow-on effect with her mental health. Luckily though, she had a supportive force in co-star Sofia Vergara. The Modern Family star revealed:

"I had a great role model in Sofia growing up, with her being a curvy woman that was super proud of who she was and what she looked like. She could see that I was struggling a little bit with how to deal with my body, and was always trying to give me advice, like, 'Here are some brands that would look good on our body type,' or 'Wear whatever you want, and feel good about yourself.'"

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These days, armed with a new-found sense of confidence after her surgery, and a squad of supporters, Ariel has transformed into being a target of online bullies, to a forced to be reckoned with. And after receiving a comment on her Instagram which shocked her to her core (Winter says most negative comments on Instagram don't bother her any more), she realized she had to stand up and be the voice for those who don't have such a public platform.

After posting a photo of herself and her young nieces wearing bathing suits on vacation, a random stranger left a comment remarking that Winter was "asking for it."

She said:

"That really disturbed me, and made me incredibly upset. It made me super disappointed in our world, and in the internet and the people who were writing things on the internet."

So, in reply, Winter posted on Instagram again, this time calling negative commenters out. She said:

"I really had to stand up and make it a point to fight back against people who were not only body shaming, but also slut-shaming...taking aim at people that weren’t doing anything wrong and making comments that were so harmful and distressing for absolutely no purpose."

Adding:

"I think people make a lot of judgments about me based on what I wear and all the things that I do. They kind of glorify and objectify a lot of the things that I do, and I wish people would just see me as the normal 18-year-old that I am. I’m doing the same things that everybody my age is doing...people are taking it and making it [seem] like I’m doing stuff that is crazy when really I’m just being me. I wish people would see that."

It's a hell of a journey for anyone to go through, but these days Winter is confident in herself, and also the choices she makes.

"... As I got older, I started to realize that as long as I’m positive in my life and as long as I feel good about my decisions and stick to how I feel and the things I want to do, that’s what’s most important. And that’s what’s going to get me through in life."

I don't know about you, but that seems like one poignant realization for someone who doesn't even turn 19 until next week, don't you think? Keep slaying, Ariel!

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Source: Self

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