Ariel Winter may be best known for playing the brainy Alex on Modern Family, but she’s also become an outspoken critic of body-shaming comments.
Winter was only 11 years old when Modern Family first premiered in 2009, and over the years, she’s spoken candidly about growing up in the public eye and all the online abuse she’s experienced as a result. Specifically, she’s weathered a fair share of nasty comments about her body and fashion choices, and she’s never hesitated to call her critics out.
The now-19-year-old star has been extremely open about her own relationship with her body, and she’s not only spoken out about her decision to have breast reduction surgery, but she’s also proudly displayed her surgery scars on the red carpet.
Below, read some of the ways Winter has responded to body shamers.
When she criticized Instagram commenters who suggested she’s ‘asking for it’
In 2015, Winter shared a sunny photo of herself and her two nieces on a boat, with Winter wearing a bikini. After a barrage of critical Instagram comments, she posted a follow-up, not only calling out her own commenters but offering words of support to other girls who’ve experienced similar bullying.
“Who knew that an innocent photo with my nieces would turn into this?” Winter wrote. “The height of a girl’s skirt or whatever she is wearing for that matter, does not imply what she is asking for. It sickens me to think at 17 years old, a photo of myself with my nieces is suggesting that I’m ‘asking for it.’”
Who knew that an innocent photo with my nieces would turn into this? The height of a girl's skirt or whatever she is wearing for that matter, does not imply what she is asking for. It sickens me to think at 17 years old, a photo of myself with my nieces is suggesting that I'm "asking for it". I typically never give power to the mean things people bravely say behind their computer screens on the Internet, but this is for the girls who are constantly bullied whether it be online or at school.. You are not asking for anything because of what you are wearing- you are expressing yourself and don't you ever think you deserve the negativity as the consequence to what you are wearing- YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. Celebrate you and don't let anyone's comments allow you to think less of yourself. Us girls have to stick together!!!!!!
When she opened up about her breast reduction surgery — and proudly showed off her scars
In 2015, Winter made the decision to have breast reduction surgery, going from a 32F to a 34D. She later wrote a powerful essay about her decision for Time magazine’s Motto, opening up about the shame and discomfort she experienced when she suddenly developed large breasts during puberty.
“People may find it hard to believe, but when I got my breast-reduction surgery last year, it wasn’t because of the mean comments online,” Winter wrote. “It wasn’t because I didn’t like how I looked. Having so much weight on my frame was affecting me psychologically. I was uncomfortable and unhappy. I chose surgery because of how I felt, not because of what anyone else thought.”
A few months later, Winter refused to hide her surgery scars on the SAG Awards red carpet, defending her dress choice later on social media.
When she teamed up with Ariana Grande
Winter isn’t the only social media vigilante calling out hateful comments. When a commenter wrote a crude comparison between Winter and Ariana Grande, both the actress and the singer stepped up to call them out.
“We live in a day and age where people make it IMPOSSIBLE for women, men, anyone to embrace themselves exactly how they are,” Grande wrote. “Diversity is sexy! Loving yourself is sexy! You know what is NOT sexy? Misogyny, objectifying, labeling, comparing and body shaming!!!”
“Women should empower one another,” Winter added. “Celebrate each other — you’re all beautiful.”
When she called out Donald Trump for his sexist comments
Even the President of the United States isn’t safe from Winter’s ire. During Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, Winter spoke out against the many lewd comments he had made about women, including Rosie O’Donnell, Alicia Machado, and Megyn Kelly, to say nothing of the notorious Access Hollywood tape.
“I think it’s really disappointing that we’ve made so many strides towards promoting body positivity for women — and for men — and for empowering women, and he really kind of just tears it all down,” Winter told Entertainment Tonight in October.
When she stood up for her fashion choices
Winter recently received some heat online for wearing a sparkly gold dress to a Modern Family screening, and she took to Instagram to fire back.
“Why TF does anyone care that I didn’t dress casual like everyone else for the panel?” Winter wrote. “Why do I have to be like everyone else? Why can’t people just let other people feel good about themselves and do what they want? WEAR WHATEVER YOU WANT PEOPLE! As long as you feel good about yourself that’s what matters. I know I did.”
When she defended Kim Kardashian’s nude selfie
When Kim Kardashian bared her body in a 2016 selfie, a number of commenters were quick to express their disapproval. (Stars like Bette Midler and Piers Morgan were among them.) Others, however, passionately defended Kardashian, and Winter was one of them.
As a thank you, Kardashian even sent Winter a bouquet of flowers.
When she took on the concept of a “beach body”
After posing for a Refinery29 photo shoot, Winter wrote, in part, on Instagram, “The point was to take back the beach and help people understand that the beach should be a safe space to go as you please and feel good about yourself no matter what! Makeup on, makeup off, heels, sandals, covered up, exposed, do you and feel HAPPY about who you are and YOUR choices, not the ones society wants us to choose. It’s also HARD to be 100% confident — I’m still not — but I’m on a journey and I want other people to know they’re not alone. We all struggle but through our struggle we get stronger and closer to our goals. Body positivity is important.”
Y'all I love you but PLEASE pay attention and post my REAL point from my @refinery29 interview!!! Not that I'm "defending living with my 29 year old boyfriend" or that I'm "firing back at Trump" because first of all I don't need to defend anything I'm super happy and in love, and I'm not firing at anyone just sharing an opinion after being ASKED! The point was to take back the beach and help people understand that the beach should be a safe space to go as you please and feel good about yourself no matter what! Makeup on, makeup off, heels, sandals, covered up, exposed, do you and feel HAPPY about who you are and YOUR choices, not the ones society wants us to choose. It's also HARD to be 100% confident- I'm still not- but I'm on a journey and I want other people to know they're not alone. We all struggle but through our struggle we get stronger and closer to our goals. Body positivity is important- not that I live with my boyfriend. Press- please read the article and take it for what it is- not what will give you more readers! Let's all be real and represent people how they want to be represented through what they actually say. Rant over. Love yourselves, love others, be yourselves, and be happy. Xo
When she told her followers #yourbodyisYOURS
After receiving criticism for her wardrobe — including from her estranged mother — Winter posted a meme on Instagram urging people to not be ashamed of their bodies.