Ariel Winter is sharing the hateful comments she got online about her body after going through puberty.
The Modern Family star sat down for a conversation about cyberbullying on Red Table Talk: The Estefans, and recalled to hosts Gloria Estefan, Gloria's daughter Emily Estefan, and niece Lili Estefan how she was judged for developing curves at a young age.
“I had a very different body type. I was so, so, so, skinny, and small. I wished for boobs. I wanted them so bad,” Winter, who is now 23, explained. “Then, on my 12th birthday, I got my period, and I got my boobs. My body fully changed. I was then curvy, I had boobs.”
She recalled how “everybody online was so empowered when they realized they could be anonymous.”
“I got called a ‘fat slut’ when I was 13,” the actress said. “That was rough. I had gained weight and my body changed. I had to wear different outfits. I wore a dress that had cut-outs, and the headlines were dark.”
She said the comments got worse when she reached high school and gained 30 pounds after starting antidepressants, admitting that it was “rough online” due to the comments about her body “flooding” her Instagram.
“I was like ‘OK, they hate this about me, I’ll work on it. I have to be thinner. I have to change my hair. My cheeks look weird. If I change this about me, the things they hate about me, I’m going to get praise,’” she said. “Every time I changed something, something else was wrong. I tried to lose weight, a lot of diets, changed my hair, wore more revealing outfits, wore less revealing outfits.”
In addition to the mean comments, the Sofia the First voice actress said she received a slew of unwanted sexualized messages.
“To say that I’m looking for it, that I’m looking for dick pics in my DMs, I’m looking for things that are disgusting to read,” she said. “There was an overwhelming amount of negativity and sexualization that was really dark.”
Winter has long been open about wanting people to stop commenting on her body. In 2017, she received praise from fans for standing up for herself on social media against people who shamed her for wearing shorts in the summertime. She wrote in a post on Twitter, “Get over it. It’s hot, I’m obviously going to wear minimal clothes. I’m not going to suffer in a turtleneck to please anyone. I’m a normal girl.”
In an interview with Good Morning America in 2019, she explained what it was like dealing with trolls during the early days of her career.
"I was a developed younger person,” she shared. “They would see me, and even though I was a child, they’d talk about me and my body like I was an adult — or, you know, shame me for this or shame me for that — and it was really difficult.”
Winter added, “I spent a lot of years trying to figure out who I wanted to be, what I wanted to look like — if I did this would people stop...if I did this would people stop. Over the years I kind of just learned there’s nothing, not even just body image, that you will be able to do to please everybody."