Though it must be freaking awful to have to deal with something as soul-crushingly awkward as puberty in the public eye, we’re so glad to learn that Ariel Winter went to Sofia Vergara for help when her body changed “overnight” as a young teen.
“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,” Winter told SELF.com about her Modern Family costar.
“Growing up in the spotlight was quite possibly the worst for my self-esteem,” Winter, who has played Alex Dunphy for eight seasons, began. “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. I was stick thin, I had no chest, I had no butt — I had nothing. I was totally flat, and I was so sad about it. 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.”
At this point, even the media turned nasty, with Winter revealing that every time she left the house “there would be an article the next day being like ‘Ariel Winter [had] her boobs out at this event.’” And obviously, with Winter still being a very young teen at the time, this type of attention took a toll on her mental health.
… Enter Vergara.
Winter was able to go to her curvy-and-proud costar, who is no stranger to the kind of attention women can receive for daring to exist in human bodies, for help.
“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,'” Winter explained.
Eventually, even amidst personal struggles like her legal emancipation from her mother (her older sister Shanelle Workman eventually became her legal guardian), Winter began to feel comfortable in her own skin.
One of those decisions was, of course, getting her breasts reduced when she was 17. The 5’1″ star said her size 32F breasts began affecting her physical and mental health, and that last year’s breast reduction was “honestly the greatest choice I made.”
She’s also made the choice to be firmly body-positive, frequently speaking out about how helpful her breast reduction — scars and all — has been for her well-being.
And though she still gets crap from a whole lot of ugly-on-the-inside internet humans, it sounds like Winter is feeling pretty okay with herself in 2017 — and we’re so, so glad she has mentors like Vergara on set to deal with the pitfalls of fame.
“I think people make a lot of judgments about me based on what I wear and all the things that I do,” she concluded. “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.”