Ariel Winter Is Determined to End the Cycle of Online Body Shaming

Ariel Winter started out in Hollywood at just 11 years old. Naturally, as she got older, her body matured — and that, unfortunately, is where the internet got ugly. "I was called every name in the book: fat, a slut, trashy, ugly," she tells Stylish. But she's not tolerating that talk anymore. She's fighting back — and educating young girls in the process.

Ariel Winter
Ariel Winter tells Stylish how working with Dove's Self Esteem Project has made her even more confident, and how she wants to educate more women on body positivity. Craig Barritt/Getty

"Right after I started developing, I automatically started getting all this hate. I developed these boobs and a butt, and everything changed," the Modern Family actress, 18, tells Stylish. "And as I got older, it only seemed to get worse."

That's why she decided to partner with Dove on its 12-year-old confidence campaign, the Self Esteem Project, which aims to inspire girls through research, education and understanding of their bodies. "What I think is really amazing about it is that we're empowering young women to love themselves, to be comfortable with themselves," she says. "And it's not just about [liking] what they look like, but loving who they are."

Ariel Winter
Ariel Winter posed with guests at a Dove Self-Esteem Workshop to encourage girls to #speakbeautiful. Ilya S. Savenok/Getty

The Sofia the First star notes that 62 percent of young girls don't know how to use the internet to get the information that could help them understand that when it comes to bodies, each one is unique, and there's no such thing as "right" or "wrong." "We're teaching them … so we can change the scape, so they don't have to grow up the way I did," Winter explains.

Since undergoing breast reduction surgery in 2015, Winter says she feels extremely confident about her body, and her adventurous sense of style proves it. She also credits her sister, Shanelle Workman, whom she moved in with at just 14, and her curvaceous costar Sofia Vergara for encouraging her to embrace her curves. But she has one more source of inspiration, too: the real girls she speaks to online.

"I read a lot of the stories young women will send me about their body positivity and their body journeys, and that really helps me," she says. "There are a lot of young women who are going through the same thing that I went through, and I think it's important that we all empower each other. It makes it easier."

Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter to get breaking celebrity news, hot pics and more delivered straight to your inbox!

Want stories like these delivered straight to your phone? Download the Us Weekly iPhone app now!