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Sarah Hyland on Building Body Confidence in Costar Ariel Winter: ‘I Tried to Be a True Older Sister’

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Sarah Hyland and Ariel Winter
Kevin Winter/Getty

Ariel Winter is known for her body confidence, from publicly opening up about her breast reduction to wearing what she wants, when she wants. And her Modern Family costar Sarah Hyland takes some of the credit.

Hyland says that she, along with Sofia Vergara and Julie Bowen, helped Winter learn to love her body.

“I like to think we — me, Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara — helped her be confident with her body and herself,” Hyland, 26, tells PEOPLE.

“I mean, she was 11 years old when I met her. I was 18. I tried to be a good role model for her, and a true older sister for her because she’s such a sweet little girl.”

Hyland, whose third collection for Candie’s debuts this fall, says she stays confident by staying away from negativity.

“It’s about being confident in your self, and not letting people’s hateful words get to you,” she says. “Just surround yourself with positivity and not let the negativity get to you.”

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She also focuses on the positive when it comes to her health, and her battle with kidney dysplasia. Hyland says she has fans who reach out to her about their own struggles with the condition.

“I’ve read a lot of letters that people have sent me and that’s why I am so open about it,” she says. “It’s really amazing to connect with people on a level that you wouldn’t normally be able to connect with a quote unquote ‘healthy’ person.”

“The fans of mine that are going through health issues — whether it be kidney or cancer or anything like that, whether I don’t know exactly what they’re going through or not — it’s really nice to have a community where we support one another.”