Ariel Winter Recalls Being Body Shamed and Called 'So Fat' by Fans at Age 13: 'That Was Rough'

The Modern Family alum said that fans struggled to separate her from her character on the show: "They’re like, 'How did you go from Alex Dunphy to being, like, a whore?' "

Ariel Winter
Photo: Amanda Edwards/Getty

For Ariel Winter, going through body changes in the spotlight led to years of horrific body shaming.

As Alex Dunphy on Modern Family, fans watched Winter go from being just 11 years old when the show started in 2009 to becoming a young adult, now 22, by the time of the finale in April 2020. That led to an avalanche of body shaming comments, Winter said on Red Table Talk: The Estefans.

"I got called a fat slut when I was 13. That was rough. Because I gained weight and my body changed, I had to wear different outfits and I wore a dress that had a cutout here," she said, pointing to her chest. "And the headlines were dark. 'Fat slut' was rough for me, and it continued."

Winter said that fans couldn't reconcile the character they saw on TV with her actual self.

"It was the fans, some of them — we have lovely, lovely fans, but some of them were also hard on me in the way they loved Alex Dunphy," she said. "And because I wasn't Alex Dunphy and didn't look like Alex, I didn't want to dress like Alex… I was just different in that way. I'm not my character."

That led to calling her increasingly rude names, Winter said.

"From them, they're like, 'How did you go from Alex Dunphy to being, like, a whore? You're trying to be sexy, you're 13, you're a horrible role model. What are you showing people? You got so fat on TV, now you look so fat,' " she recalled.

And as she got older, it only continued, especially after she gained weight from going on a new medication.

"I got on antidepressants. I gained 30 lbs." she said. "It was rough going to school, it was rough online, on my Instagram it was like, flooding comments, flooding comments. And so then I was like, 'They hate this about me, I need to work on it. I need to be thinner, I need to change my hair here, my cheeks look weird. If I change these things about me, the things they hate about me, I'm not going to get that anymore. I'm going to get praised.' "

RELATED VIDEO: Ariel Winter Slams Critics Accusing Her of 'Squeezing' Into Her Shorts

Winter said that she spent years trying to fix those areas that were criticized, from changing her hair, to trying to lose weight, to wearing more revealing outfits — and less revealing outfits too. But she eventually realized that she would be criticized no matter what she did.

Now, Winter said that she's in a better place, but is still a work in progress.

"I'm definitely still on a journey," she said. "I've been in therapy twice a week for years. I love my therapist. I love my time in therapy."

Related Articles