One again, Modern Family actress Ariel Winter’s breasts are making headlines. But this time, it’s because of her recent breast reduction and a powerful interview that followed.
For the actress – who has played Alex Dunphy on the hit show since it began in 2009 – the June 4 surgery was long overdue.
After all, for years all eyes were focused on her breasts – whether she was ‘showing crazy cleavage’ or had ‘become a woman’ with her newfound curves.
As if being a child actor and going through puberty in front of millions wasn’t challenging enough.
In a new interview with Glamour.com, the 17-year-old star speaks candidly about her sudden and overwhelming breast development at the age of fifteen and the years of emotional and physical pain that resulted. The struggle eventually led to her breast reduction surgery, through which she went from a size 32F cup to a 34D.
“It really did happen overnight,” she says of her unexpected growth spurt. “I remember being in my sister’s wedding and being so flat and thinking, ‘I just wish I could grow boobs!’ And then overnight I did. But then they kept growing and growing and growing, and it didn’t seem like they were going to stop.”
Any female who had to go through high school with large breasts knows how awkward it can be to adjust to the newfound attention as eyes suddenly gaze to your chest more often than your face.
Winter had to deal with that on some of the world’s most prestigious red carpets, as a 5-foot-1 15-year-old with size F boobs.
“It was really hard. There was so little that I could wear that was age-appropriate. I’d have to wear the dress that was super tight and formfitted everywhere because if I didn’t, it didn’t look good. I didn’t really have an option other than to wear fitted clothes. Everyone would [say], “Why is she dressing so mature? That’s so inappropriate for her age!” I understood what they were saying. It’s not like I wanted to pick out those inappropriate dresses, it’s just that I didn’t really have another choice, or I was going to get ridiculed. It’s hard when you’re a teenage girl and you already have a lot of ridicule and then you pile on more, and it’s kind of…it just gets too much,” she tells Glamour.
Whether journalists were writing about them, guy friends were staring at them, or people were wondering if they were real, all eyes were on her breasts long before Winter’s sixteenth birthday.
“It made me feel really uncomfortable, because as women in the industry, we are totally oversexualized and treated like objects. Every article that has to do with me on a red carpet had to do with ‘Ariel Winter’s Crazy Cleavage!’ or ‘Ariel Winter Shows Huge Boobs at an Event!’ That’s all people would recognize me by – not, ‘Oh, she does great work on Modern Family.’ ”
The focus on Winter’s body rather than her career led to online bullying, where she was taunted for the size of her breasts and for being “fat.” “I could post a photo where I feel good, and 500 people will comment about how fat I am and that I am disgusting,” she told Glamour.
The emotional turmoil was coupled with physical pain.
“It started to hurt so bad that I couldn’t take the pain,” she said. “My neck was hurting so bad, and I actually had some problems with my spine. I had been discussing my chest with doctor for many years, but when I finally said, ‘I’m thinking of doing this,’ he said, ‘Your back is going to thank you so much,'”says Winter.
The turning point in her decision to get surgery came when she couldn’t find a bathing suit that fit her shape while shopping one day.
“I really felt bad about myself. I didn’t feel happy,” she said of the experience. “I just kept saying, ‘What am I going to wear? There’s nothing for me to wear at the beach, at the pool.'”
Winter kept the surgery pretty much secret, but always planned on speaking about it after the fact.
“I didn’t want to not tell anybody and then have another million stories [say], ‘What happened to Ariel? She looks so different.’ And I also think there’s some good that can come from [telling] my story. It’s something that I did to better my life and better my health, and I think that can benefit a lot of young girls. I have felt happier with myself than I ever have,” said Winter.
Her first public appearance since her surgery will be at September’s Emmy Awards – and it’s going to be much more fun for the actress to try on dresses.
“Now I can wear all styles of dresses and all styles of things,” she says. “I don’t always have to pick the tightest, most formfitting dress I can find. I can pick something else and still feel good about myself. I couldn’t do that before. I’m excited to finally actually feel confident and not just appear confident.”