Ariel Winter has something to get off her chest.
Speaking to Glamour.com, the actress does just that by announcing that she underwent breast reduction surgery on June 4 to reduce the size of her boobs from a 32F to a 34D. "It's amazing to finally feel right," the 17-year-old Modern Family star tells the magazine. "This is how I was supposed to be."
Until this summer, Winter says it was "really hard" to dress up for red carpet events. "There was so little that I could wear that was age-appropriate. I'd have to wear the dress that was super tight and form-fitted 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," the actress explains. "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," Winter says of growing up in the spotlight, adding, "We live in a day and age where everything you do is ridiculed. The Internet bullies are awful. I could post a photo where I feel good, and 500 people will comment about how fat I am, and that I am disgusting. On [red carpets], I just said to myself, 'You have to do your best to look confident and stand up tall, and make yourself look as good as you can in these photos,' because everyone is going to see them. I definitely seemed confident; I'm an actress, that's what we do. But on the inside, I wasn't feeling so happy."
Worse than the ridicule, she says, was dealing with "painful" breasts.
"I had a lot of back problems. I really couldn't stand up straight for a long period of time. It started to hurt so bad that I couldn't take the pain," she tells Glamour.com. "My neck was hurting so bad and I actually had some problems with my spine. I had been discussing my chest with doctors 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.'"
With her doctor's guidance, she decided not to go bigger than a D or smaller than a C. "I have always been a curvier girl. Always. And I enjoy being a curvier girl. I don't want to be disproportionate again," she explains. "I have a big butt, I like having a big butt. I didn't want to have a big butt and no boobs!"
Winter says she wasn't "hesitant" or "sad" before going under the knife.
Before her breast reduction surgery, Winter says the Modern Family wardrobe department would hide her assets with "big sweaters" or by strapping her down. "I understand that it doesn't fit the character they have in mind. I understand that," she tells the magazine. "But it was difficult to do that every day."
How did her co-stars find out?
"I [only] told Julie Bowen because I had talked to her before about my desire to have the surgery. She was really supportive and understanding. I just saw [Sofía Vergara] the other day and she was like, 'Oh my God! I love them! They're great!' I was like, 'This is hilarious.' It's funny, it's like the guys don't want to say anything, so they don't and they just are, like, 'There's a change.' Which is good, I mean...but it's funny now for them to notice and see the reactions," the teenager says. "Everyone is really happy for me and has been super supportive. They understand I've been struggling with this for so many years."
One person who wasn't told about Winter's surgery before or after it happened is her mom, Crystal Workman, from whom she is legally emancipated. "She and I don't speak. She will find out by reading it and that's the way that is. And that's fine. I'm in such a happy place now, and in such a better place now surrounded by people who love me and really support me," she explains, "and that's all I need."
Winter has no regrets about her surgery. "I feel great. It was such a quick recovery for me. I was up and running within five days. The feeling of not having so much there was such a relief! Once the surgery was completed, I can't even explain the feeling. [A week later], I was buying clothes and crying as I put them on, I was so happy. You just feel so relieved and excited," she says. "You feel like a new person."