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"Modern Family" Star Ariel Winter Reflected On The Online Vitriol She Faced After Hitting Puberty On The Show: "I'm Not My Character"

"They're like, 'How did you go from Alex Dunphy to being a whore?"

Ariel Winter opened up about the body-shaming she experienced as a teenager while filming Modern Family.

Ariel at a red carpet event with bright lipstick

On an episode of Red Table Talk: The Estefans, Ariel explained how online trolling dramatically increased once she turned 12. "My body fully changed. I was curvy; I had boobs," she began.

"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 [points to chest] — and the headlines were dark. 'Fat slut' was rough for me, and it continued."

A younger Ariel with braces posing at a red carpet event in a halter floral lace dress

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

Ariel wearing eyeglasses and holding a laptop as Alex Dunphy

"For them, they're like, 'How did you go from Alex Dunphy to being 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.'"

A new wave of comments came when Ariel started antidepressants in high school and her body changed again. "I gained 30 pounds," she explained. "It was rough going to school. It was rough online; on my Instagram it was like, 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.'"

Ariel as Alex Dunphy with her dad Phil Dunphy standing beside her

"After I spent so many times trial-and-erroring with my appearance, and every time I changed something, something else was wrong," she continued, explaining how she tried various diets and more or less revealing outfits before realizing nothing would make people happy.

Ariel at an event in an off-the-shoulder dress

"You can put your titties out there and feel good about it," she added. "I can put what I want about me online. To tell me that I'm looking for it — that I'm asking for the dick pics in my DMs, that I'm asking for all the things that are disgusting to read... [There was] an overwhelming amount of negativity and sexualization that was really dark."

As for how Ariel is coping with things now, she said, "I'm definitely still on a journey. I've been in therapy twice a week for years. I love my therapist. I love my time in therapy."

Ariel has been candid about how body-shaming affected her in the past. She said last year, "I think it's difficult for any child actor, though that's a really hated-on term, but for any child actor to grow up on TV in front of millions of people because millions of people then think they [...] know you really well and think they can comment on everything you wear or everything you do or how you grow up and change" — a sentiment that was echoed by her Modern Family co-star Sarah Hyland.

You can watch Ariel's full Red Table Talk interview here.