The actress opens up about cyber bullying and body shaming, her breast reduction surgery, and why Sofia Vergara is her body-pos role model
The internet trolling and cyber-bullying girls face today are constant forces that can have a hugely damaging effect on body confidence and self-esteem. That's why Dove launched their #SpeakBeautiful campaign to help "the next generation of girls learn how to overcome and combat online negativity." (New research from the brand reveals that 8 out of 10 women encounter negative comments on social media that critique women’s looks.) Dove even teamed up with Twitter to help "change how beauty is reflected to women on social media" and make the platform a more positive, troll-free place. Serving as an ambassador for the campaign is Modern Family star Ariel Winter, who grew up experiencing body shaming on a magnified level. We sat down with the 18-year-old actress to discuss her experience with cyber-bullying and online negativity, and why she's trying to change the conversation. (Here, see more body-positive women in Hollywood.)
On growing up being body-shamed and cyber-bullied: "I've faced body shaming and cyber bullies for about seven or eight years now that I've been in the spotlight. At 11 years old, I started working on the show and I was super flat and had no curves and was getting hate for that. Then overnight, my body changed and I was this curvy woman. I didn't know how to navigate that and got so much hate for it. It was really hurtful, and I struggled a lot. I tried to crash diet to lose weight to try to fit the standard of what I thought everyone wanted me to look like, and it just never worked—I wasn't making anyone else happier, and I definitely wasn't making myself any happier. It led to a lot of depression and anxiety. But now I'm at the point where I've stopped reading Instagram comments. I do what I want, I post what I want, and I say what I want. I don't focus on pleasing anyone else but myself."
On the body-pos movement: "It's a really difficult time for young women to grow up in with everything on social media and having such negative comments on everything nowadays. It's so important to teach young women and men to "speak beautifully" so they don't have to grow up with such negativity. I have really young nieces—two, five, seven, and eight—so it was really eye-opening for me to realize that if I don't try to change this, my nieces are going to have to live through this and feel the way I did too. I've had so many great role models in my life, especially Sofia Vergara, so it felt necessary for me to speak out and give back in a way and be that support system for other girls."
On loving your body at all stages: "I think it's ridiculous that [because I've had breast reduction surgery] or because someone is losing weight that they don't love their body. People should be able to love their bodies at all stages, whatever their body looks like. I got a lot of confused people after my surgery being like, 'Well, you're trying to tell people to love their bodies just the way they are, but you got a breast reduction', and you know, the thing is, my body was great back then but I did something because I felt it was better for me. I had back problems, and I felt I wasn't right in my own skin, so I made the change for me. I didn't do it because people were writing negative comments online. As long as you do something that matters to you and makes you feel better, and raises your self-esteem, then people shouldn't hate on that. The most important relationship we have is with ourselves."