Ariel Winter: ‘I got called a fat sl-t when I was 13. That was rough’


Ariel Winter was recently on Red Table Talks: The Estefans with hosts Gloria, Lili and Emily Estefan and fellow guest Lauren Jauregui from Fifth Harmony. The subject was bullying and cyberbullying. It’s a hard episode. Even knowing how bad it gets, listening to what these ladies went through, it broke my heart. Ariel spoke about everything she experienced as she was growing from child to young woman in the public eye in her role as Alex Dunphy on the sitcom Modern Family. Remember that not only was Ariel dealing with puberty, a changing body and fame, she lived in a toxic household, from which she had to emancipate herself at the age of 17. On Red Table Talks, Ariel discussed how bad she got it online. She said she navigated comments such as “fat sl-t” and “whore” when she was just 13.

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.”

“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.”

“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.

“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.’ “

[From People]

I remember all the discussions about Ariel’s outfits. They were still going on last year at the Modern Family wrap party when Ariel was 22. She makes a good point about people confusing her for Alex. Especially if they saw themselves in Alex, they couldn’t reconcile that Ariel didn’t represent Alex 24/7. But she wasn’t Alex, she was Ariel and shouldn’t have to see those horrible comments about her. Nobody should, especially not at such an impressionable age when you believe what people call you. It really got to me when she talked about feeling the need to change so many things just to get these anonymous people who’d been cruel to her online to like her. Ariel said that she has a therapist she loves now and while she’s still working on her self-esteem, she’s only aiming to please herself these days and trying not to worry about what other people are saying about her.

All three guests on the show told stories that centered around weight. The third guess was a mother whose daughter died by suicide after being tormented by others online. Again, her bullies body shamed her. She tried many diets and it never helped. Eventually she thought there was no reason to go through life. That’s tragic. Like Ariel, the poor girl was about 12-13 when she was stripped of her confidence. I don’t have stories as tragic as these, but I have stories. The fat comments started for me around 3rd grade. Fortunately, that was just on the playground because the Internet hadn’t been invented yet. And I wasn’t on an award-winning comedy, like Ariel. It’s sounds like she’s finding a good balance now. And she seems happy with her boyfriend, Luke Benward. They’ve been together for two years. Hopefully he’s as good as he seems.




Photo credit: Instagram

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

37 Responses to “Ariel Winter: ‘I got called a fat sl-t when I was 13. That was rough’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. In a weird way, this might be one of the more normal experiences Ariel has had. It’s awful & terrible, but I was called fat slut at puberty, and worse, by my dad & well, I went to an all girls’ school, so we all had sharp teeth & claws. It’s MUCH worse & amplified for Ariel, who I adore, but sadly, it’s a very common experience.

    • bettyrose says:

      I am so sorry to hear that! It’s so gross that young girls, who have no control over how puberty shapes their body, are slut and body shamed because pornography and sexual predators fetishize bodies that outpace emotional maturity.

    • Ronaldinhio says:

      I wonder if this is why she has had some many tweekments?
      I wouldn’t have recognised her and I watched the entire show

  2. FHMom says:

    No person, especially a child, should ever have to hear or see comments like that. It’s inhumane. Also, on a related note, anti-depressants are notorious for causing weight gain. It’s especially cruel because it adds to a person’s issues of self esteem. The pharma industry needs to do better.

    • Marietta2381 says:

      This 100%. I was put on anti-depressants/anti-anxiety meds when I was 20. I finally got off of them in 2015, after 14 years, because I didn’t have insurance. I am 5’1″ and ballooned up to 192lbs. I lost the weight finally in 2016, but damn, people would ask me if I was pregnant. I can’t imagine going through that at 13.

      The Pharma industry also doesn’t tell you that when you’re on anti-anxiety/depression meds that they actually cause anxiety. It’s disturbing. I quit cold turkey and had the worst anxiety ever for about 6 months. Then magically it all disappeared. Now, no anxiety at all… weird how once it’s totally out of your system you don’t have the issue you originally took the meds for. Now I do natural stuff to ward off depression and am much better for it!

      • Merricat says:

        Anti-depressants saved the life of my best friend. It’s great if “natural stuff” helps you, but for many, that is the road to self-destruction.

      • terra says:

        Agree 100%, @Merricat. Not everyone is the same, different things work for different people . . . all that jazz. Warning people off and saying ‘oh, go natural, it worked for me,’ is the kind of thing that seems harmless, but can actually be quite dangerous. Plus, it can make people feel worse sometimes, like, ‘this person didn’t need drugs to be a normal person, there must be something wrong with me that I do.’

        Not to mention, quitting cold turkey is probably WHY your anxiety increased, @Marietta2381. My cousin quit taking their anti-depressant cold turkey and ending up jumping from the rooftop of a 20+ story building within weeks.

        It also may have been that the particular drug you were taking just didn’t agree with you. Zoloft turns me into a wreck but works wonders for my little brother. Wellbutrin has been fantastic for my grandmother but made me stomach revolt. Prozac on the other hand? Absolutely wonderful, a revelation almost from the day I start taking it, yet terrible for my aunt.

        TL;DR? There’s a lot of trial and error when it comes to anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs, unfortunately. You have to slog through some pretty rough times to find what works sometimes, but when you do it can be life changing.

    • Ann says:

      They do cause weight gain, and they always tell you that they won’t or at least, it won’t be much weight, “maybe eight pounds.” I gained 30 pounds on mine with no changes to diet or exercise. If anything, I ate less. I started researching on line, finding other people on the same medicine, same thing: about 30-35 pounds. Every.Single.Person.

      I also went through my worst phase when weaning off that medicine. It was horrible. I had to go through a couple of major family events (one with me in charge) during that time and I barely got through it. I was catatonic. But once I was through the tunnel, I felt really good. I still take something, but a much smaller dose. I can handle the minor weight gain. But 30 pounds? No way.

  3. Otaku fairy says:

    In the past she mentioned that at some point in her teens she was feeling suicidal because of these kinds of comments being directed at her too. It’s good that so many women are finding their voices and being heard on serious subjects like this. Even for the ones who have been speaking on it from experience for a long time, it likely comes as a relief to see it being taken a little bit more seriously now.

    For years, liberals who sympathized with (and let’s be real, often WERE some of) the misogynists slut-shaming her made Ariel Winter out to be a spoiled, crazed diva bitch just for speaking up about it as an adult, despite her overall good behavior. It’s actually amazing how together she is and what a good head she has on her shoulders though.

    Here’s that social experiment where boys showed up to school in the same outfits as girls:

    • NorthernGirl_20 says:


      • Anners says:

        Well, to be frank, fat shaming and body policing is still quite socially acceptable on both the left and the right side of politics. It’s starting to be a part of the conversation, so I’m hopeful that things will start to change soon, but ya – fatphobia is universal. And it sucks.

      • Otaku fairy says:

        Yeah, unfortunately. Some of it even happened here, but it was definitely worse in other places. You expect that kind of behavior from religious people and conservatives- why would they be concerned about victim-blaming and the ways dehumanizing language puts people at risk, when putting ‘sinners’ at risk, then smiling and blaming whatever happens on the ‘sin’ is the whole point from the start?
        When the ones saying take the abuse, submit, “be chastened”, shut up, and take the blame are not conservatives, it’s actual hypocrisy.

  4. wordnerd says:

    Not only was she growing up on TV, but her co-star/TV sister was incredibly thin, which had to have been extra difficult when she was struggling with her own weight. I remember being in 5th grade and staring at my thighs vs. my skinny friend’s thighs, thinking I was fat. 5th grade! That’s what, 10 years old? It amazes me how naturally the body shaming and self-loathing comes to young girls and sticks with them for life.

  5. detritus says:

    We gonna talk about how CB commenters also behaved this way?

    I remember how nasty the comments were from ostensibly kind women.

    • Myra says:

      I haven’t forgotten.

    • Krystina says:

      I haven’t forgotten.
      It still happens on multiple posts here.

    • BeeCee says:

      Ding ding ding! Yes to this

    • Misskitten says:

      There are a lot of CB commentors. You cannot hold ANY CB commentor responsible for other commentors’ comments, esp from a long time ago. Honestly, I wouldn’t see anything wrong with you going back into past Ariel posts, looking to see which commentors were nasty, and which commentors kept their mouth shut about the nastiness, and if any of them are here commenting today, address them directly. I say this because I know for a fact that I have NEVER commented on Ariel posts before today, so I’m safe! Ha ha But no seriously, it could be the case that NONE of those commentors are here commenting today. And there are probably commentors here who weren’t even reading Celebitchy then. It just seems that the manner in which you “called out” CB commentors here was pretty half assed and based on a BUNCH of (easily incorrect) assumptions AND might not have hit any intended targets. Unless of course your beef is actually about Celebitchy in general, and not just previous nasty Ariel commentors.
      Also, I think it’s also important to point out that calling or implying that someone (or many) is a hypocrite is an inherently weak argument because EVERYONE is a hypocrite at one time or another. NO ONE is an exception. If there are commentors here who were previously mean in their Ariel comments, and today are being nice, isn’t that a good thing??? Maybe those commentors have gained some self worth of their own and no longer feel the need to tear others down? It’s been known to happen

      • detritus says:

        You ok there? Notallcbers!

      • Krystina says:

        This isn’t even just about Ariel. It’s about almost EVERY single post that involves female celebrities. Up to, and including today.

      • Otaku fairy says:

        Krystina is right, it’s been a problem on so many other posts besides Ariel Winter posts. The other part is that certain abusers(?) keep coming back and keep attempting to cyberbully posters for discussing problems like these, without having to face any long-term consequences. Even when their behaviors include comparing queer people and feminists to sexual predators for defending young people who have been subjected to homophobia and misogyny, making up fake sexual trauma stories about people just to win internet arguments, mocking victims when it’s someone they don’t like, and racism.

    • Rosemary says:

      ding ding ding! Even the CB writers did the same but afraid of being cancelled the past few years, quickly changing their tune.

      • Otaku fairy says:

        To be fair, nobody is perfect. But the fact that the past can’t be changed doesn’t mean that something can’t be done now or moving forward. There’s no good reason why someone who compares queer people and women to pedophiles and pimps for talking about these kinds of gross behaviors should still be here in 2021 or 2022, with the way that trope is used to harm our communities. People have been banned for much lesser annoyances, and allowing someone to keep coming back after that kind of behavior will encourage them to try to one-up themselves. Nobody should be enabled after making up sexual trauma stories about people they don’t like period. There’s snark, and then there’s someone stooping to some inhumane lows on the internet just because they’re afraid of diversity.

  6. reef says:

    Idk how old she was at the time, but Garden Party dress is the only time I’ve ever thought, “Baby what are you doing?” and then I realized this is not my concern. Who is she hurting?

  7. whatWHAT? says:

    she looks GORGEOUS with the red hair. I hope she keeps it.

  8. observer says:

    i’ve had an eating disorder since i was 11 (i’m 30) and sadly none of this surprises me or shocks me. it saddens me, yes, but in a very numb way, because i’ve been so very close to all of this for so long.

  9. Lemons says:

    No one should make hurtful comments about Ariel’s body.
    But Ariel should also read the room and dress for the occasion. If she doesn’t want to do that, then that’s fine! I just found some of her outfits to be reflective of poor taste than anything else. But she was and is young.

    I find the recent photos posted here to be a major shift to what we were seeing on gossip blogs before.

    • detritus says:

      How about just leave the kid alone? It’s no one’s place to tell her she’s dressing too sexy or not except her sister. Harping on her does nothing to dissolve the variety of factors that make young women seek male attention.

      And let’s not pretend much of it was based in the fact she isn’t Kendall Jenner ectomorph build

    • Otaku fairy says:

      It’s not really a shift. Sometimes she dresses modestly, other times she does not, like a lot of women when left to their own devices. Sometimes it’s for male attention (which can be for negative or neutral reasons, just like young men wanting male attention isn’t always a bad thing), other times a woman just doesn’t feel she should have to be conservatively dressed anyway or thinks something looks good.

  10. Misskitten says:

    I have to say, any child actor that comes out of it retaining an IOTA of self worth, is made of steel. At this point, any parent that allows their child into the world of entertainment must AGGRESSIVELY take measures to ensure that the child’s feet remain on the ground, and ensure that acting/singing/whatever is not “all s/he has” and that the child has a life outside of it, and make CERTAIN that their child is surrounded by emotionally healthy children and emotionally healthy people, for that matter. Those are just SOME of the things that I think are a parents responsibility to their child, should that child become an entertainer. I don’t think Ariels parents did any of those things, it’s a miracle she’s not another Lindsay Lohan.
    Also, I am EXTREMELY excited because Ariel has given me new faith that I (a raven-haired lass with coloring almost identical to Ariel) CAN pull off red hair! I have already screen shot the header pic to send to colorists! She looks amazing! I think finding the RIGHT shade of red hair for non-red heads has got to be one of most colorists biggest (and most frequent) challenges

  11. Meg says:

    Being called a whore at 13-just wow sexualizing a child, shaming her changing body and holding her responsible for the sexual connotation you have due to her changing body? If she’s too young to dress or look like that then she’s too young for you to be sexualizing her
    This so reminds me of being shamed by my mom for my body because again women are told we’re responsible for how others feel about us and our bodies

    • Otaku fairy says:

      All of this. Sometimes people just get tired of the endless Dressing To Not Be Abused & Bullied performance that’s demanded of young women, and of queer people too for that matter. When an ally’s reaction to that fatigue and that desire to go in the opposite direction is basically “shut up bitch and take what you already knew was coming”, that ally becomes a part of the violence.

  12. Delphine says:

    They didn’t call me fat slut, they called me ugly. To my face. The saddest part is you start to believe them. I felt ugly until I was about 19.

  13. Trillion says:

    Her hair and makeup is GORGEOUS.