"Slut," "fat," "no class" and "hooker" are just some of the words that have recently appeared in comments on Ariel Winter's Instagram page.
The Modern Family actress is just 18 years old, but since entering the public eye she has been a constant target for body and slut shamers. Though she might now feel confident enough to clap back at haters, this wasn't always the case. In fact, she tells Mic, it took years for her to accept and love her body the way it is.
"I have been getting hate on all of my social media platforms since I started the show, like seven or eight years ago," Winter said when we sat down with her to discuss her new role as a member of Dove's #SpeakBeautiful squad, a campaign meant to promote positivity online. "It's been a journey for me. In the beginning I was really depressed and sad because I didn't know how to change their opinion and I wanted so badly to change their opinions of me and to make it positive."
"I tried to conform to what I thought they wanted and after a while it didn't work," she continued. "Nothing I did worked for them."
Instead of changing her body to fit someone else's standards, she decided to work on the relationship she had with herself.
"People are going to hate regardless of what I do, and I think for years I tried so hard because I thought maybe if I lost weight or if I dressed differently or if I tried something else, they would finally like me and write something nice on my page," Winter said. "I wish when I was younger I would've just had the same whatever attitude that I have now and not try to conform to their standards."
She now wears and posts whatever she wants regardless of what the trolls might say. "It's unnecessary to listen to other people's opinion about yourself because the only opinion that matters, and that should matter to you, is your own opinion," she said. "I worked really hard to feel good about myself to the point where if I want to post something, I don't care what people are going to say about me. I only care that I feel good about something that I posted. That's what matters to me."
Winter has time and time again spoken about the importance of body positivity and embracing who you are regardless of what others might say, making this partnership with Dove a seemingly perfect match.
And she plans to continue to speak out about image issues plaguing young men and women.
There is so much negativity on the internet, [and] in person that I think it's really important for me to be able to be a voice for younger people that are growing up in what I grew up in. I had a lot of really amazing role models that helped me through it, and they are part of the reason that I moved forward and that I am able to have a good relationship with myself... It's really important for me to be that for somebody else. It's helpful when it's somebody you look up to that is speaking out about something. It makes you want to listen to it more.
For more on Winter's involvement with #SpeakBeautiful, and her journey to self acceptance, see the video below: