Ariel Winter, who plays brainy middle child Alex Dunphy on "Modern Family," visited "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" Monday, where she described how growing up in the public eye has shaped her as a person and an actress.
Winter, 18, is enrolled in a "real high school," has dreams of becoming a lawyer, and is currently in applying for college.
She's found that the common thread between both her performing life and her "normal" life as a high-schooler has simply been the fact that "criticism always hits people, regardless of how old they are or how far they've come."
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"You know, we all have insecurities," she told DeGeneres, referring implicitly toher much-publicized breast reduction surgery. "And I'm not gonna say that I'm totally above it and it doesn't hurt me. It does, but I've learned a little bit to be able to brush it off."
Winter went on to mention that she's been "dealing with criticism since [she] was 12 years old."
"[It] was already very hard to grow up in front of the public and also have your body changing, and then go through a surgery, which I decided to make public because I thought it was very important to talk to women about it in general, because i know there are so many people who have been in my position who needed the surgery."
In time, supportive voices have drowned out Winter's critics, she said.
"Although I got backlash from that and criticism and everything, at the end of the day, it was what I needed to do," she said. "The people that supported me are the people that matter in my life."
This isn't the actress' first time getting honest about her breast reduction surgery. In an emotional essay for Motto, she wrote that her cleavage was an impediment to her success: "I was 13, 14 years old, and I looked 19. Suddenly, people didn't want to talk about my job — they just wanted to talk about my cleavage.
"I'd go to awards shows and the next day see everyone on the Internet telling me I shouldn't look like this and dress like that. The conversation became about my looks instead of my talent and work — everything that I didn't want," she said.
"Having so much weight on my frame was affecting me psychologically. I was uncomfortable and unhappy. I chose surgery because of how I felt, not because of what anyone else thought."