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Ariel Winter bares surgery scars, talks self-esteem: 'I feel good about my decisions'

The actress gets candid about body-shamers, personal pride and how she found her confidence.
/ Source: TODAY

Ariel Winter is proud of her decisions and her body — and if anyone doubts that, all they have to do is take a look at her smiling face in these photos.

Winter bared her curves and the scars from her breast reduction surgery in a series of black-and-white shots for Self magazine. But the confidence on display in the photos was hard fought for by the young actress.

"Growing up in the spotlight was quite possibly the worst for my self-esteem," she explained in an interview with Self. "I had a hard time finding confidence within myself. When I started ('Modern Family'), I had a completely different body than what happened overnight at 12 years old."

Such a sudden transformation would have been a challenge for any tween, but Winter's high-profile made it even harder to navigate.

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"I was stick thin, I had no chest, I had no butt — I had nothing," she said of her body before puberty. "Then automatically, overnight, my body changed drastically. I was a D cup and had a bigger butt, and my waist was expanding. Everything was getting bigger. I automatically got this hate and judgment online."

And that kind of response got bigger with time, too.

"If I went to the Emmys, or if I even went to the grocery store, there would be an article the next day being like ‘Ariel Winter (had) her boobs out at this event!’ Just really negative things that weren’t helpful for me," she recalled.

Luckily she had an ally — and an inspiration — nearby on the set of her sitcom.

"I had a great role model in Sofia (Vergara) growing up, with her being a curvy woman that was super proud of who she was and what she looked like," the 18-year-old said.

But eventually, Winter became her own role model, sure of herself and her choices — like that surgery that she now calls "the greatest choice I made."

RELATED: Ariel Winter gets cheeky defending revealing Instagram photos

“It was hard for me in the beginning to deal with people’s comments and deal with everybody having an opinion on absolutely everything I did," Winter added. "It was hard for me to not fall prey to wanting to change the way I felt and the way I did things and the way I looked because of what other people said. But as I got older, I started to realize that as long as I’m positive in my life and as long as I feel good about my decisions and stick to how I feel and the things I want to do, that’s what’s most important. And that’s what’s going to get me through in life.”