Ariel Winter Sofia Vergara
photo: Getty

Ariel Winter has grown up in front of our eyes on "Modern Family." 

But she's been dealing with a lot off screen — from family drama to undergoing breast reduction surgery and being shamed on social media, she's come out of it all as a strong, body-positive young woman. 

In fact, she's so confident and at peace with herself, it's easy to forget that Ariel is only 18 years old.

Winter recently opened up to SELF about the struggles of growing up in the public eye.

Ariel Winter topless
photo: Twitter/SELF Magazine

She was just a preteen when she took on the role of the sensible middle child, Alex Dunphy, on "Modern Family." The 21-time Emmy Award winning sitcom quickly catapulted Winter — who was only 11 years old at the time of the series debut — to fame. 

Winter went through puberty and experienced major body changes as millions of viewers watched her on their TV screens.

Ariel Winter
photo: Instagram/@arielwinter
"Growing up in the spotlight was quite possibly the worst for my self-esteem. When I started ['Modern Family'], I had a completely different body than what happened overnight at 12 years old. I was stick thin, I had no chest, I had no butt — I had nothing. I was totally flat ... 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," she told SELF's Nina Bahadur. 

Fortunately, the actress was able to turn to her TV aunt, Sofia Vergara, for advice.

Ariel Winter Sofia Vergara
photo: Getty

“I had a great role model in Sofia growing up, with her being a curvy woman that was super proud of who she was and what she looked like,” she said. 

Vergara helped Ariel develop her body confidence.

Ariel Winter body confidence
photo: Instagram/@arielwinter
"She could see that I was struggling a little bit with how to deal with my body, and was always trying to give me advice. Like, ‘Here are some brands that would look good on our body type,’ or ‘Wear whatever you want, and feel good about yourself.'"

Winter remembers this advice when dealing with internet trolls. She says the worst comment she ever received was on a bathing suit photo from a family vacation.

Ariel Winter
photo: Instagram/@arielwinter

A stranger attacked her in the comments, claiming that her "revealing" swimsuit meant she was "asking for it."

"That really disturbed me, and made me incredibly upset," she remembered. "It made me super disappointed in our world."

On top of everything, Winter was legally emancipated from her mother in 2015.

Ariel Winter
photo: Getty

Although she only briefly touched upon the subject in her SELF interview, she made headlines when she sought legal separation from her mother following claims that she was emotionally and physically abusive. Winter now lives with her older sister, Shanelle Workman, who became her legal guardian in 2012. 

The actress lists Shanelle as another one of her body-positive role models.

"It was really helpful for me when I moved in with my sister, because she’s the type of person that is confident in her body,” Winter told SELF. 

It was a difficult journey growing up in the spotlight, but Winter was able to find family in her "Modern Family."

Ariel Winter body positive
photo: Splash News

We all could use an advice-giving, body-positive "aunt" like Sofia Vergara.