Ariel Winter is honestly just a treasure, isn’t she?
Lately it’s been mostly because of all the body positivity stuff — girl is the best in the game at rocking some scandalous clothing and being completely unapologetic for it.
Because really, why should she have to apologize for wearing short shorts or revealing tops?
But while Ariel’s amazing crusade against body-shaming is something to be proud of for sure, and while it’s definitely one of our favorite topics to discuss, that’s not exactly why we’re here today.
Nope, the topic today is Ariel’s sad childhood and the amazing strength she’s shown in overcoming it.
You probably know at least a little about the story — it was big news a few years ago.
Essentially, after being investigated by child protective services, Ariel was removed from her mother’s care when she was 14 and temporary custody was given to her older sister.
Then, when she was 15, she was emancipated.
Those are the basics, but the full story, which Ariel is sharing in a new interview with the Hollywood Reporter, is quite a bit more disturbing.
As she tells it, she began acting when she was just four years old — not necessarily because she really wanted to, but because it was what her mother, Crystal Workman, wanted.
Throughout the beginnings of her acting career, her mother informed her that she wasn’t allowed to associate with other girls at all, “because females are competition.”
She says that her mom put an insane amount of pressure on her — “You don’t get to mess up when you have somebody around you who is constantly watching.”
Her mother also made sure that Ariel’s access to food was “very, very restricted,” so that she wouldn’t gain too much weight.
That part is especially concerning, seeing as how she began her career when she was just four years old and her mother was in charge for years after, throughout her most formative years.
She also wasn’t able to go to school very often, because acting trumped education.
As for her father, she says that “He just opted out a little bit,” and he was never really around.
And just when you thought things couldn’t get any sadder, she adds that from the time she was about seven years old, she was dressed in “the smallest miniskirts, sailor suits, low-cut things, the shortest dresses you’ve ever seen.”
“People thought I was 24 when I was 12.”
Even more disturbing is the fact that she says “If there was going to be a nude scene when I was that age, my mother would have a thousand percent said yes.”
The adults on the Modern Family set (she began working on the show when she was 11 years old) also noticed that things weren’t quite right.
The on-set tutor reveals to the magazine that “I would order a couple lunches in my name so Ariel could eat one of them. I could tell she was hungry.”
“Boiled chicken and cucumbers isn’t going to do it for a growing kid.”
The tutor also claims that “Her mother kept her out late at night at these ridiculous parties. She was 12 and 13 years old and had to be on set at 6:30, 7:00.”
When she was around 14, Ariel says that she “went through a really rough period, a really bad chapter.”
Her old teacher says that although she’d been concerned for her wellbeing for years, she wanted to wait until she asked her specifically to get help, and in 2012 she did.
“Ariel told me she was ready,” the woman says. “She was very scared … She knew the consequences.”
At first Ariel thought she’d have to go into foster care, and she was prepared to do so, but then her older sister was able to step in and take custody.
And you know the rest.
Thankfully, she’s doing much, much better these days — she’s going to therapy and doing some catch-up work with her education.
This month she’s even beginning college classes at UCLA!
“The reason I’m going to college,” she explains, “is because I do want knowledge in another field. College isn’t the college experience for me.”
“I’m not going to be in a sorority, I’m not going to network, I’m not even really going to make my lifelong friends. I’ve had the career experience. I’ve had the experience of taking care of myself.”
“I’m going to college because I genuinely want to learn,” she says.
She’s not sure what exactly she wants to study, but she does say that she wants to be able to start a charity and to help people who’ve been through similar experiences.
“Even though I wish I had a better childhood,” she says, “I wouldn’t trade it, because it made me who I am today.”
“I still respect the people that hurt me.”
Yeah, we feel like despite all she’s been through, Ariel is going to be just fine.