What's Really Going On With Ariel Winter

Born on January 28, 1998 in Los Angeles, California, actress Ariel Winter got her big break on ABC's Emmy Award-winning series Modern Family. Joining the cast in 2009 in the role of Alex Dunphy, Winter grew up on camera and transformed from a shy 11-year-old into a bombshell right in front of viewers' eyes. Over the years, the budding actress has also snagged guest appearances on several other popular TV shows, including Criminal Minds, Nip/Tuck and Bones. She's also set her sights on conquering the big screen.

However, it's not her various career achievements that leave people talking most of the time. Rather, it's her risque fashion choices and scandalous social media photos that inevitably cause controversy. The sultry images are a far cry from the sweet little girl who got her start on Modern Family and have left many wondering: What's really going on with Ariel Winter?

Ariel Winter finally overcome her body image issues

You wouldn't know it now, but while appearing on The View in March 2017, Winter admitted that she had secretly dealt with major insecurities and body image issues for a long time. "I struggled for many years with my own confidence with myself," she revealed, adding: "It was a really long journey to find that confidence and I think it's really important because there are tons of young girls, young boys, people that are older than me, that don't really have a lot of people to look up to that are outspoken about things like that."

Winter echoed the same sentiment in a 2016 interview with ET in which she admitted: "For many years, I did my best to try and [crash] diet to lose weight, or change the way I dressed, and change the things I talked about to see if it would help and to see if people would reply more positively to me if I did that. I finally said to myself, 'You know, I'm wasting so much time trying to please other people when I should really should be focusing on the most important relationship I have, which is the one I have with myself.'"

Ariel Winter emancipated herself from her estranged mother

The young actress has made no secret of the fact that she never had a good relationship with her mother. Indeed, controversy has been brewing since 2012, when the then-14-year old was reportedly removed from her home by a judge amid allegations of physical and emotional abuse. Ariel Winter's sister, Shanelle Workman, was subsequently granted temporary, then permanent, guardianship, while her father, Glenn Workman, eventually obtained guardianship over Winter's finances. The lengthy custody battle ended in May 2015 when Winter announced she had been legally emancipated at the age of 17.

She opened up about the matter on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2016, explaining: "It has been very sad for me, but at the same time it's been much better for me emotionally and physically to be on my own and have a better, safer household and support system."

Although she refused to touch on what exactly caused the rift, Winter went on to reveal that neither she nor her sister have a relationship with their mom.

Haters will get no quarter from Ariel Winter

When Ariel Winter showed up on the red carpet for the Season 8 finale of Modern Family in a see-through gold minidress with plenty of sparkle, she was immediately torn apart on social media. While her co-stars wore jeans and much more casual looks for the occasion, Winter confidently walked the carpet in her statement-making outfit.

As mean tweets poured in (including the likes of "That girl @arielwinter1 oozes insecurity and is 2 minutes away from being like or worse than Lindsay Lohan. Sad"), the young star fired back. Posting on Instagram, she wrote: "Why [the f***] does anyone care that I didn't dress casual like everyone else for the panel? Why do I have to be like everyone else? Why can't people just let other people feel good about themselves and do what they want? WEAR WHATEVER YOU WANT PEOPLE As long as you feel good about yourself that's what matters. I know I did. Don't ever let anyone stifle who you are and how you express yourself. Rant over."

Is Ariel Winter ready to settle down already?

Ariel Winter and actor Levi Meaden celebrated their six-month anniversary in style on May 11, 2017. The couple was spotted dining at Catch LA in Hollywood and despite their age difference (Meaden is 10 years older than his girlfriend), the pair seems to be enjoying a happy, healthy relationship.

The 19 year old capped off the evening by posting a funny clip of the pair at Coachella to her Instagram and writing: "Happy 6 month anniversary to my horrendous human being/cheese to my peanut butter ;) I love you baby. Thank you for being so amazing. Here's to many, many more. Xoxo @levi_meaden."

During an interview with Jimmy Kimmel, the actress revealed that Meaden has already moved into her house and that he "cooks [and] takes care of all the handy stuff. "I can bake a pie occasionally," she added, joking: "I'm the worst 'wifely' person!"

Ariel Winter wasted no time shedding her child star persona

Ariel Winter has never been shy about flaunting her curves, but while attending Coachella 2017 with boyfriend Levi Meaden, the actress pushed boundaries even further than usual. In addition to slightly racy look shown above, Winter was also spotted at another time during the event pairing her statement-making neon pink wig with nothing more than a striped bikini on one day and tiny jean shorts paired with a cut up shirt on the other. The white crop top with huge slashes across the chest left very little to the imagination as Winter chose to wear absolutely nothing underneath.

It's clear the actress is unabashedly chasing adulthood. As she told Entertainment Tonight at the April 2017 premiere of Smurfs: The Lost Village, "I definitely [want to do some grown-up stuff next]. That's what I'm looking for. I'm 19. I want to push forward in my adult career."

You probably won't catch Ariel Winter in a MAGA hat

First speaking on the matter with Entertainment Tonight in October 2016, Ariel Winter made her political views perfectly well known when she criticized Donald Trump, declaring: "I think it's really disappointing that we've made so many strides towards promoting body positivity for women — and for men — and for empowering women, and he really kind of just tears it all down."

She went on to reveal her excitement about being able to vote in her first election come 2017, but didn't show much more enthusiasm for the Democratic party, saying: "I'm pretty disappointed that these are the candidates now. We've come so far, yet the candidates don't really reflect the amazing strides we've made."

Fast forward to May 2017 and Winter isn't shying away from posting hate messages directed at the president, like in one since-deleted selfie, in which she's giving him the finger, captioned: "#mood this early Wednesday and all things Trump." 

She's just Ariel Winter from the block

Ariel Winter's appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in May 2017 gave viewers serious flashback vibes to just one week earlier when Jennifer Lopez appeared on The Late Late Show with James Cordon. Why? Because she donned the same exact outfit as J.Lo, created by Australian brand MESHKI.

In addition to taking inspiration from Hollywood's finest, Winter also opted to embrace affordable fashion, as the bodysuit and sparkly, sheer skirt combo she wore for her date with Kimmel retails for just $110. As the brand writes on its site, "this bejewelled midi dress will have you feeling glamorous and looking ultra-luxe. A statement piece which is sure to bring out your flirtatious and sophisticated side."

She's an avid spokesperson for breast reduction surgery

After proudly showing off her scars from breast reduction surgery for the first time at the 2016 SAG Awards (above), Winter was hit with backlash, which she simply refused to accept, tweeting: "Guys there is a reason I didn't make an effort to cover up my scars! They are part of me and I'm not ashamed of them at all. :) "

Since that moment, she's been passionately advocating the benefits of the surgery and in an interview with SELF in 2017, she showed off her unretouched scars yet again in a series of black and white photos. "I recommend it for everybody," she gushed to the mag. "All women that have thought about it and have suffered from having really large breasts and have back problems and just don't feel right in their own skin."

Ariel Winter transformed into a redhead

Winter surprised fans in May 2017 when she revealed red locks following the latest season finale of her hit TV show, Modern Family. As People reports, Ariel Winter has made it a habit of coloring her hair dark for the show, then reverting back to auburn during her time off. Given this pattern, no one was expecting her to unveil a full head of bright red hair.

Documenting her entire transformation on Snapchat, Winter couldn't hold in her excitement as she filmed every single moment at the salon, even captioning one of the clips of her in a shower cap with this cheeky line: "Lookin sexual."

Don't accuse Ariel Winter of using Photoshop

As soon as Winter posted a scantily clad selfie of herself showing off her new red hair for summer 2017, the haters were out in full force, accusing the starlet of Photoshopping her pic. As one followers named @_rpk_ asked, "Does no one else notice the blurred out lines on the right side of the leg?"

Well, the young actress sure wasn't okay with all of the skepticism and, in true Winter fashion, she held nothing back as she responded (via Hollywood Life): "This is the real me. I don't Photoshop my photos. People look different at different angles."

Ariel Winter was a UCLA Bruin ... for a minute

After graduating from high school in 2016, Ariel Winter publicly shared her plans to attend UCLA and complete a degree in political science, but as she revealed to E! in September 2016, "unfortunately this year, due to production schedule, I have to start next year. So I will be starting as a [UCLA] Bruin next year." Come May 2017, the starlet confirmed to Access Hollywood that she was indeed getting ready to attend her very first classes in the fall and feeling both nervous and excited about the new experience. But her college days wouldn't last. 

Due to the demands of the Modern Family production schedule, Winter stopped attending UCLA almost as soon as she started. Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter about the decision in July 2019, Winter said that she "overestimated" her ability to balance school and work, and that she "wasn't really able to get to the majority of [her] classes." The back-up plan? To keep working and diversifying the kinds of roles she'll take once Modern Family ends in April 2020. And as far as pursuing higher education, Winter has re-set her goals to possibly "studying for a psychology degree online."