Ariel Winter has opened up about the pressures of being exposed to a great deal of criticism, particularly concerning her appearance, at a young age when she landed her breakout role in ‘Modern Family’ when she was just 11 years old.

At the season eight finale screening of the long-running ABC comedy series in Pasadena, California, the now-19 year old star recalled being commented upon by tweeters at an age when she couldn’t really hit back, remembering people calling her “awkward”, “fat” and “ugly”.

“We were criticized a lot. And I was criticized especially being the youngest girl out of the cast. And it was definitely hard,” she told Entertainment Tonight on Wednesday (May 3rd) outside the Wolf Theatre.

Ariel WinterAriel Winter at the SAG Awards in 2017

However, she said that her castmates Sofia Vergara and Julie Bowen mentored her through those tough times as she also progressed through her teenage years.

“The show helped me a lot. I was surrounded by so many great people that were really supportive of me and really, you know, wanted me to thrive,” Winter added, “and told me all the time that they believed in me and thought I should be confident and all those things.”

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Asked what she had learned and what advice she would offer to other girls and young women who are facing scrutiny over their body image, the ‘Sofia the First’ Disney Junior star said: “Well, first of all, the way we are is beautiful. I mean, that's who we're supposed to be, you know?”

“Also, at the end of the day, the only person you should be trying to make happy is yourself and not other people. And I think that that's the most important lesson we've all had to learn throughout the years. It's definitely that pleasing yourself is most important before anybody else.”

As well as promoting ‘Modern Family’, which is going as strongly as ever in its eighth year since it began in 2009, Winter is currently plugging new film Smurfs: The Lost Village, in which she has a starring voiceover role.

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