Being thrust into the limelight at such a young age was at first “a little shocking,” Winter, 18, told “Good Morning America” news anchor Amy Robach in an interview Saturday in Los Angeles.
Along with the public scrutiny came online bullying. The hardest part for her was all the attention that was paid to her curvy body.
“Walking down the red carpet and seeing the photos afterward and having every headline be about my cleavage and -- not about my talent. Not about, ‘Oh, if they liked the dress.’ Not about what I was really there for or anything that I wanted to be put out there. And I thought that was really disappointing that everybody nowadays in the media, what we're talking about is the way people look,” Winter said.
The comments about her body hurt, she said.
“And it's really hard, because people don't think that I read comments ... And I guess it maybe seems like we don't have feelings or we're, like, invincible, but we're really not,” she said, speaking of people who live in the public eye.
Winter decided last year to undergo breast reduction surgery. The procedure took her from a bra size 32F to a 32D.
She explained that it was “awkward” for her to be developing so much as a young girl.
“You know, you're only 12 years old and you're developing a lot,” she said.
‘I Did It for Myself’
She wanted to get the surgery because her situation left her in “excruciating pain.
“I couldn't sit up straight. It was always super uncomfortable for me to sleep. It was uncomfortable to sit. It was uncomfortable to walk,” she said.
She recalled times when she would go shopping with friends and breaking down in dressing rooms because she couldn’t find a bathing suit with a top that would fit her.
“I just didn't feel right and I did it for myself,” Winter said.
Many people believed she had the surgery because she gave in to the negative public pressure. Winter set the record straight.
“That was so not the reason I got it ... I don't care what other people think about me,” she said.
Asked whether the surgery had changed her life, Winter replied: “It really did. It really did. It definitely changed the way I felt about myself. It changed the way I felt physically. It really just gave me so much more confidence that I don't now have to put on. I just feel like I can be confident.”
Winter made more headlines at January’s Screen Actors Guild Awards ceremony when she wore an open-backed gown that revealed her surgical scars.
“The funny part is I didn't even notice them. I didn't think to cover them,” she said of the scars. “I didn't even think twice ... It really astounded me when I was getting a lot of comments from people telling me to put my scars away and that they were gross. And I think that's just so ridiculous considering they're a part of me. They're not going away.”
She added: “There's absolutely nothing wrong with them. And I think that that's really messed up that a lot of people are saying that we can't be beautiful with scars.”
Winter: Industry Over-Sexualizes Women
Winter said she’s “really bothered” by the level of scrutiny women and girls face every day – especially those who work in front of cameras.
“I think it's ridiculous that women are really over-sexualized in the industry and ... on the red carpet we're always going to be judged,” she said.
She added that she found it “really irritating” that men don’t face the same scrutiny over their appearance.