Ariel Winter, after her breast reduction surgery. (Source: Instagram.)
The news that Ariel Winter, the 17 year old actress from sitcom Modern Family, had a breast reduction, has been met with a curiously congratulatory reaction.
Not because she dealt with something that had been causing her physical and mental anguish – for that, we say bravo – but because she looks “better”.
It’s a backhanded compliment that completely ignores Winter’s resounding message: that she finally feels a physical and emotional freedom.
Recently, Winter gave Glamour magazine an exclusive interview about the procedure which reduced her breasts from a 32F to a 34D (that’s 10F to 12D, in Australian sizes). In the interview, Winter expressed her joy at being free from the physical pain and public scrutiny that her breasts had attracted.
“It started to hurt so bad that I couldn’t take the pain. My neck was hurting so bad and I actually had some problems with my spine,” said Winter of her pre-surgery breasts.
“Every article that has to do with me on a red carpet always had to do with ‘Ariel Winter’s Crazy Cleavage!’ Or ‘Ariel Winter Shows Huge Boobs At An Event!’ That’s all people would recognize me by, not, “Oh, she does great work on Modern Family,” told Winter to Glamour.
And yet, even though Winter has spoken out about her physical and emotional discomfort, the reactions to her breast reduction have taken a disappointingly superficial turn.
“Good choice, she looks better,” wrote one commenter on Daily Mail's story. “How refreshing to see a young beautiful girl in the limelight have a reduction rather than an increase,” crowed another.
Comments such as these suggest that the choices women make about their bodies are black and white, and full of fun variety. Do you want chicken or beef? Big or small boobies? Hey, guess what. For some, it’s more about personal comfort and freedom, rather than what’s most tasty.
Winter eloquently reflected on her surgery, saying: “I was really so thrilled about it and the idea of not being burdened with these any longer… I was so happy. You just feel so relieved and excited. You feel like a new person. You feel like this is how I was supposed to be.”
Note that she did not say, “My boobies are smaller now! Aren’t they cute?” Oh no. Would you expect anything less from the girl who plays the wise-cracking, driven Alex Dunphy?
Prior to her surgery, Winter became an unofficial poster girl for age-appropriate, “curvy” attire.
“Ariel Winter Shows Every Curvy Teen How To Dress For Prom With This Beautiful Gown,” praised one headline.
“16-Year-Old Ariel Winter’s SAG Awards Dress Is A Win For Every Curvy Girl Who Got Stressed Over Style,” sang another.