Ariel Winter Pens Essay on Breast Reduction: 'Having So Much Weight on My Frame Was Affecting Me Psychologically'

Ariel Winter Pens Essay on Life-Changing Breast Reduction Surgery
Ariel Winter

02/25/2016 AT 09:45 AM EST

Ariel Winter is feeling confident and strong.

Ever since she was criticized at the SAG Awards for wearing a dress that showed her breast reduction surgery scars, the Modern Family star, who just celebrated a big 18th birthday Jan. 28, has been opening up about the life-changing procedure.

"Women are already over-sexualized, and I grew into my body so young. I was 13, 14 years old, and I looked 19," Winter writes about suddenly being just over five feet tall and developing F-cup breasts, in an essay for Motto, a new website from the editors of Time.

"Suddenly, people didn't want to talk about my job – they just wanted to talk about my cleavage. I'd go to awards shows and the next day see everyone on the Internet telling me I shouldn't look like this and dress like that. The conversation became about my looks instead of my talent and work – everything that I didn't want."

But Winter had her own, personal reasons for undergoing the surgery.

"People may find it hard to believe, but when I got my breast-reduction surgery last year, it wasn't because of the mean comments online," she says. "It wasn't because I didn't like how I looked. Having so much weight on my frame was affecting me psychologically. I was uncomfortable and unhappy. I chose surgery because of how I felt, not because of what anyone else thought."

RELATED VIDEO: Ariel Winter Defends Showing Off Her Breast Reduction Scars at the SAG Awards

And Winter immediately felt the weight (both literally and figuratively) lift off her shoulders after the surgery.

"Afterward, I automatically felt so much happier and just better physically," she says. "My back and shoulders didn't hurt anymore! The first thing I wanted to do was go clothing shopping because I was so excited to be able to find things that fit properly instead of hiding in a baggy sweater. That meant the world to me."

Ariel Winter Pens Essay on Breast Reduction: 'Having So Much Weight on My Frame Was Affecting Me Psychologically'| Body shaming, Modern Family, Bodywatch, Plastic Surgery, Ariel Winter

Ariel Winter and Laurent Claude Gaudette

Jonathan Leibson / Getty

And Winter is clearly loving life now. The actress hit the red carpet Wednesday night with her boyfriend, Laurent Claude Gaudette, for the Vanity Fair and FIAT Toast to "Young Hollywood" event, in a slinky black strapless minidress.
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