Emmy Awards Fug or Fab or Scandalous Carpet: Ariel Winter


I am going to stick up for Ariel Winter here a bit. For those of you who don’t watch Modern Family, Ariel here is the 13-year old actress who plays the middle child of Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell. (You might also know her from the last season of ER, or voice work she does on Phineas and Ferb.) And she is getting a lot of Internet flack for wearing this gown to the Emmys last night:

A few things first: This photographs better than it did on the red carpet — there, it looked almost stuffy and matronly somehow, as if it belonged on someone forty years her senior; here you can see the delicacy of the lace, and the fact that it appears to be pink and not white (on E, we couldn’t tell), and the whole endeavor seems more girly. But the issue everyone has with it is her cleavage. People are clutching their pearls over whether she is showing too much boob for a 13-year old. And while, yes, that seems a bit young for boob, I kinda want to give her a hug this morning. Because, think about it: She’s 13. That’s the transitional age. That’s right at the beginning of that awkward period Britney Spears wrote about in “I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman,” and as cheesy as it is to quote that in a sincere way, she’s, like, totally sagacious, y’all.  If anyone knows how cracked out that time can be, it’s probably Britney. So Ariel is playing out her maturation in front of everyone — she can’t control how her chest is growing, after all — which is a really tough row to hoe. Especially when your co-stars are these people:

Julie Bowen was in a plunging-neck slinky gown; Sarah Hyland had a sexy leg slit, and Sofia Vergara is Sofia Vergara. Imagine being Ariel Winter, being the youngest of that group, and being expected to take photos with them when you won the Emmy. Would you want to be in a Laura Ashley sash-waist dress, or something by Jessica McClintock with a bunch of flowers and a lace bib? Probably not. I don’t know if it was conscious, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the dress was an attempt to bridge the gap a little, shed the “baby of the family” complex — which I get; as the baby of mine, I can relate, like when I used to try to borrow my sisters’ shoes ad make them fit by wedging Kleenex in the toes — and feel like a semi-grown-up actress in a sea of majorly grown-up actresses. I am thrilled it’s not a micro-mini. I don’t believe the neckline is an attempt to sexualize her. I think she just found a dress that made her feel pretty and as if she could stand in that clutch of ladies without feeling like a kid who lost her way en route to the church luncheon. In short, I sympathize with where this girl is. And it makes me a lot more inclined to give her a (written) hug and tell her she looked pretty and not to worry about all the cranks. I mean, when I was 13, those spandex mini-dresses from Express were all the rage, and all my classmates wore them, and nobody seemed to care, and I think those were actually a lot sexier in concept (shudder) than this is. Her lady bits are protected. Nothing is going to fall out of place here. This is not going to turn illegal.

But since I ALSO understand the pearl-clutchers — if I had worn anything booby at that age my parents probably would have wanted to lock me in my room, and if I ever have a girl, I suspect I will feel the same — I want to put it up for a vote, and a discussion. Not to mention the dress’s merits on its own, regardless of the girl in it. Me, I wish Ariel hadn’t worn baby pink, with her skin tone, but I’ve come around on it and actually think it’s a very pretty gown, and one that might actually look twee on anyone much older. So: confusion! Let’s try and settle it.

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Comments (111):

  1. Kit

    Yes, I’m a pearl clutcher. I just think it’s WAY too much showing-of-boob for a 13 year old. I’m gonna be really stuffy actually and say anyone under 18, but seriously, for a 13 year old? WAY. TOO. MUCH.

    Although I loved your defence of it – and it’s true – I too was a 13 year old with seriously hot and seriously boob-a-liscious much older sisters (they were in their 20s at the time) and I remember how tough that was – I wore my sister’s 36D bra to school one time – put my little 34Bs in there, stuffed it and felt like a WOMAN. (I can only tell you that because of the anonynymity of the internets, yo.)

    But still – WAY. TOO . MUCH.

  2. Katie P.

    Beautiful dress, fits her perfectly and looks grownup, and if there was fabric that covered up the major cleavage on this barely menstruating girl, I’d be thrilled with it. It could be all the good things that it is without showing the swaths of boobage.

  3. jbeans

    I don’t know, I feel like the cutesy-ness of the dress counterbalances the boob. The cutout is in no way sexualizing her because of the overall effect of the dress. And if someone older wore this dress, it would be a straight out FUG. Is the design a little mature for her? Probably. She should’ve gone the Hailey Steinfeld route here, IMO. But I don’t think it’s something to get your panties in a twist about.

    Now I need to go take a shower after analyzing 13 year boob situations.

  4. FlossAus

    Seriously? This is seriously considered scandal dressing! Ok I get it, I get the cleavage is maybe a tiny bit exposed but tiny! If she shows up to the next three red carpets with her lady friends on display, then maybe someone should pull her aside but let’s all calm down. Her hem is down, I assume she’s got underwear on, she’s rockin braces and Dina Lohan is no where to be seen. We’ve now successfully scarred poor Ariel …imagine waking up and thinking ‘a fair portion of the nation is thinking about my boobs today’

  5. Neil

    Sorry, Heather, I have pearl vision here as well. If she’s at such a transformational age (and I have a 14 yo daughter, and you’re right, it’s awkward), then that’s what parents are for. Someone should have stepped up to the plate here and been the adult.

    Hailee Steinfeld (or whatever her name is) manages to look terrific and completely age-appropriate, so it CAN be done. Ariel here is headed down to Mileyville.

  6. SarahC

    I kind of wish she’d done it as a halter that closed a little higher up on the chest. I think that would have resolved issues in both the “too matronly” and the pearl clutching camps.

  7. cassandra

    Clutching my pearls here! I understand the position she is in and actually would have less of a problem if she were 16 years old. It’s just that 13 is too young for me for cleavage.

  8. AK

    It’s really not that much cleavage, it’s more that that’s a lower plunge than I’d expect for her age — it’s showing much more sternum than boob.

  9. Sketchy

    The very fact that you need to quote Brittney Spears in an attempt to explain this situation tells me that there are reasons to clutch pearls here.

  10. Annie E

    I don’t think the boobage is a big deal. So many young teenagers wear stuff like this, myself included. When I was 14 I wore a slinky dress with a sheer panel over the midriff to prom with an older friend, and while my parents were not thrilled, they knew to pick their battles. No one died or got pregnant. I just looked kind of awkward, like Ariel does here. I don’t believe that the neckline is an attempt to sexualize her or that she is sexualized by wearing it. When you’re 13, you don’t have the years of experience looking at yourself and other women and determining how much boob is too much. She probably just felt pretty and ready to wear something a little more adult. (Too matronly, though!)

  11. Christy

    I like the dress. I think the color and the lace takes some of the sexy edge off, but I’d be lying if I said I would let my (as yet, theoretical) daughter out in it.

    And I love that picture with the semi-color-coordinated dresses.

  12. TonyG

    Have y’all seen what 13 year old girls in New York City where to school, every day, first three buttons unhooked.? My junior high prom 30 years ago, the girls who could showed off more than this. This is nothing, except beautiful.

  13. Deborah

    She looks divine and appropriate for the gala. Another site made some s%&t snark about not showing boobs with braces. She’s 13, she is at the biggest night of her industry with glamorous co-stars. Now, if she starts her Bad Britney/Dirty Xtina phase after this, I will withdraw my defense.

  14. Amanda

    I think SarahC is right. It could have been done much better as a halter with a narrower slit. That is WAY too much boob for a 13-year-old. I am very sympathetic to her, for pretty much the same reasons you are, but if my daughter were in that position there is no way I’d allow that much cleavage. There are other ways to look grown-up without resorting to the boobs. As another commenter mentioned, Hailee Steinfeld is doing a bang-up job of it, so we know it is possible.

  15. megs283

    I understand feeling inadequate next to Julie Bowen and Sofia Vegara… but she is 13. She isn’t SUPPOSED to look sexy.

    Not hating on the girl – I’m so glad I’m not 13 anymore! – but where were her parents? This is where their judgment should have come in, and put her in a cute Hailee Steinfeld-like dress that was demure, classy, and fun.

  16. babylovesfashion

    it looks great on her.cute!
    I like it!


  17. Adriana

    This would have been my dream senior prom dress – five years ahead of Ariel. I don’t think anyone younger than fifteen can pull this one off. I love the fabric and the color, but there must have been another flattering neckline that didn’t make her look babyish. Maybe just closing up the cleavage portion to a wee keyhole would have warded off the naysayers.

  18. Cindy

    As a mom I would have a hard time letting one of my daughters wear this, BUT given the event I would be okay if this was what SHE had picked out and what she felt comfortable and confident wearing.

  19. Chuckell

    I get the impression she’s a career-minded young lady. She may do a great job playing a dweeby younger sister, but she doesn’t want to let any casting agents get in the habit of thinking of her that way. She takes off the glasses every chance she gets.

  20. H

    The dress is sweet and she looks lovely. It might be too mature for a Grade 8 graduation ceremony but she’s at the Emmys. In a very adult setting it loos young, fresh and even, yes, demure, without making her look like a little kid. (Sure, she is still a kid, but that doesn’t mean she is going to show up at the Emmys in a flowery romper and platform flipflops or something).

    I think the issue is she *has* breasts. If anyone with a flat(er) chest wore that dress I don’t think it would be the focus of so many comments. But, as many women with an ample chest knows– what looks breezy and innocent on a smaller-chested woman can look inappropriate on someone with big breasts. I know it’s a tricky aspect of dressing to have to work with… but hey– she’s young. She has time. And she looks great. Let’s leave it that.

  21. Kaixin

    Never commented here before, but yes, I’m a pearl clutcher too. The still photography here doesn’t show what the live version did on TV — a good bit too much boobie curve shown, lol. Here it just looks a little too low-cut, but when she turned to the side, my eyes popped out and I found out who she was and googled, “how old is Ariel Winter?” hoping the answer was like 17 or 18 (I never watch the show and have never seen her). No such luck.

  22. Daryl

    Dress is lovely on her ..

    I would have chosen different shoes if I was Sarah, those are so heavy looking …

  23. Rowynn

    I didn’t watch the awards show, so this is the first time I’m seeing Ariel’s dress. If I had seen it that night, I dunno… I might have thought it was a little too revealing for someone her age. Actually, I probably would have been too lazy to Google her, as Kaixin did, and I would have assumed she was much older in real life than her character on Modern Family is, but I think I would have assumed that based on the fact that she HAS boobs, not how much of them was showing. Even knowing now that she IS only 13, I’m still having trouble getting too upset about it. No nip-slip seems imminent, and she is just as covered up as she would be in a swim suit, right? I assume no one wants her to wear a turtleneck swimsuit. Except for the cleavage, she looks modestly and appropriately dressed for the kind of evening this is, and let’s remember, this is Hollywood. I don’t think they do things out there exactly the same way we do out here in small-town Midwest America.
    She’s probably more mature and sophisticated than the middle school girls I know, but how could she not be?

  24. maria

    Another pearl-clutcher here! She DOES look pretty, but she is 13 and that is way too much cleave for such a young girl. She could totally be appropriately pre-teen beautiful without all the boobage.

  25. AP

    For being pretty young myself, I’m usually a pearl-clutcher when young girls show a lot of cleavage. But Ariel here doesn’t bother me the same way. I think it’s because she doesn’t seem to be trying to be SEXAAAY. A lot of other younger girls who show a lot of cleavage seem to be all, “Look at me! Look at my boobs! My cleavage! I’m a woman!” And then I usually say, “Ew, nobody wants to look at a kid’s boobs, no matter how big they may be, PUT THEM AWAY.”

    She just seems to be wanting to look pretty, and I think the dress fits her well, and how could you resist that smile? I feel bad for her that people are analyzing her cleavage and judging her for it. That’s definitely something a 13 year old doesn’t need.

  26. juliet

    WAY too much boob for 13! She’s in *elementary* school. Not even high school. The cleavagey dress with the little-girl braces gives me the creeps.

    I totally understand Ariel wanting to wear this, since 13-year-old girls are just starting to liike more like women, but her parents deserve a slap for letting her wear it.

  27. Janice Marie

    While I want to be on her side here because I love Ariel Winter to DEATH, I have a 10 year old niece and there is NO WAY IN HELL I WOULD LET HER OUT OF THE HOUSE IN SOMETHING LIKE THAT UNTIL SHE TURNS 30. Carry on, all.

  28. Miranda

    Too believe this dress would have been better as a halter with higher and more narrow slit. That being said, I think this dress was perfect was her age, profession, and current position in the world – co-starring with older, sexy women. The fact that this is the first time we have seen her look this way – an awards show and not 3am on Hollywood Blvd – tells me that this is simply a fashion moment and not a cry for help.

    Back off and let the poor girl pubesce in peace.

  29. Emily

    No pearl clutching here. As the stepmom to a 15 year old girl, what Ariel is wearing here has got NOTHING on the tramptastic stuff girls wear to school every single day. (And this is the Midwest I’m living in!) It’s a little more boob than I would prefer on a girl so young, but they’re not hanging out, and the skirt is long, so it’s not an all over too sexy look. She’s trying hard, she looks nice, ’nuff said.

  30. Kathryn

    I think the only reason this caused a stir is because it looks like she has a relatively large chest for a 13-year old. If she had A-cups, it would have been much less revealing. I think she looks great!

  31. Fuh Ugh

    I think her mother, agent and stylist should each be slapped, but you can’t blame Ariel at all. I’m sure she wants desperately to look grown up – I did at that age. If this dress had a solid front (no plunging V) with that same pretty lace around the neckline, it would have been perfect for her age and the occasion. Calling Hailee Steinfeld for an awards show age-appropriate dressing consultation!

  32. dee

    Too much boob – not her fault, it’s her parent’s fault. I have a thirteen year old who is 5′ 9″, has long curly blond hair and lots of boob. It’s her mission in life to push against the suitable clothing boundaries – it’s my duty to set the boundaries. Agreeing on something appropriate can be a long, drawn out pain in the ass but there is always a compromise that satisfies both of us.

  33. TG

    H and Kathryn, I completely agree that the only “problem” is that her body doesn’t look like a typical 13 year old’s. She’s showing cleavage because she has some and that’s the way her body is shaped, not because she’s desperately trying to be sexy. Yes, she could have chosen a dress that covered more, but nothing else about her stance is giving off the impression she’s trying to be age-inappropriate, so overall I think this dressing comes off as artful. I think people often forget that women with large cleavage aren’t always showing off their cleavage with a “come and get it” message — sometimes the cleavage shows because it’s there, and the women don’t want to have to feel ashamed about their natural body.

  34. Dina

    I agree with H and Kathryn. It’s not that the dress is too revealing it’s that Ariel has a more “womanly” body than people expect from 13 year olds. Watching her on stage when they won the award I saw a child. She in no way was sexualizing the dress, that’s on everyone else. Sofia Vergara hugged her like the little girl she probably sees Ariel as.

    She probably just thought she looked pretty, and having to play Alex, the “unpretty” sister to Sarah Hyland, it probably made her feel good. She’s an actress and quite good in her role but her role is nerdy and lonely and told she’s not “pretty.” No matter how smart and confident a child may be, that’s still going to hurt a little. So she just wanted to show that she’s not the plain Jane nerd she plays.

    And now she’s basically being called the next Lindsay Lohan because of it. That’s not fair to the Ariel because other than wearing a somewhat and completely arguably “inappropriate” dress, she’s never given any indication that she’s anything but the lovely teenager she seems to be.

  35. Squirrel!

    I’m sorry, but I do have to agree with what was said at theinsider.com: “Memo to all 13-year-old girls: it’s not OK if we can see your braces and your cleavage in a red carpet gown.”

  36. KimB

    The neckline on the dress is low, but I don’t think it’s vulgar. The color and fabric are very pretty, and I can understand that she wanted to wear a gown like the other ladies in the cast.

  37. Jasmine

    I love the dress, first of all, but I also totally agree that on anyone older it might actually cross the line into twee territory.
    I also think that the braces somehow manage to diminish the sexuality of the boobage, and also are freaking adorable on her– I love when people with braces smile with their teeth. Plus, if I had boobs like that when I was 13 my parents would have had quite a problem on their hands… she’s ladylike while still being a kid.

  38. Cortney

    Oh Good Maude. Did someone say she was heading down to Mileyville because of THIS dress? Come on now folks. Her ladybits are all covered up. Yes, there is a teensey bit of decolatage showing. Not underboob. Not sideboob. No dangers of a nip-slip. I can see the point of wanting her to be a bit more covered up, but one relatively demure and only quasi-reveling gown (worn to an awards show) doth not a Miley (or LiLo) make.

  39. Billie

    Now we know why there are Miley’s and Britney’s and Lindsey’s out there … when they were 13 and woke up realizing half the world was talking about their boobs, that must’ve instilled a major sense of too much self awareness and insecurity (they were also dressed MUCH more scantily at this age).

    She is wearing a delightful dress that may show too much chest, however I would assume analzying her down to a T today is doing much more damage than the actual dress.

  40. STK

    I am not appalled at that dress on a 13 year old. At first glance, it seemed very age appropriate, almost cutesy. I don’t think the boobs are screaming “look at me”. On another note, I think that someone should tell women with leg slit dresses that it is awkward and bizarrely obvious to pull the slit open for pictures. Also, I love Sofia Varga and especially the color of her dress. That’s all.

  41. Amber

    The other night, when the entire case of Modern Family was on stage, my husband walked by and said “Who’s the chick in front with her boobs out?” Just then, they panned in a bit and he realized that Ariel is a child and was appropriately mortified (at himself).
    On live TV, it seems to me that there was more skin showing than in this picture, or others I have seen online. I think it’s too much skin for a 13 year old to be showing, particularly because she is developed. As hard as it is to be 13 (and I remember, much as I try to block it out), I think she could have gone for a look that was less booby, and still a little more mature.
    I just think she has how many years ahead of her to have people focusing on her chest. She should be able to enjoy this time without having to worry about that. But, like others have said, I don’t blame her in the least. Her parents, agent, stylist, etc etc etc should have thought it through a bit.

  42. KimB

    Part of me wishes that Jayma Mays had worn this dress instead of the tulle concoction that she ultimately chose. The style sort of suits her, and the color would have been lovely with her red hair.

  43. maryse

    i think she looks adorable, and it’s the emmy’s. she’s not wearing this to school. i’m fine with it. she’s a lovely girl.

  44. jean

    I think the Fug Girls make a lovely argument in her favor and given her hair and make-up are appropriate, I would go along with them, but … I imagine her at this industry party, just 13, and having grown people just staring at her and it kind of squicks me out. It’s one thing when a 13 year old girl who needs a better bra wears an old tank-top she wore before the breasts grew in …that’s just being unaware. It’s another when her parents and stylist sanctioned this look. She looks very elegant, so there’s good taste there, just poor judgement from her elders. And I LOVE that photo with all of them. Sofia looks like everyone’s favorite awesome tia who would totally lend out her prettiest high heels and do your make-up before your first middle school dance.

  45. Noire

    I come from a really conservative southern family (which is now hilarious as I am a bleeding heart liberal), and one of the few remaining ways that my conservatism surfaces is in terms of clothing. I think she looks BEAUTIFUL, and overall I think the dress is really pretty. I also think it would be much, much more appropriate, especially at her age, if this was just a pretty pink, lacy halter dress without the cleavage cutout area. There is no way that I would ever be allowed to wear anything like this when I was 13. There is no way that I would let my 13 year old (if I had one) wear something that draws that much attention to the chest area of a barely teenage girl. Just fill that part in, and I think this is a winner. PS: Modern Family is my FAVORITE show. To all the Fug Fans, if you have not watched it yet, then go do it. Its really fantastic!

  46. Elizabeth

    Ladies, Dido wrote “Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman.” Britney just sang it. And Ariel Winter looks lovely.

  47. Samara

    Man, when I was 13, I was 4 foot 6 and weighed 85 pounds. Work it, Ariel Winter! “I’m a Flirt” T-shirts on eight-year-olds freak me out. This does not freak me out. She looks pretty.

  48. Emma

    I think we all need to take a step back and put this in perspective: Didn’t everyone kind of have the same pearl-clutching freak out over how Miley Cyrus dressed a few years back? The fact that we can even put Ariel Winter’s lovely dress in the same category as a girl famous for NOT WEARING PANTS at 16 says more than enough about this argument. Winter looks great – the color makes it young (and “princessy”) enough for a 13 yr old.

  49. Britt

    AnnieE says it all…”no one died or got pregnant”. Relax, people.

  50. Kat

    Let’s get one thing straight… she is not turning into Miley Cyrus. Anyone who says that needs to get their eyes checked! She’s 13, and she’s showing a tiny bit of 13 year old boob. If her chest was bigger, it probably would’ve been weirder, but it’s not. People are looking at that cut out and automatically saying “SLUTTY!” But the thing is, with smaller boobs, you can get away with more! I’m 24, have A cups (and little A’s at that), and I can wear shirts that would look postively whore-like on my sister who has C’s.

  51. Kate

    There’s a little more peek-a-boob than I’d like on a 13 year old, but to be fair, I don’t think there are a lot of designers catering to the early-teen-at-award-ceremony set. I think the dress is otherwise very girlish and sweet. If she were my kid I’d probably grimace a little, but after shopping for days trying to find something more appropriate, I’d let this go. It’s clear this is simply a design issue and Ariel is not buying a one-way ticket to Momsenville.

  52. Stefanie

    I love it. She looks cute and had someone not got all worked up about it I would not have thought twice about the neckline. People need to chill the freak out.

  53. melanie

    I honestly can’t figure out what any of you people are freaking out about. Maybe I’ve just become jaded by what I’ve seen preteen girls wearing out and about on a normal day. This looks cute and pretty and not at all trying to be sexy or risque. Yes, there is some very real sexualization of under-aged girls that goes on in our culture that needs to stop, but this is not an example of it. Let’s pick our battles wisely instead of freaking out about every little bit of skin.

  54. Heather

    I really do understand both sides — like, I feel for her in the aftermath, but if my parents had flipped their lids at me for wearing this when I was 13, I would have (eventually) understood it. It’s a tough one.

  55. kjb

    Compared to what I’ve seen 13 year olds in at parties, this is nothing. She looks cute, and there’s no danger of her skirt riding up her ass, like pretty much every girl I’ve seen at a bar/bat mitzvah or sweet sixteen in the catering hall I worked at in the past 2 years. Leave the poor kid alone, I say.

  56. Madeline

    If this starts being a trend of possibly too much boobage, then yes it is concerning, but if it’s just on big nights, whatevs. We all go a little more scandy on big nights…

  57. Emily

    Yeah, I have to say as someone who was a full C cup by age 13, I’m with Ariel on this one – it’s tough to find formal dresses that look age appropriate, and often times what we do think of as “age appropriate” for a 13 year old would look frumpy on someone whose chest is beginning to develop (or has already fully developed, in my case). If she found a dress that makes her feel pretty, I say pick your battles (which obviously her parents did).

  58. KimB

    I wasn’t a fan of Insider.com’s “Memo to all 13-year-old girls”. Making snide remarks about a teenager’s braces and her chest crosses the line from snark into just plain mean.

  59. Kris

    At 13, I had about the same amount of boobage… and I think this looks absolutely lovely. As has been stated, it’s not a “sexy” dress. It’s pretty, and wow, did being 13 suck, so when you feel pretty, it’s fleeting and thrilling…and then you’re 13 again.
    Virtual (((HUGS))) to Ariel for any bad feelings she has about all the criticism online!!!!

  60. Anne B


    1) This may be less about a dress on a 13-year-old girl than a dress on a 13-year-old actress. Many parents in Hollywood don’t exhibit the kinds of careful, loving considerations I’m reading on this thread.
    2) Considering #1, Ariel and her stylist (not Ariel and a parent) probably chose this dress.
    3) People who want to advertise you are going to dress you differently than would people who love you (e.g., parents who are not also your managers).
    4) I too would have said to my own kid (and have, not even six months ago), “Honey, don’t you want to, you know, be your age? You’ll have decades to dress like that.” But my kid doesn’t have a stylist. Or a show. Or a paycheck bigger than mine.

    I think we might just be looking at not the product of Battle This-Is-Who-I-Am, but instead, Battle Being-A-Child-Actor-Sucks.

    Entirely different war. :(

  61. LibraryChick

    My adolescence was at the height of the grunge era, where all of us (girls and boys) wore shapeless flannel shirts, thermal undershirts, jeans or corduroys, and Doc Martens or Birkenstocks. Perhaps this is why the pearl clutching comes naturally to me even though I know the look is hardly inappropriate for the occasion. At 13 Miss Winter is already larger busted than I will probably ever be while maintaining a healthy non-pregnant weight, so I can’t imagine handling the problems posed by that pace or onset of development. In my neck of the woods (admittedly a college town in the midwest), the early developers always went out of their way to hide wares because other girls would tease them mercilessly (back bra-strap snapping one of the most frequest harassment examples I witnessed). I guess Hollywood just has very different standards from what I’m used to seeing, but I really wish she had just done a regular halter top. Miss Winter could have pulled off a ladylike look without looking matronly.

  62. Meg

    looks fine to me. i wore shirts approaching that level of revealing when i was 13, and so did my peers, and nobody flipped out.

  63. melanie

    Also, as a person who was a busty pre-teen, one thing that made me feel even more awkward and self-conscious about my changing body and the fact that it was different than most of my peers’ bodies, was people acting like my breasts were something to freak out about and hide, preferably under big baggy sweatshirts.

  64. Ms. Chanandler Bong

    Sofia Vergara is showing less boob. I think it was cut too low, boobs are hard to wrangle but when she was on stage I couldn’t look away, they were just so in your face. Plus, I think we’re confusing 13 with 16. It’s hard for AVERAGE people with big boobs to find formal dresses, not famous child actors.

    Am I the only one that loved how Sofia, Ariel and Sarah color coordinated? Even if it wasn’t planned, they looks so pretty together.

  65. Megan

    Juliet – 13 years old is 8th grade, not elementary school. Actually, my cousin started high school at 13 because she had a weird birthday.

    I think she looks great. Like others have said, she doesn’t look like she’s trying to be sexay and I HIGHLY doubt she’s going to be the next LiLo or Miley because of this dress. She seems like she’s got her head on straight and one dress doesn’t change that.

  66. liaso

    Well, I’m in the camp that thinks people are over-reacting. I had 36Cs at 12, and as many people here have said: it’s hard to dress breasts like that at that age. I often wore shirts that showed cleavage, and I felt pretty and not scandalous. Yes, the shirts I wore drew attention, but for the most part, from boys my age. My parents instilled strong morals in me, so the clothing was just that: clothing. Not a slippery slope into premature teenage sex, etc. etc. This dress is not the path to Lohan land. The rest of the dress is so demure, I don’t think there is anything wrong with the top. If it had been a micro-mini in addition, then I’d be more concerned.

    Realistically, teenagers wear much more revealing clothing than this. I try to save my pearl clutching for that, rather than this dress.

  67. Catherine

    I feel it’s less the fact that the dress shows cleavage as the fact that she has, at 13, cleavage to show. Imagine, say, Emma Watson in this dress when SHE was 13. Emma Watson is lovely, but she has a very small bust, and in this dress nobody would have batted an eye, because there would have been nothing to see. Folks are essentially angry at the girl for HAVING breasts, which, come on. She’s 13 years old. Leave her breasts alone.

    They’re not hiked up, they’re not in any kind of bra that’s designed to show them off or poke up them further out of the top. In fact, they are very decidedly IN her top, not showing off in any way. I swear the pearl-clutchers are just scandalized that a 13-year-old is in possession of breasts in the first place.

    Good morning, y’all. It’s called puberty. And you wouldn’t have liked anyone yelling at you for having breasts when you were just getting used to the concept yourself. In fact, I can speak to this problem. The exact same tank top on a flat-chested girl looks casual and completely non-sexual; slap that tank top on a girl with a C-cup and suddenly everyone’s up in arms about how sexy it is.

    That’s not to say you shouldn’t be aware of the relative sexiness of your assets, but again, she didn’t attempt to make them more than they are. She just wore a completely age-appropriate dress that fit her properly, and her body is apparently inherently offensive to the pearl-clutchers, in that it shows she has hit puberty pretty hard from a young age and therefore has the proportions we, as a culture, associate with a grown woman.

    She can’t help that, and frankly, short of dressing her in an outfit that would have made her look completely dowdy, any dress at all was going to show up the fact that yes, the breasts have arrived somewhat early. Leave the poor kid alone.

  68. Alisa

    It’s better when she’s standing still for a picture but when she was on stage for Modern Family’s win there was too much movement. It was icky.

  69. candy

    I can’t believe this is even an issue. When I was that age I was way too overly developed and short of a turtleneck there was no way to conceal my chest. I wish at 13 I could have worn something that made me look pretty and elegant. She looked great.

  70. A.J.

    My daughter’s getting close to that age, and if she takes after her mother (as she has so far) she’s going to develop crazy early. So, thinking about if I’d want my baby showing off the clevage and thinking about the completely cray-cray things I wanted to wear at that age that my mother so very wisely wouldn’t allow (Thank You Mom!!!!) and some of the god-awful things I see young teens wearing now…I can’t get outraged about this. For one thing, the kid is at the Emmys. It’s a red carpet kind of dress. To wear that to the 6th-7th grade dance at the school gymnasium, no. But the Emmys, yes. And something about the baby pink, all the lace and the length takes away anything “sexy” about the neckline for me.

  71. yeahandalso

    I think it is a bit too much boob for a 13-year-old, but it doesn’t seem like it is too sexy for a 13-year-old because it is also extremely matronly…there is nothing sexy about this dress at all, but she is a bit overexposed it is an odd line to tread.

    I would have preferred her in anything Hailee Steinfeld has ever worn

  72. Rachel

    I have a little bit of a double standard here. If it were my daughter, absolutely not. But I’m not exactly clutching my pearls. I do think that it’s too mature for her age, and think that could have been solved by narrowing that plunge so that just a sliver of skin was showing.

    That being said, I voted, “aw, relax, y’all,” because she doesn’t look or seem trampy in the least. I’m not concerned for her the way I’ve been for literally DOZENS of young actresses before her. She seems like she’s going to be just fine, so I am as well.

  73. Faye

    I’m going to pull out my Mikimotos to clutch and say, quite firmly, NO to the side boob. She is 13 years old. 13 *is* a girl, at least in my book. Granted I was raised in a very shelted environment, but . . . no, still not okay with the sideboob. If the top of the dress had only been closed, I think it would have been adorable.

  74. Julia

    Hell, if she’s 13 like I was 13, or my daughter was 13, that cleavage may have developed in the limousine on the way to the venue.

  75. Bexmarie

    Clutching pearls because of the age. I grew up dealing with this very issue (C cups at 13) and my goodness did my parents have their work cut out for them! I wore a dress like this when I was 16 and had to go behind my parents back to do it. When they found out they did NOT like it. I totally get that the dress would have looked totally appropriate on a flat chested girl, but the problem is, she’s not flat chested. 13 year old shouldn’t be showing cleavage IMO. I mean, on screen she out-cleavaged Sofia Vergara. It was distracting and uncomfortable because of her age.

    If she was 18 it would be no problem…even at 16 I would let it slide because the rest of the dress is so demure. But 13? Pearls clutched.

  76. vandalfan

    Has she no parents?

  77. Nicole

    I may be pearl clutching, but I find this defense of her dress kind of ludicrous.

    The argument “Everyone else is doing it, so why shouldn’t she” may be appropriate for 13-year-old Ariel, but sounds a little silly coming from you guys.

    Not to mention the the fact that everyone else WASN’T. Vergara was completely covered. Hyland showed some shin. There’s no defense of Bowen, but I also think its likely that Winter didn’t have any idea what the other ladies were wearing.

    It concerns me that she should need to sexify herself to make herself feel better about being with her cast or feel better about herself.

    I’ll join the Hailee Steinfeld cavalcade – you guys have often applauded her for not looking little girl, yet in this defense of Winter, you make it seem like it’s impossible for a young girl to look good on the red carpet. I’d add Dakota Fanning to the list of young women who are capable of looking good on the red carpet without resorting to sex.

    I agree that this particular picture isn’t too bad, but when Ariel was moving, it got incredibly inappropriate. The entire time she was on stage after Modern Family won for best show, she was all I could look at. It felt a bit like looking at a train wreck – I could not look away.

  78. strah

    I think that the context is important to consider. Maybe this wouldn’t be appropriate for most 13 year old girls to wear to the school dance, but this young lady has a career and is at an awards ceremony. I think she looks lovely.

  79. Annie E

    For all we know, Ariel wanted to wear something even MORE revealing, and this dress was the result of a compromise with her parents.

  80. Betsy

    I think you wrote a wonderful defense of it that did have me thinking about all sides, but I do think it was a bit too much (boob wise) just for her age. I’m surprised a stylist didn’t see that. I wouldn’t really expect Ariel herself to see it, but I would think a stylist would. I didn’t see her on the red carpet, but when she was on stage with the group after they won, her cleavage was out there! I really did gasp because of how young she is. I don’t love the dress in general although it’s fine overall. I just wish it didn’t have that slit. She seems like a very nice young girl, she’s great on the show, and I think we can all move on from it. She looked very pretty overall!

  81. phoebe

    I don’t even think it’s sexy, but it really is too much boob! Who in the world thought this was a good idea??? It also looks pretty dated.

  82. Kris

    The dress is fine; Ariel can’t help it if her chest has gone age-inappropriate without her consent. Count me among the fuggers who had to deal with Major Boobs at a young age. I was a C cup by age 11, and a D by age 14. Getting dressed wasn’t fun. Age appropriate clothes often ended up drawing even more attention to the twins, and even looked a bit kiddie-porn wrong on occasion. Essentially, I had the same problems that Christina Hendricks has with dressing around the girls, with the added headache of still being a kid. Yeah, no chance. The solution is just to give up and dress like an adult with class, which is pretty much what Ariel did here.

  83. Janie

    I think Annie B. is right. I think it is hard to judge actress vs. non-actress. To be honest, I wouldn’t wear a dress showing that much cleavage now, at 36 years old. In high school, my friends had to sew straps on their strapless dresses, and I have friends who had to wear little jackets over wedding dresses (that were not even strapless) in order to be seen as appropriately dressed in church. In that sense, in my world, this is scandalous on a 13-year-old.

    In her world, this is not. No lady parts are going to be exposed even if she breaks out in a very spirited rendition of the twist. You see WAY more exposed on a lot of starlets. So, I just feel like, thank God she’s not wearing only panties, a corset, and clear plastic stripper shoes in which tips can be placed. (You know who you are, Little J.)

  84. Grace

    The dress is nice, but too inappropriate for a 13 year old. I wouldn’t even let a 17-year old wear it. You have the draw the line somewhere when it comes to overt sexiness (e.g. cleavage, thigh high slits, etc) and minors. There will be plenty of time to wear this stuff as an adult. Throw tomatoes at me if you wish, but you can’t send mixed messages to all the pervy guys out there as a young woman. “Hey, I’m puttin’ my melons on display, but a pox on you even dare to glance at them!” And if the world of custom made dresses and Hollywood, you can easily find more modest dresses if you so desire. Ask Hailee Steinfeld.

  85. Lane

    I’m a natural DD (this is not bragging, I would much rather prefer a solid B or C) and when i was her age, I was developing breasticles at an alarming rate as well. It’s tough when you still have braces and acne and big ol’ hoots. I’m proud of A-Win for rocking this dress, it’s such an awkward age and to show that kind of confidence and grace, she’s awesome!

  86. Sarah

    I don’t think it looks bad, I think it looks elegant and princessy. I would have loved to wear this when I was 13 — an age when I was obsessed with classic Hollywood starlets like Grace Kelly and wanted to be glamorous like them.

  87. Sarah

    @Grace I don’t see a mixed message. It’s not polite to stare regardless of whether someone’s showing a few inches of cleavage, a disfiguring scar, or a bright green mohawk. And when the person being stared at is a young girl, it’s not just rude, it’s downright creepy. If girls’ parents ought to teach them to dress appropriately (however we define that), boys’ parents ought to teach them to keep their eyes *up here* regardless of what a young lady is wearing.

  88. Jen

    I think it looks fine, and the color definitely makes it play younger, rather than too-old-for-her. The other factor, which she will realize as she gets on in life, is that a neckline which probably looked absolutely harmless and fine when she was standing still at home, will often migrate — those darn boobs on the move. Better this than some smooshed down dress, really…

  89. lettuce cup

    I’m just shocked that 13 year olds have boobs like that. Being a late bloomer, I grew three inches out of highschool. I’m now old enough to be her mama and am still waiting for boobs. At any rate, I think she’s adorable but I’d kinda like to stuff a napkin down the front of that collar.

  90. Sajorina

    I don’t see it being inappropriate on a 13 y/o because all I see is the middle of her chest and her breasts are completely covered! I think it’s cute and she looks young, but more mature while wearing it, which I’m sure it’s what she was going for!

    By the way, I was a 34C by the time I was 11 years old and my mom had to buy me Juniors’ clothes because Children’s clothes wouldn’t fit me! And, my parents let me show a little boob at 15! I was a well-behaved teenager and looked older than I was, so I think she’ll be fine as well!

  91. Sandra

    I think the dress looks better in the group photo; it contrasts beautifully with the stronger shades the other ladies are wearing. And she’s 13, for heaven’s sake! Who didn’t want to wear a grown-up princess outfit at that age? It might be a little too revealing, but she doesn’t look slutty. I really like it on her.

  92. amy

    I think she should have had a full-pieced top. The exact same cut/neck without the cutout space between the boobs. I have a 12/almost 13 yr old daughter with a bigger chest than ME and I would be APPALLED if she wore something like that, even though she could technically pull it off.

  93. Gabby

    Who knew that people who read and enjoy a blog that once had to censor Mileys crotch with a circle would be getting all up in arms about the SMALLEST amount of boob on display??!!
    Helloooo??!! She looks amazing!
    You are all terrorising a girl that looked really classy. Perhaps you should all go chase down Miley or Taylor Momson or something. Leave Ariel alone. Get back to me when she starts breakin’ out the boob tubes.

  94. Kyasarin

    I’m pretty sure she could’ve found something better to wear than that dress, and way more age-appropriate, too. Witness Hailee Steinfeld. This just looks all wrong on her. She’s a beautiful girl, and she shouldn’t feel like she has to be Sofia Vergara. Sofia wasn’t even Sofia at thirteen.

  95. Kendra

    I completely agree with Catharine’s comment – well said! The poor thing, she’ll probably be a nervous wreck next time she has to dress up after all this.

  96. Jennipher Lewis

    Clutching my pearls!
    It matters not whether she is at the Emmy’s or the prom, she is still a young girl. All the attention on her boobs is reducing her to a sexual creature. She looks great, but her boobs are the focus, yes it’s because they are ample, but it doesn’t excuse the choice of dress. A slit down the chest is going to make everyone look, is that what we as a culture want from our children?
    If the slit had been sewn just a couple of inches it would have protected her.

  97. Mai

    I really don’t see anything wrong with this and totally get why she would pick this dress. It’s very pretty and yeah, on an size A 13 year old it wouldn’t have drawn comment. It’s hard to dress the girls and people who don’t deal with that (I’m in the ‘C by 13′ category and my mom is a ‘AA for life’ type, oh the fights we had) don’t get that and designers suck at making clothes that actually fit boobs and waist. I’ll bet she had to work hard to find this dress, Hollywood is full of clothes for the tiny-breasted. It’s probably harder to find clothes that fit the girls the higher end you get. She looks fantastic if a bit mature (and come on, everyone at 13 wants to look 16, at 16 you want to look 20, and at 20 you want to look 25, then you get your few years of wanted to look your age before it reverses) and she has Sophia to teach her all about dressing her cute little self, girl will be just fine.

    Also, I wonder how many of Hailee’s outfits would look too tight/revealing on Ariel. Clothing that I got yelled at for wearing because it showed too much cleavage? My A cup little sister wore without comment.

  98. Katharine

    Well said, Catherine. Hopefully, Ariel will be shielded from some of the harsher online comments out there.

  99. megan

    I really dont see what all the fuss is about – Maybe americans are more conservative? I didnt even notice her boobs! Why is everyone looking at her boobs!!
    I cant belive how many comments this received just because she is 13 – when I was 13 I dressed way more reaviling then I do now (im 27) because people dont look at you that way you can get away with it. People make everything sexual instead of thinking what a pretty girl who has acheaved so much how proud her parents must be – instead of critizing them because you can se a liitle bit of her boob!!!! you should see what young girls in my country wear to the beach – this girl looks like an angel!

  100. Veronica

    I think the dress itself is quite pretty, though I admit I’d probably have to ruminate a little before deciding whether I’d want my thirteen year old wearing it or not. I don’t think the dress itself is excessively sexy – the pattern is certainly quite cutesy. I do have concerns about the increasing amounts of hypersexualization we’re seeing aimed at younger women, but this isn’t something that immediately sets me off.

  101. LemonFresh

    I think this is a beautiful dress and it looks gorgeous on her. That said, the thing that draws my eye over and over again (even if I had no idea who she was) is the boobs. The dress REALLY puts them front and centre. For someone else, I think that would be fine – but a beautiful dress that REALLY showcases the boobs on a 13-year-old? Not something I’m okay with.

  102. sam

    you can’t say Ariel should dress like Hailee Steinfield or the Fannings – i like what they wear, but they have totally different figures. that’s like me loving Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman’s dresses, but understanding NONE of their stuff would EVER look good on me, seeing as I’m 5’4″ and have 12E boobs.
    the floral lace, the pink and the simple hairstyle totally suit Ariel’s age, and as for the bodice – you can’t see anything. it’s fine. it’s the Emmy’s; she wanted to go all-out formal.
    and agreed – the 3 actresses DO look lovely together, with their complementing colour gowns:)

  103. Amy

    I have a 13 year old daughter, and while I get that Ariel is living a totally different life from my soccer-playing, Catholic school 8th grader, I still think the dress is too old for her. The cleavage doesn’t work on a 13 year old, and the dress itself looks like it should be on a 35 year old.
    (Oh, and I was watching bits of the Emmys in the attending’s office in the ICU, along with two pediatric residents – who may not know fashion but do know some adolescent development – and we all gave it a thumbs down.)

  104. Elizabeth

    The virgin/whore dichotomy crops up in a lot of these comments (she should dress more like Hailee; at least she’s not Miley; etc.). Y’all ever notice how said dichotomy just makes life miserable for everybody? It do. Navigating cultural mores regarding comportment, sexuality, and femininity is a difficult, often lifelong process, and Ms. Winter is at her own point in that process. I think she probably needs some room to figure such things out without being body-shamed for daring to be a teenager who wanted to look pretty at a fancy party.

  105. Jen S 2.0

    It IS a wee too much boob, but you absolutely have a point that when you stand her next to her co-stars, it’s not that bad.

    Remember that 13 is that awful age where your body and your hormones start to spiral out of control, and you make the mistake of wearing those socks with the lace edges with flats and a dress that last time, and you have that one classmate who’s already grown boobs out to HERE, and you desperately wish you were her, except that you kind of don’t because nothing appropriate fits her. I say that to say, I didn’t know what to wear at 13 either, and she’s done a more-than-decent job here.

    I mean, anyone else could stand stark naked next to Sofia Vergara in a too-big turtleneck and baggy jeans, and SV would still win the sexy contest going away. This is hardly scandalous, in context. If they had just closed up the boob a teeny bit, it’d have been a home run.

  106. Sandra

    @Grace Throw tomatoes at me if you wish, but you can’t send mixed messages to all the pervy guys out there as a young woman. “Hey, I’m puttin’ my melons on display, but a pox on you even dare to glance at them!”

    Tomatoes? How about the whole damn vegetable stand? ‘Cause it sounds to me a lot like you’re saying “It was her own fault. She was asking for it, dressed like that!” And that is just W.R.O.N.G. I’m all in favor of dressing in an age-appropriate manner, but suggesting that pervy men (or violent men) are entitled to force their attentions on women of any age, in any circumstance, is mind-boggling. They are responsible for their own behavior.

    So maybe this shows off a little more of her figure than people are comfortable with; she hardly deserves the condemnation she’s received. We’ve all gotten an outfit wrong on occasion. This isn’t the end of civilization as we know it, nor should she be branded a scarlet woman. I really think she just wanted to wear a big-girl dress to the party.

  107. Hima

    Thanks Sandra for your entire post. That says everything I wanted to say but much, much better than I was able to. I think the dress is a bit age-inappropriate, and I agree with SarahC that it could have benefitted from a smaller or higher cut slit in the middle. But the judging makes me more uncomfortable than the cleavage.

  108. Christopher D

    Grace-(wrong – vegetable stand coming at ya)), Sandra (right)…

    and considering what 4-10 year old beauty contestants wear this is nothing. And frankly I wouldn’t even ding her parents. She’s 13, not 10 or 11, and somehow, IN CONTEXT, that “-teen” makes it ok.

    I think Heather nailed this one.

    And frankly she looks cute, and happy, and pretty and not at all “Pretty Baby”, it was a grown up event, and if we countenamce 13 year olds working on television (another issue entirely), then on this special big night with her “Modern Family” she looks great, and to me like a dressed up 13 year old!

  109. Rachel

    I don’t get it. If she were walking around on the beach in a bikini, no one would care. So why is one little triangle of skin, barely showing cleavage, such a huge deal?

  110. Tafadhali

    I’m pretty sure the larger cup size is a fairly new development for her (as in: post-last season of the show), and while in some girls that prompts the “OH MY GOD WHAT HAPPENED COVER UP” impulse, sometimes girls don’t really understand how to dress their new body in an age-appropriate way, because they’re not used to it yet and may not realize how revealing things look on them. Hell, I went from an A to an ample B a couple years ago because of a bit of weight gain, and absolutely didn’t realize how much more revealing my favored deep V-necks were until I looked at some pictures (of course, I’m ten years older than her, so it’s not so big a deal). So: even if I think this is somewhat age inappropriate, I mostly feel for her and all the scrutiny her body is getting. It’s embarrassing enough being 13 and getting breasts without everyone in the world criticizing you for them.

  111. ChaChaHeels

    The girl decided to wear something that made her feel pretty and grown up. It’s lovely on her, and modest when you consider what her peers are wearing. The colour makes it flattering and age-appropriate, too.

    Also, to those worrying about setting off the “pervs” in the audience: pervs don’t need much to set them off, they’re usually obsessing about themselves and their powerlessness (or lack of penis length or whatever they assume makes them powerless) and they’re not concerned about what their possible victims look like or wear. We know they pick on the ones they believe won’t be able to fight back in any way, and that’s about as choosy and motivated as they get, across the board. So if you think this little girl is encouraging sexual crime because of what she wears on TV, you really have more problems than just a tendency to clutch your pearls.