Ariel Winter Of ‘Modern Family’ Wishes Happy Mother’s Day To Her Sister, Her Surrogate Mother

Comic actress Ariel Winter, 18, known for her performance as the teenaged genius Alex Dunphy on the ABC primetime hit sitcom Modern Family, used Instagram to wish a happy Mother’s Day to her older sister, Shanelle Workman, 37, also known as Shanelle Gray. Workman stepped in and finished raising Ariel Winter following the actress’s removal from their mother’s custody after allegations of both physical and emotional abuse from their mother, Chrisoula Workman.

Ariel Winter’s sister first filed to become her legal guardian in 2006, received emergency custody in 2012, and received full permanent custody in 2014. Winter received legal emancipation from her mother almost exactly one year ago, in May 2015. Shanelle Workman told the court that she was also abused by their mother when she was a minor, and she was also removed from her mother’s care. Concerns from the staff of Modern Family about the behavior of Ariel Winter’s mother were also entered as evidence.

Ariel Winter has chosen not to speak publicly about the reason that she continues to avoid contact with her mother. In her guardianship petition, Shanelle Workman stated that Chrisoula Workman slapped, hit, and pushed Ariel Winter. She also stated that their mother was verbally abusive, called her names and made vicious comments about Winter’s weight. She claimed that their mother made various attempts to “sexualize” her minor child and denied her food for extended periods.

Ariel Winter also used Instagram to wish her sister a happy Mother’s Day last year.

Ariel Winter made an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in March according to Us Weekly. During this appearance, Winter showered Shanelle Workman with praise, saying that the two are best friends and that she counts on her older sister for everything. After Shanelle Workman received custody of Ariel Winter, their father, Glenn Workman, received financial control over Winter’s estate. Winter included him in the family members that she considered supportive and wished to thank after she received her legal emancipation. She also wished him, and Shanelle Workman’s husband, David Gray, a happy Father’s Day last year.

Ariel Winter speaks often about self-respect and about not shaming or disrespecting others. When Kim Kardashian West posted a nude selfie on social media back in March and received criticism for it from high-profile figures — notably from actress Chloë Grace Moretz, Bette Midler, and Piers Morgan, who regularly seems to field accusations of misogyny as well as racism — Ariel Winter took to Instagram and Twitter to defend Kardashian West’s right to express herself and to do whatever was best for her when it comes to her own body.

Ariel Winter also pointed out that because of gender and gender roles, there is a double standard when it comes to this sort of thing, and no one concern-trolls or slut-shames when Justin Bieber posts a nude photo of himself the way they do when Kim Kardashian West or another female celebrity chooses to do exactly the same thing.

Ariel Winter recently shared a general sentiment about self-respect and putting oneself first on Good Morning America, explaining it in the context of her own past.

“Don’t take anything for granted, for sure, because I have an amazing life now, but I know what it’s like to not. So I definitely am grateful for everything I have. Everyone I have. Everything I have. And to always—not in a selfish way—but always put yourself first. I think it’s really hard a lot when you’re in certain situations to be able to do that, but I think it’s really important to love yourself and be there for yourself first before you do anything else.”

Guardianship cases in California are public record. Shanelle Workman and her legal team requested that the Ariel Winter case and its proceedings be sealed, but the judge refused their request, and the media went to town as one would expect. The case was filed under Ariel’s birth name, Ariel Workman.

[Image courtesy of Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images]

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