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It’s pretty safe to say that Alex Dunphy would not approve.
Over the weekend, Ariel Winter posted a shot on Instagram from her high school graduation party thrown by her sister, Shanelle, and brother-in-law, David. The Modern Family star thanked her sibling (who is also her legal guardian) for the beautiful bash, as well as other friends and her father for cheering her on.
However, it’s the 18-year-old’s dress that has caught the attention of many people on social media, as well as in the always opinionated comment section on People.com — and not everyone is titillated by her suggestive style.
While the UCLA-bound actress has been showing her sexier side lately, this skintight dress with a keyhole cutout that displays her ample underboob might be her most jaw-dropping wardrobe choice yet. And mental health professionals say her latest party look may be a fashion statement with meaning.
“How we dress sends a message that says a lot about our emotional and psychological well-being,” Stacy Kaiser, psychotherapist and author of How to Be a Grown Up: The Ten Secret Skills Everyone Needs to Know, tells Yahoo Style. “So she may have dressed in this provocative way for a few reasons.”
No. 1 on Kaiser’s list: She’s seeking attention. “And it has worked because she is getting it!”
“I believe Ariel’s dress is a classic case of an insecure girl trying too hard to get attention and to be thought of as sexy,” Carole Lieberman, MD, psychiatrist and author of Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets, tells Yahoo Style. “She is likely trying to differentiate herself from Alex, the [conservative] character she plays on Modern Family.”
However, Lieberman feels this provocative dress is about more than just turning heads. “The deeper unconscious roots probably relate to her dysfunctional relationship with her mother, from whom she was legally emancipated from one year ago.”
Kaiser concurs that “self-esteem issues causing her to seek attention to fill the emotional holes” could also be a factor. “She might be rebelling against someone, something, or an image in her own mind by doing something that is out of the normal range for her,” she says.
Yet earlier this month, Kylie Jenner stepped out in a skintight jumpsuit that flashed her underboob, but this didn’t seem to trigger any backlash. So why the double standard?
“Kylie Jenner is a Kardashian, so people expect her to be over-the-top in order to try to keep up with her sisters,” Lieberman says.
But perhaps Winter is simply proud of her curvy figure, particularly after the breast reduction surgery she had last year. “Maybe she is feeling great about her body and just wants to draw attention to it,” adds Kaiser.