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Unretouched: Ariel Winter on Body Positivity and Self-Confidence

Ariel Winter began acting at a very young age, starting with commercials when she was just four years old. Today, Winter stars in Modern Family, one of the most popular and long-running shows in TV history. The show has become the favorite of an entire generation, as people can easily relate to the quirky and dysfunctional families at the core of the storyline. Since she has been in the industry for just about her entire life, many have been able to watch Winter grow up on screen, which has sometimes led to struggles in her personal life. Despite all of this, Winter continues to be a symbol of self-confidence and can perfectly articulate the feeling of a generation struggling with identity and self-love.

You play Alex in Modern Family, one of the most popular shows on television, which is currently on its 10th season. What has the experience of being on a show that has run that long been like?
It’s been fantastic. We are so lucky that we got to be a part of [Modern Family] and that we are still a part of the show. To have been employed for a season is already a blessing, and for it to have gone on for ten seasons is insane. It’s a show that people genuinely like and that we genuinely enjoy making. It is cool growing up on the show because as an actor you get to learn from the other actors. It is really good practice to learn how to be an adult on set. I read the script when it got down to the final callbacks. It was funny, a family comedy; it was smartly written. However, I was also eleven, and I don’t think I fully understood the impact of how big the show could be. I didn’t realize there was even an option that it could go that far, so I thought it was really good, but I don’t know if I fully saw it. I didn’t watch a ton of TV growing up, so I don’t think I really knew what comes of a show once it gets big, other than that people watch it a lot. I didn’t know about the awards and all the other stuff that comes with it. I didn’t know what the possibilities were.

Talking about self-confidence, have you ever struggled with confidence? How have you managed to overcome this?
When I was 14 to 16, in high school, I cared about what people thought about me. And not what my classmates were saying but more what was on the Internet, since there were a lot more people who said things directly. In school, it was more like whispers that maybe I heard or maybe I didn’t. I tried to change a few of those things. Nobody thought anything better of me, the criticism didn’t stop, nobody was ever going to be happy with the way I looked. So I realized that it didn’t matter… the only person that matters is me because I am the only one who has to live with me. These people don’t know me; they know what they see on the internet. You can’t change the way you look in a major way. You are who you are, and there is no problem with that. We are always harder on ourselves than we need to be. And I also think that sometimes we think people are criticizing us, but in reality, we are just doing it to ourselves. Taking time to think about that and understand what is going on and why you feel that way, instead of brushing it aside, is important. Why live hating yourself when there is no real reason to?

The shoot that we did was all unretouched, was that different from other shoots? How so? What about it did you enjoy?
It was definitely more of a difficult process for me, not because I have to be in makeup daily, I don’t, I’m not looking red carpet standard all the time. It is just something you think about like, “Oh, well I am going to be photographed in this setting. Oh no, what if I look weird? I got a pimple today!” But it was nice to be able to do that.

Do you have any tips for young women who are struggling with their own self-confidence?
If we were all supposed to look a certain way then we would have probably evolved that way. We are all different, and that is the way it is. When we see Victoria’s Secret models, they are beautiful! There is no reason we should hate on them. We are not going to look like that person, nor do we need to. There is nothing better than looking like yourself and being unique. Nobody wants to be the same; the same is boring. We all have our different strengths, and so much makes up a person. Our features are not the only things that matter in life. Everyone’s idea of beauty is different. It doesn’t matter if you think one person’s beauty is the beauty you think every person should be. We should all be happy to be different.