I walked through the oversized, chestnut doors of Ariel Winter's suite at The London Hotel in New York City on Thursday morning and caught my first glimpse of her sitting by the window, legs crossed and hands relaxed in her lap.
She stood when she saw me, smoothed her pastel pink skirt and shook my hand before we took a seat for our interview.
I was excited — and a little anxious — to meet the woman behind the role of "Modern Family's" Alex Dunphy.
I'm a big fan of Ariel, both when she's on and off screen. I follow her on social media and find myself captivated by her lifestyle. At only 18 years old, the girl has accomplished more than I probably will in my life.
Ariel has made herself a social influencer to young women, gaining a total of 2.5 million followers on Instagram. She's part of an award-winning cast and has dreams of one day becoming a lawyer. She also just graduated from high school and accepted an offer of admission to attend UCLA.
It seems like she has it all, but things weren't always easy and positive for the child star.
Ariel has opened up about being cyberbullied and body-shamed online. She's experienced self-consciousness and doubt due to the negative comments from others, but over the years, she's been able to move past the hate by fostering self-acceptance and love.
Now, Ariel works as one of the ambassadors for Dove's #SpeakBeautiful campaign to share her story and spread the message to others.
She was able to sit down with me and Elite Daily Social Editor Lydia Mansel to discuss body confidence, internet trolls and how we, together, can promote positivity online.
Ariel and I sat side by side on the edge of a purple suede couch with our backs against the window. I peered over my shoulder and absorbed the gorgeous view of Manhattan behind us.
“Holy crap! Look at this place!” I told her, eloquent as always.
After we briefly admired the city, we turned back around to chat.
Katie Corvino: So, I'd love to hear more about the campaign. I know it focuses on giving parents and teachers the tools to help young women combat online negativity. How are you getting involved with that?
Ariel Winter: Over the years, I've struggled with body confidence issues... It's really important nowadays to empower young women — and young men… to feel really good about themselves, not only their appearance, but to feel good enough to speak about issues that are important to them and to stand up for themselves when necessary.
KC: That's awesome. So you talk about body positivity online a lot. I mean, we follow you on social media. We're big fans, we love what you stand for.
AW: Thank you!
*At this point in time, I'm sweating a lot and trying not to pee in my pants.*
KC: So I was curious to know how you filter out the negative comments. Do you block people, do you ignore them? Do you read them and just shrug it off?
AW: Well it's really taken me years to be able to get to a place where I'm OK with it. I started out at 11 years old in the spotlight, and I was super flat… I had no curves and I was getting hate for that.
Then I turned 12, and my body changed instantly and I was this curvy woman... but as soon as that happened, I got so much hate for that [too].
And it was really hard for me… I'd read the negative comments and think to myself, well maybe if I just change [this one thing] people will like me… they'll appreciate the things I have to say and the things I do.
But that never happened. They never appreciated anything I did regardless…
KC: You can't win.
AW [nodding]: Yeah, and I started to realize that I can't win. So for me, it got to a point where I was like, I don't care.
If I can't win, I'm going to work on a relationship with myself, which I also think is the most important thing we can teach young women and men today.
And for me, now I post a photo and I don't care. If you're going to write something on it, whatever... If somebody doesn't like what I'm doing, you can unfollow me.
KC: Yeah, like bye!
*Shut up, Katie. LET THE GIRL SPEAK!*
AW: I like the way I look, I posted it for a purpose. If you don't like the way I look, then I'm sorry.
KC: Yo, tell it like it is. That's gonna be my next Instagram caption.
*Ariel in her head: "Who the fuck is this girl?"*
KC: So I write for the internet, I get it. No matter what you do or say, someone has something negative to say about it. Why do you think people troll the internet? What do you think people are hoping to gain?
AW: I think it's easier… I also try and tell people when you see people's negative comments on your Instagram or your Twitter or whatever, you gotta think there's something not going well in their lives to make them need to post this.
So it's never good to write back something negative. Writing back something positive and beautiful, as the campaign promotes, is what's more empowering for you.
It really changes the conversation when you don't fight fire with fire because writing something negative opens up a whole conversation for things to get nasty or mean.
KC: And then other people join in, too.
AW: Exactly, and it's sad but nowadays it's considered cool to be negative and to write mean things on people's pages and they sit and laugh about it… but it's really not.
KC: You talked about how you're in a better place now… with yourself and your confidence. Can you recall a specific comment that perhaps hurt you when you were younger and how you moved past it?
AW: I was called a fat slut a lot.
KC: Oh, hey, we've been there. You're preaching to the choir.
AW: It was pretty terrible to be called that at 13 and 14 years old for no purpose.
I was wearing the same things that my friends were wearing, but I unfortunately would get criticism for that. It really affected me because I was thinking, you don't know me...
It took a while, but then I was just over it. I like wearing what I'm wearing, I like eating what I'm eating.
KC: Hell yeah. I feel you, though. I'll post a picture of my dog and people will criticize me: 'YOU LOOK GROSS IN THIS PIC.'
AW: 'SCREW YOUR DOG!'
KC: 'YOUR DOG IS A SLUT.'
*She was laughing, I promise.*
KC: If you could say something to your haters face to face, what would it be?
AW: I think I would probably ask my haters to say to my face what they say online.
KC: OOOOOHHHH, get 'em.
AW: I think on the internet you have this veil where nobody sees you and you're just behind your computer typing all this mean stuff, but it's hard to say it in person… so I'd ask them to say it to my face.
KC: That's perfect. What would you say is the thing you love the most about yourself?
AW: Like a feature?
Lydia Mansel: Or a trait?
AW: If we wanna go silly, I love my butt. I'm a butt person. I've always been a butt person.
KC [cheering]: Let's goooooo.
AW: I like big butts.
KC: Big butts are great.
AW: They don't lie, it's fun.
KC [shouting]: ITS ALL ABOUT THE BUTTS.
*Calm down, Katie.*
AW [also shouting]: YES LADIES, BIG BUTTS!
We are mature adults.
KC: Do you think your personal style reflects your personality?
AW [laughing]: Uhhh, it probably does. I'm all over the place, so I'll try anything. I'm not really a pink person, but I'm wearing a pink skirt right now.
KC: I only wear black.
*Why do I speak?*
AW: I'm definitely all over the place.
KC: Oh, and you also just joined Snapchat. What's that like?
AW: It's fun! I like it because I don't get comments back from it, I just post what I think is cool and other people can view it.
LM: Do you have a favorite Snapchat filter?
AW: I loved when they had the toast. I don't know why but the toast kills me. You're literally just a piece of toast.
KC: I like the ones that make me look as ugly as possible because then it's like, 'Oh, I'm only ugly because of the filter, it's not really me.'
*She's obsessed with me, it's fine.*
KC: So can we take photos with you? You know, for Instagram.
*My friends are gonna be so jealous.*
AW: Sure! Do you want us to sit or stand up?
KC: Girl, whatever you want. Lydia, make sure we look like models!
Welp, at least Ariel looks good.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.