The cast of Modern Family has shared a lot of fond memories through filming the ABC sitcom for over a decade. But one of the show’s younger cast members, Ariel Winter, said that growing up on camera wasn’t one of them.
During a Television Critics Association panel on Wednesday, the 21-year-old told reporters about the stress that she experienced after joining the show’s cast at just 11 years old and becoming a young adult in front of the world.
“Growing up in front of everybody is difficult. It's stressful,” Winter said. “Millions of people think they can comment on your life.”
Especially with social media, Winter has been subject to online hate and unsolicited feedback about her physical appearance. And although the show’s young actors, including Nolan Gould, said they experienced some of the same embarrassment, Winter said that women are subject to more harsh criticism.
“The year I had braces was an awful year for me,” she explained. “I went through puberty over the summer. I had other things.”
Her co-star Sarah Hyland also had a difficult time, although not as much with puberty since she was older, but instead with side effects from health problems. The 29-year-old actress has been open about having kidney dysplasia and the two kidney transplants that she had as a result. Still, when her appearance was affected by a certain medication that she was taking, Hyland said people were quick to attack her for it.
“I cannot stand watching seasons four and five because I had Prednisone face and I had gained 30 pounds and that’s something I think Ariel and I went through around the same time,” she explained. “People love to attack women especially.”
Hyland went on to praise Winter for the way that she’s handled the attacks — as has their on-screen mom, Julie Bowen. Although Winter said dealing with trolls is something she’s gotten better at over the years.
“I’d respond and be salty to somebody who was salty to me or I'd respond and try and be nice about it and hope maybe their day goes better," she recalled from her earlier years in the spotlight. "But as I got older, I developed a thicker skin and I said to myself, 'It's still going to bother me because it never goes away. You’re still human. You’ve just got to remember these people online, what they’re saying, it’s not your opinion of yourself.’”
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