THE SHAPE OF A WOMAN: HER ROOTS

By BELLA CROTTI

 Anna Atkins

Anna Atkins

Introduction

In a society filled with poor depictions of women, I aim to test the reality of female relationships. Whether it be negatively or positively, all women, or people for that matter, have been impacted in some way by the presence of a woman, or lack thereof, in their life. While the representation of petty and vying female relationships in television shows and movies can absolutely be true in some circumstances, I challenge the notion that it is in our blood to compete, but rather believe it is put at the forefront of our humanity due to cultural expectations displayed in the media. I strive to paint a picture of real-life relationships between real-life women by diving deep beyond the surface level images of women expressed in our society and finding the truth behind how women help to mold one another.  

     As a young woman who grew up with a very close relationship with her mother, I am very attentive to the impact that she has had on my life. Throughout the evolution of my womanhood, I have become increasingly inspired by women and the different ways that they are constantly breaking stereotypes and social norms and opening up a new world filled with emotionally and intellectually stimulating relationships with one another. What I have grown up seeing in the media involving female/female relationships has always seemed extraordinarily fictional compared to what I have witnessed in real life. My inclination to feed this curiosity by exploring my own female relationships at a deeper level has led me to the point where I am today, which is overwhelmingly interested in other’s experiences with the women in their life. I want to learn more about the influences of female relationships, especially on young women, because I believe that they have a great impact on how we view ourselves and others in the world. The types of female relationships are limitless and do not always present themselves in a positive light, but whatever the case may be, they have sculpted us. Thus encouraging me to explore: The Shape of A Woman. 


Micaela Diamond is a fiercely passionate and talented eighteen year old actress based in New York City. Micaela came into my life in a whirlwind, the way she seems to do everything. This captivating young woman became my best friend slowly and then all at once and has been enriching my life ever since. One of the first things I learned about Micaela had to do with the uncensored and unique relationship she had with her mother, Karen. I sat down with Micaela and made her tell me all about the fairytale relationship between her and her mother and how it has shaped the woman she has become. Once upon a time… 

Bella Crotti: Okay here we go, make me fall in love with your mom all over again. 

Micaela Diamond: Everyone likes her more than me, I swear!

Yes, we all love Karen…now tell me a little bit about you two.

She is 59 years old and it has pretty much just been me and her conquering the world since I was seven years old.

So that means your mom was 41 when she had you? 

Yes, she was 41, which is pretty late in life. Throughout her twenties and thirties, she was very career driven and having a child wasn’t in her original plan. Once she met my father and they decided to start trying she had a lot of miscarriages and really struggled to get pregnant. Then she finally had me and went through menopause a year later. We joke around saying that I was her only and last chance. 

The small age difference between my mom and I has influenced our relationship greatly. I’m curious if you feel the larger age gap between you two has had a major impact as well? 

I love our age difference and I love having an “old” mom. It’s something we have talked a lot about since I was little. She is just so wise and has so many life experiences to share with me. 

 Anonymous photographer courtesy of Bella Crotti

Anonymous photographer courtesy of Bella Crotti

You guys are not originally from New York City. When did you move here?

My mom and I moved in 2011 so I was 12 years old. We are originally from Margate, New Jersey. We stayed here for the summer once because I was in a show and that’s when we fell in love. We decided to move out here about two months later.

I remember being at your apartment one time this year and you guys talked about your move a bit. You both admitted to each other that you hated the city your initial year. You said this was the first time you had talked about it, which is uncharacteristic of you two.

Yeah, neither of us loved it at first but we didn’t want to make the other feel bad so I guess we kept it from each other during that year and forgot about it as things got better. Moving meant leaving a lot behind for both of us, but she did it for me so “Thank you, Mom.” 

Are there any things that stick out to you, positively or negatively, during that transition time?

Well, my mom didn’t have a job for our first year and a half living there so we had to live on a pretty strict budget. She somehow found a way for it to be interesting and never feel like we were restricted. She would turn saving our money into a game by challenging me to go a week without Starbucks or something like that. She tried to make it seem like it was no big deal. 

What are some lessons that she taught you while you were growing up?

During this time of her finding a job, I learned a lot about not settling. There were a lot of jobs that came up that she could have done and would have made those first sixteen or seventeen months easier, but she wanted to make sure she was happy with what she was doing. 

When was the first time you saw your mom’s humanity?

While she was job searching she had one bad breakdown. I knew that she didn’t want me to see her like that, but this taught me that she is only human and that that isn’t a bad thing. It also was almost a relief seeing the strongest woman I know still feel scared and sad. It made me realize that it was okay for me to feel like that sometimes too. I’m thankful for this moment of her letting her walls down in front of me because it really shifted our relationship. She was no longer just my person, but I became hers too. 

That makes a lot of sense because now you guys have open communication about everything…

Yes, haha. Sometimes people are surprised by it. Ever since I was little she would talk to me about things that could be seen as “controversial.”

If I ever had questions about bodies, boys, sex, etc. she laid it all out on the table. She couldn’t wait to talk to me about my period and for me to finally get it. [laughs] There came a point when I would get grossed out by it all and run away, especially if I heard my mom say the word penis but seven years later and I’m grateful she eliminated that barrier so early on in my life. Everything was always allowed to be talked about and she reminded me constantly. I didn’t quite get it at first, but once I got older I realized she did this so that I knew I could tell her anything because odds are we had already talked about it.

That is so cool. A lot of people have opposite experiences with their parents and it is uncomfortable to talk about sex or relationships with them. 

Yeah, my mom made sure that wasn’t the case. She constantly asked me to please tell her when I lost my virginity and when the time came, I did. I crawled into bed with her, woke her up, told her it happened, and she proceeded to congratulate me and said we would talk more in the morning. 

I have never really regretted anything involving my relationships because I was so prepared and already knew what I was getting myself into. If any questions came up, it was likely my mom had answered them a long time ago.

Has your relationship influenced your views on motherhood? Do you want to be a mother?

Yes, I want to be a mom. I used to even tell my mom I wanted to be a single mom. I loved the way I was raised and I didn’t see the need for anyone else to be involved, but my mom said it is easier with a partner. I get that now, but honestly, I’ve always just wanted to be a mom because I loved mine so much. 

Is there something specific your mom does as a parent that you want to pass down to your kids?

A huge thing that my mom has always done that I want to pass down to my children has to do with self-love and body image. I have never heard her once say anything negative about her body or appearance. If she is having a bad day, I’ll hear her say something like “I need to go to yoga today,” but that’s the extent of it. I think that knowing she doesn’t judge her body helps me not to judge mine. I will never talk negatively about myself in front of my children.

My mom also never said no to me while I was growing up. That sounds like it could be problematic, but it actually shaped my decision making process. If she didn’t think I should do something she would explain the consequences to me and let me decide. Most times I would hear her out and not do it, but the times that I did she never held it against me. I was able to learn from my mistakes on my own. She never wanted me to feel like I was rebelling against her so that way if something did go wrong I still felt like I could call her. This is super important to me because it helped me learn how to formulate my own opinions and make smarter decisions as a young adult so that’s something I want to try to implement with my kids in the future.

 Anonymous photographer courtesy of Bella Crotti

Anonymous photographer courtesy of Bella Crotti

You have some new and exciting things coming up in your career. Is there anything you are nervous about entering this industry as a young woman?

Oh my god, yes. A huge thing for me right now is dealing with being in an industry where my look is a big part of my job. I am trying to find a healthy way to deal with the fact that there are somethings I can’t change and that’s a good thing. I remind myself that the things I pick apart help make me the actress that I am. Ya know, maybe I wouldn’t have the same sound if my face wasn’t so narrow or maybe I wouldn’t be a dancer if I didn’t have muscular thighs. It is much easier said than done, but I am working on it.

Were there ever any times when your mom wasn’t supportive of you as an artist? 

No. She was always supportive. She wasn’t a theater person, but she has learned to love it. She never questioned whether or not it was a worthy career or if it was a “phase.” I never realized how many people’s parents weren’t supportive of pursuing a career in the arts until I got older. But her support is definitely what encouraged me to tackle my dreams head on.

What does being a woman mean to you?

My woman is a lot about confidence. I really think that you need to have a very personal relationship with your self-worth and knowing how to execute that. This can be difficult because confidence gets interchanged with cockiness especially as a woman, but it is something that is a huge part of who I am and how I have chosen to live my life as a woman. 

I also think that being a woman is about being open to change and evolution. I have always been privileged to grow up in an environment that encourages me to explore the different layers of my womanhood and each time I discover something new I feel very lucky to be so complex and unique. 

How has your relationship with your mom shaped the woman you have become?

My mom is a very positive person. She is always able to look past a person’s flaws, which is something that I have a difficulty doing. If I catch myself being judgemental, I try to think of how my mom would handle the situation or view this person. She has taught me to see the humanity in all people and that has helped me realize how similar we all actually are. I have a lot of women in my life who push me to look for the best in people and I always end up growing from these situations. Odds are if I’m having a hard time giving something or someone a chance, my mom already has and that inspires me to do the same. She has made me a more compassionate and understanding woman, which has been crucial growing up in a society that pits women against each other.

 

@bellacrotti