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Finta stick! The growing "mermaid" subculture will be a splash

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The Associated Press

Associated Press

Kristen Gelineau

Sydney (AP) — Queen Panketabora had a crucial moment in her life that surpassed everything else. First I slipped her leg into the tail of the mermaid.

For a transgender Filipino woman approaching middle age, it's her three years ago seeing her feet wrapped in vibrant, scaly-looking neoprene. It was the realization of her dream as a child. And it marked the beginning of her immersion in the watery world she would accept. Workers at a former insurance company described the experience of gliding underwater, half humans, and half fish as "moving meditation."

One recent morning, Tabora fully teaches mermaids and freediving, relaxing on a fiery red tail on a rocky beach in southern Manila. time. "The outside world is really noisy and you will find peace in the water. â € ¦ It's a great skill in the real world, especially during a pandemic."

What like her all over the world There are thousands of merfolks — the simplest, humans of all shapes, genders and backgrounds enjoy the look of a mermaid. In recent years, more and more people have been willing to gather at mermaid conventions and conventions, form local groups called "pods," launch mermaid magazines, and pour their savings into the million-dollar mermaid tail industry. increase.

On planets plagued by war, illness, and social turmoil, many merfolks use their underwater life as a shelter. Perhaps Sebastian, the crab in the 1989 movie The Little Mermaid, is most often mentioned in his warning to the land-loving mermaid Ariel. "The human world, it's a mess. Life under the sea is better than anything they happened there."

Apart from the turmoil of critics and life on land, Marworld Is a gentler, calmer and more enjoyable alternative to the real world. According to Merfolk, it's also a world where you can be anyone and what you want.

Its openness attracts transgender people who sympathize with Ariel's pain of being trapped in her sick body. Also, Washington D, which promotes healthy mermaids. C. It also inspires mermaids like Che Monique, the founder of the Society of Fat Mermaids based in.

"I'm a 300-pound black fish in America over the age of 35. I hope it tells someone what I want to do," the group said. Says Monique, who sells shirts. Read "Fat mermaids make waves" and "Gender is fluid under the sea". "Sure, it's really ridiculous on the one hand, but I've seen it change people's lives."

After all, the oceans are vast and most of the planet is water. She says it is covered. So why not dive in?

"I think there is a room under the sea for all of us," says Monique.


The charm of the mermaid is clear from the house of Mariel Henault in Montreal, where the tail of the mermaid is packed in the gills.

They line up her hangers and drawers, are pushed into a suitcase, drip from a plastic storage tank, and are ready for sale by 31-year-old Aqua Mermaid CEO to "mers" around the world. .. About 20 tails belong to Henault himself.

“Tailing a mermaid on the beach or pool makes you a superstar,” says Henault, who runs mermaid schools in Canada and the United States. "Everyone, from children to adults, is delighted to see mermaids."

When mermaids first became popular, most tails on sale weighed up to 23 kilograms (50 pounds). Weighing in), it cost more than $ 6,000 and was a custom-made silicone product that worked with amazing time and lubricants. Into. However, over the past few years, cheaper and lighter fabric options have become more available, some of which sell for less than $ 100, and the mermaid community has come from an exclusive excursion for privileged professionals. It has turned into an achievable dream for a wider audience.

As mermaids became mainstream, fascinating pictures of mermaids with flashy tails began to attract attention on social media, further inspiring mermaids. The obsession with "The Little Mermaid" is common among mermaids, and a new wave of mermaid interest is expected when a live-action reboot of the movie is released next year.

Swimming with the tail requires practice and requires a device called a monofin (a single fin with both legs inserted) that freedivers have been using for a long time. It is important for mermaids to master dolphin kicks, along with equalization techniques to reduce ear pressure in the water.

PADI, SSI and NAUI, the world's leading scuba diving accreditation bodies, currently offer mermaid courses. There is also the last World Mermaid Championship in China in 2019. In this championship, 70 mermaids are upside down and posing in a giant glass tank in front of a pensive jury.

Henault, who participated in the World Championships, wants to help the mermaids win the Olympics. This has the potential as a demonstration sport. In recent years, several "Merlympics" events have been held in Europe and the United Kingdom.

Last weekend, a large number of merfolk flocked to the city of New York for the annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade. And the mermaid competition (“Mermaid”) is now being held worldwide. Last month, more than 300 mermaids from across the United States and Canada attended the California Mermaid Convention. This was "a three-day" shell evolution "of all mermaids," as explained by convention co-founder Rachel Smith. Also, according to fellow co-founder Ashley Rastad, "It was a" dolphin-really "fun time." (Note: The mermaid community is full of puns.)

For most merfolks, it's all a little joke. But it also makes a lot of sense. Floating in the pool of Sacramento, where fellow California convention participants gathered, Marman Maui summarized the importance of the community as follows: "I have a new family with all these people."

"We all believe in magic at some point, so have a little or a lot of fun. Learning will make your life much better, "says Maui. "In many cases, life can be quite boring and boring, so why not enjoy all the aspects you can do?"


Mermaids , Can give you a chance to be someone else. But it can also give you the opportunity to be like yourself.

Mermaid Nymphia grew up as a child representing a man in the 1990s, and gender norms shattered her dream of dressing up as her idol, Ariel. A few years later, as an adult transgender woman, her dream finally came true when she helped her mother sew her first mermaid outfit.

Nymphia later discovered a diverse community of like-minded Ma online, and at the suggestion of her mother, her lifelong obsession with her. I changed to a profession. Based in Los Angeles, Nymphia has since appeared in everything from her children's parties to corporate events and was a Transmerfolk Ambassador at the California Mermaid Convention in 2019.

Nymphia says the theme of the "Little Mermaid" fish-to-human transformation is inspiring subsections of the LGBTQ community.

"In transgender and non-binary merfolk, it's often associated with the spirit of not knowing which world you belong to, but it's become this fascinating sea creature and the most lively. You can live with. The real self, "says Nymphia. "Many people, including myself, have found gender identity using mermaids."

In the Philippines, Tabora also praises the inclusiveness of the mermaid community. ..

"We can accommodate young people, heterosexuals, homosexuals, and older people," says Tabora, whose mermaid school is called DIVERSity by SeaReynang Pengki. "Anyone can be a mermaid."

She also found a connection between her personal transformation and Ma's world. For her, it's all about evolution — she's herself and the ocean.

"As a transgender, it's a transition," says Tabora. "It's like the sea, everything evolves. Fish evolves, coral evolves."

"mersona" is Mermaid Saracia: Dalestair Kidd, the witch of the South Australian sea, When Kidd emerged as transgender and non-binary, it discovered that the mermaid community was reassuringly embracing.

"It doesn't matter who you are. We all share this love for the sea," said Marcon Australia's 2017 Miss Congeniality. Kid, the proud winner of "Sandable Shark," says. Award. "If your birth name doesn't suit you, you can choose a name. It doesn't have to be the one assigned at birth. You can choose a pronoun .... And it's okay, because the fish I don't care about pronouns. "


Merfolk admits that their nearly utopia is occasionally shaken by the stormy seas. As the popularity of mermaids grows, so does the creep called "Marbert" and the prevalence of scammers selling non-existent tails, says Facebook group creator Kelly Haigema.

"Because it's a mermaid, women are the main hobbies and professions. Of course, it's attracting attention from strangers on the Internet," said Haigema, who lives on St. Thomas in the Caribbean. say. "Most of the time, it's an eerie comment that you want to see you without a tail, hold your breath in the water, etc."

Hygema tells Merfolk, in the tail. We always advise you to have a reliable companion, or "martender," while you play.

"If you have your feet tied, you can't escape, so it's important to put your feet there to see if you're okay," she says. The

tail also raises safety concerns for some consumer groups. A 2018 study of 25 children by the Royal Lifesaving Society of Western Australia found that the majority had 70% swimming ability when using mermaid fins and 60% when using the tail. It turns out that we have experienced an average decline. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission said it had received three reports of mermaid tail-related incidents over the past four years. The most serious of these was the hospitalization of a 5-year-old girl after pushing her arm into her tail with her. She was trapped in her legs and water.

Especially why proper training is important, says Lauren Metzler, founder of Sydney Mermaids. This month, Metzeler earned an advanced mermaid qualification with the goal of teaching rookie Merfolk how to avoid sinking to the ocean floor.

As Metzeler walks to the harbor and slips into the sparkling pink and turquoise tails, Manly, on the beachside outskirts of Sydney, is approaching dawn. She scooped backwards along the sand, into the chilly grey-blue water, and laughed with some funny grins from commuters heading to the city for a nearby ferry.

"Some people drink coffee to wake up in the morning, others swim mermaids," Metzeler laughs and slides her glistening sequined skin through the water. I say while. "This tail is a lot of fun to swim."

And at its core is everything for many merfolks. It's fun. According to Metzeler, there is a strong need to simply be creative and enjoy, especially after the COVID-related blockade.

"The more we expand our imagination and accept what everyone is like, the more beautiful it becomes," she says. "The sky or the seabed is the limit of what a mermaid can do."


AP Communications Journalist Serginho Roosblad of Sacramento, California contributed to this report.