Updated: Jan 5
Once upon a time I was a little girl dreaming of having a shiny scaly tail instead of legs, and gliding through the water with long locks of hair flowing behind me. My mother used to tell me bedtime stories about mermaids all the time when I was young. Maybe she instilled the love of mermaids in me, but I believe that all children are inherently mystified by mermaids. Pretending to be mermaids was a common game we would play in the pool.
I can now say I have accomplished that dream of having a tail and swimming gracefully as a real mermaid! They said I could be anything when I grew up, so naturally I became a mermaid. I only realized I could do it when I was about 14. Mermaiding had recently become a thing. I saw a video tutorial of a girl making a mermaid tail and it included footage of her swimming in it at the end. That was eye-opening to me! I decided to add it to my bucket list. Now I see it as a very easy item to check off a bucket list, and I did check it off eventually!
Professional mermaids like Mermaid Melissa and Mermaid Kariel had started their businesses a handful of years before I learned about them. They were some of the first to turn mermaiding into businesses. I discovered Mermaid Melissa first and it was mind blowing! Her tails looked so real, she could hold her breath for so long, she swam so beautifully, and even kissed a manatee! I was obsessed.
Then I discovered Mertailor. I realized how I could one day have an ultra-realistic silicone mermaid tail. I was diving into a whole new world of magic and beauty and underwater adventure. I knew it was for me. I knew it was my destiny. I’ve always been the kind of person who loved using my imagination, making stories, making costumes and frolicking around in them. I’ve also always been drawn to mermaids, so it was perfect for me.
It wasn’t til around 2013 when I made my first mermaid tail. I was working at a thrift store at the time where I sorted through donations to pick out the best ones and organize them. One day when I was sorting linens, blankets, curtains, pillows, fabrics and more, I came across some swimsuit material, like what the girl used in the video I’d watched years ago. The material was a shiny leopard print, which was good enough for me!
I sewed my first tail, which was a huge moment for me! I didn’t have a monofin but working at the thrift store I sometimes came across diving fins. I would fashion them into one piece. Nowadays it is frowned upon in the mermaid community to try to make your own monofin, but I was only learning about mermaiding and experimenting with my tails. I’ve always been a very strong swimmer, already accustomed to swimming with my legs together, so using an “unsafe” monofin posed little risk for me, but I wouldn't recommend making one.
I now know that there are some good monofins on the market that are not too cheap and I’d have saved much time and money just investing in one of them. There are Finfun monofins(affiliate link), which are inexpensive and good for a beginner mermaid.
I continued to sew tails, so many tails. It was my newest obsession and I realized I could just get swim fabric from Joanne’s. All I wanted to do was make tails. They became more elaborate, with extra fins and puff paint scales. I finally ended up buying a monofin for my tails not too long after I began making them. It was a Finis Wave.
That was a game changer! I now had a sports-grade monofin. It gave me so much speed and power and allowed me to move through the water just like a mermaid. I ended up cutting off a part of the end of it to make it be shaped more like a mermaid fluke.
I later learned how to make a silicone mermaid tail when I signed up for a sculpture class. It took many hours and hundreds of dollars, but I created my own silicone tail. Only to realize I didn't fit into it very well and ended up doing basically nothing with it...
Let’s fast forward a couple of years and a bunch of handmade tails later. I visited the island Grenada, where my sister was living while her husband studied at the medical school there. I immediately fell in love with the island life! The ocean was right on her doorstep and there were lush tropical plants and trees. We toured the island and it really left its mark on me.
I later decided to go back during winter of 2019 and stay for two months. What a life-changing experience it was! I brought two mermaid tails with me that I used fairly often, given the beach was a five minute drive from my apartment.
The waters there are crystal clear and blue, and the coral reefs are out of this world! I loved swimming in my mermaid tail through them, seeing the most amazing fish and other creatures. It was a magical experience like none I’d ever had before. While there, I decided to get SCUBA certified, knowing this was often a requirement of certain mermaid jobs.
At this point, I knew I wanted to be a professional mermaid, but I was taking my steps rather slowly. But my time in Grenada really helped me to advance as a mermaid. I met an artist who was interested in hiring me for art modeling and underwater mermaid modeling. I also befriended another mermaid! She was a real professional mermaid, which I was so excited about! Never thought I’d meet another mermaid. We became siren sisters and swam together a few times. We also filmed some underwater videos together.
I bought my first mermaid tail after returning from this trip and I dedicated my Instagram to just mermaid stuff. I was ready to start building a following as a mermaid and eventually become a professional.
I was not involved with the mermaid community then and didn’t even know about all the mermaid brands that sell amazing tails. Unfortunately this led me to purchase a knockoff of a FinFolk tail. I had no idea at the time, but I’ve since learned that those tails that come at extremely low prices, come with unsafe monofins, and steal designs should be avoided.
Even more embarrassing to look back on, is that I wore that tail to my first ever mermaid event, the Key West Mermaid Festival. Many professional mermaids were featured mermaids there, so I felt incredibly validated being among them, despite my not being a legit professional yet. Many of them had silicone tails, FinFolk Mythic tails, and Mertailor fabric tails. I felt a bit like an underdog, but I was still learning!
While participating in the festival for three days in Key West I lived out my mermaid dreams! I posed for photographs and answered questions while sitting in a mermaid throne, swam in the sea with kids who also had their own tails, participated in “breakfast with mermaids” and was in a parade. I felt like a superstar. Some kids even wanted my autograph! It was then that I realized my wildest dreams could indeed come true! I became determined to pursue them.
Since then I’ve began working for the company Aquamermaid, writing blog articles. I’ve learned very much about mermaiding from that alone. I’ve written and edited several articles about how to become a professional mermaid and that has helped me in my mermaid career.
I’ve performed as a mermaid at one kid’s birthday party, and that was the most exhilarating experience since it was my first kid's party. With that, it felt appropriate to officially call myself a professional mermaid, having made good money from it. I swam around, showed the kids tricks, initiated games, played songs, told stories, and gave them all seashell necklaces.
I haven’t been able to do more gigs due to the coronavirus pandemic, but I know one day soon I will be living my dreams some more. For the time being I do lots of writing and manage my social media pages and my Youtube channel, and now this blog.
I’ll now tell you how to become a mermaid, as promised in the title of this article!
1. Know how to swim – swimming as a mermaid is the main function of mermaids. But swimming in a tail is not safe if you are not an adept swimmer. Be sure to have mastered your front and back float, your rollover, and learn the dolphin kick movement. Dolphin kick is the swim stroke mermaids use. Here is an article that goes more in depth on swimming skills.
2. Get a tail – what’s a mermaid without a tail? There are so many tails available now, but if you are a beginner start with a fabric tail from FinFun, Suntail, Magictail, or Aquamermaid. They have the best starter tails, in my opinion. Prices on those tails range between $50 and $100 approximately, including the monofins.
3. Practice swimming in a monofin – the monofin is essential to the mermaid tail, if intended for swimming. It holds the shape of the fluke and gives you power and propulsion in the water to help you swim efficiently. It’s a good idea to get used to swimming in the monofin without the tail first, then add the tail skin when you are ready.
4. You are now a mermaid! Keep on practicing to become advanced enough to become a professional, if that is your goal.
I love being a mermaid and wouldn’t trade my fins for anything! Mermaiding has enhanced my quality of life tenfold! To learn more about mermaid things, read some of my articles featured on Aquamermaid and check out my Youtube channel!