If you're part of the mermaid community and haven't heard about this, then you must have been living under a rock or had kelp in your ears. A couple days ago, there was Huffington Post report that mermaid tails were the new summer trend, showcasing a Vancouver company called 3 Fins.
Here's the post that started it:
The CBC here in Vancouver picked it up as well:
And Gobal news had a little piece on Mermaiding on their noon news hour. My mum caught it while my brother was at a doctor's appointment. She said it was well done and focused on water safety.
What's been happening in the Mermaid Community over this so-called 'mermaid trend' is absolutely astonishing to me, and not at all in the good way.
Now, some of the concerns I do feel are valid. The big 'what if' going around right now is if someone puts on a tail who is not ready and drowns. Mers are concerned the community will be blamed and that fin swimming will be banned at public pools. My answer is simply this: someone who is a very poor swimmer will never voluntarily strap their legs together. Russ used to be a very poor swimmer and even the thought of his face being wet made him not want to go in the water. The fear of water and drowning is very strong in people who cannot swim or swim poorly. They're not going to put on tails. However, I understand the concern and as always, I am a stickler for water safety and swimming ability. If you cannot do your four basic strokes well, or tread water - you have no business trying to swim in a mermaid tail yet. Keyword: yet.
However, the more concerning trend in the Mermaid Community is the fact that now some of us are feeling like mermaiding is going to become mainstream. Apparently, every little girl and boy and teen and adult are going to be throwing on mermaid tails and making it less special for the people who have been mermaids forever.
I find this attitude very distasteful.
I became a mermaid after I saw Lady Gaga perform in one of the Mertailor's black tails, and got full blown obsessed when I saw Yuyi. I would love a Yuyi tail. The day I found MerNetwork, there was a post made about how Lady Gaga inspired mermaids were going to ruin it for people trying to be professional mermaids; that I was making mermaiding too 'mainstream'. It made me feel terrible, until I decided I liked mermaiding and what it meant to me, and stopped caring about that particular mer and her opinions. Hooray for the ignore button!
Well, this attitude is happening again. I have seen more than one mermaid say how this new summer trend is going to ruin our community and make their lifestyle less meaningful. They've gone as far as classifying themselves as 'non-mainstream' mers because they view mermaiding as a lifestyle, and 'mainstream' mers as girls who just want to play dress-up. They talk down the girl or boy who just wants to wear a tail, saying that it means less and it makes mermaiding mean less.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Sounds like the same arguments people made when women got the right to vote and blacks were granted their freedom. Hell, it sounds the same as the argument being made against gay marriage.
That someone else is going to come in and make what we have less meaningful and that is wrong somehow.
We shouldn't be shunning these new people to our community. We should be embracing it, and welcoming them into the sport and world we so love. We are leaders and mentors, not elitist snobs who look down upon others. So what if they only stay with us a year? One of those trendy mers will experience the epiphany that binds mermaids together; he or she will connect in some way with mermaids, or the ocean, or cetaceans, or something completely different! That weird girl who's always wanted a mermaid tail will have a safe place. 'Trendy' mers are not a threat to anyone in the mermaid community. People and mermaids are like the tide, we come and we go.
We are all mermaids, no matter how long we've been doing it or what it means to us personally. We put on pretend mermaid tails. We're all a little weird. Who are we to look down on anyone else who wants to be like one of us?
I leave you with a sarcastic remark from Hipster Bjossa: