What it’s like being a real-life mermaid

Does anyone want to give me $3,000 for a silicone tail?

Once upon a time it was 3am on Black Friday, and I was perusing Amazon.com when I came across discounted mermaid tails. Of course I bought one, and from that moment forward, my life drastically changed.

“How do you even swim in that?” you might ask, or “is it difficult to learn,” or maybe just, “why?” Well, I’ll tell you everything I’ve learned, and maybe someday you too can be a real-life mermaid.

Do your research 

When buying a tail it is important to know everything about tails before making a purchase. What brand is best? What color won’t fade? Does it come with a warranty?

Speaking from experience, one of the most important things to make sure you know, is if it comes with a monofin. A monofin is the hard “fluke” or flipper part of the tail, without this it will not work in the water.

Good beginner fabric tail brands include Fin Fun, Mertailor and Swimtails. These are a good option if you’re looking for an affordable tail.

Picking the color of your tail is the best part. I would suggest jewel tones, or darker colors. Light pinks, yellows or oranges are likely to show more wear and tear. (You can also take online quizzes to determine what your mermaid tail color would be… Here is a tail color quiz)

Matching Merch

Fair warning, if you are obsessed with mermaids as much as I am, you will find yourself constantly buying mermaid memorabilia.

Luckily, there are so many things on the market right now that cater to all your mer-dreams. Amazon supplies most of my mermaid themed shirts, leggings, hair pieces and more.

Happy shopping! (Sorry about your bank account)

Swimming in a tail

Yeah, it’s not easy. This #candid pic of me depicts that pretty well. Just like anything else, it takes practice.

And eventually you’ll get the hang of it, just like I did!

My advice is to first practice dolphin kicking without a tail, just trying to keep your legs together as you swim, us humans aren’t used to this, and it can prove to be difficult for some people. Be safe, and practice without being constrained first!

Next, try going for a swim in just the monofin (without the colorful fabric tail). This will let you pull a foot out if you need to catch your balance or get to the surface quickly.

Mermaiding is a HUGE workout. Get ready for what mermaids and mermen call “mer-abs” and “mer-arms.” Every inch of you will burn after a good swim, but that’s how you know you’re doing it right. It looks graceful and easy because that’s our job!

Making a tail look natural in pictures

Yeah, this is a thing, and it’s really difficult.

The best thing you can do, is keep your knees straight or only slightly bent, and point your toes (always point your toes).

In fabric tails it is easy to see your knees, the seam of your tail and the outline of your monofin. I believe it’s truly an art learning how to gracefully contort your body for pictures (especially selfies).

The community

Mermaids are becoming more and more popular, so you will find there is a whole slew of merpeople all over the world who range from professional mermaids to those who just do it for fun.

If you become a mermaid, you will also start to notice your kin showing up everywhere. Cups, posters, billboards and more (shoutout to Starbucks).

Always be sure to snap a picture!

Swimming in public

Speaking of pictures, if you go mermaiding at a public beach or pool, expect some paparazzi. People will love your tail, and will be so amazed that the product exists! Here are some tips for swimming in public.

If someone wants a picture with you, let them take it! They’ll post it online and more people will know about the mermaid life.

If children want to touch your tail, tell them to be gentle and not to pull because “it will hurt my fins” or some other fishy excuse. Wear and tear on your tail isn’t good and it’s difficult to fix, so it’s best to tell the little ones to just go easy.

Your friends and family might want to try your tail. This is probably not the best idea. All tails are sized, and some are even custom made to fit a clients figure. A person with a different body type could stretch your fabric or silicone, leaving you with a floppy tail.

Cleaning your tail

Yes, sand gets everywhere. How can you be sure to keep your tail nice and healthy? Clean it of course!

Don’t machine wash a fabric tail, instead hand wash it in cold soapy water and let it hang dry. Silicone tails are a little more difficult, they need fans, pat downs and deep cleaning.

But, no matter the tail-type, it is very  important to maintain a clean, well working tail!

Finding safe spots to swim

When mermaiding, it’s important to know your surroundings. Getting in and out of your tail on the bank of a lake or river can be dangerous if it’s heavy with boat traffic.

Pick a location that is not boater-popular, and one that gives you easy access to the water. Sandy beaches are the easiest to get in and out of I’ve found. Otherwise, banks with rocks to sit on or trees that hang out into the water can provide you with a nice seat to get situated on before diving into the waters.

Mermaids love the water

If you are a true mermaid, you are dedicated to keeping our rivers, lakes, oceans, and streams clean. Beaches are safest for people (and merpeople) if they are clean and garbage free.

Do your community a favor and help with water-side clean up!

University of Wisconsin