Do you long to be a lady in the water? Do you measure coconuts by the cup size? Do you believe you’ve had a bevy of brushes with crabs?
If so, you may be bound to become a Little Mermaid. Or a big one.
And you can.
As reported by The Associated Press, “mermaiding” subculture is making a monstrous splash.
The outlet profiles Queen Pangke Tabora, who’s made the transition to life under the sea. In 2019, the former insurance company employee put on a pair of fins and was hooked.
[I]t marked the beginning of her immersion into a watery world where she would find acceptance.
It’s a pressure-free province — so long as you don’t overly descend and implode your skull.
[Queen Pangke describes] the experience of gliding under water, half-human and half-fish, as “meditation in motion.” … “The world outside is really noisy, and you will find peace under water.”
It’s not the first time the aquatic creature has transformed:
For the transgender Filipina woman approaching middle age, seeing her legs encased in vibrant scaly-looking neoprene…was the realization of a childhood dream.
Portrait of life on the rocks:
“The feeling was mermai-zing,” [Queen Pangke] said one recent morning while lounging in a fiery red tail on a rocky beach south of Manila, where she now teaches mermaiding and freediving full-time.
Mermaiding emits a siren song of seduction:
Across the world, there are thousands more merfolk like her — at its simplest, humans of all shapes, genders and backgrounds who enjoy dressing up as mermaids. In recent years, a growing number have gleefully flocked to mermaid conventions and competitions, formed local groups called “pods,” launched mermaid magazines and poured their savings into a multimillion-dollar mermaid tail industry.
Despite such colossal commerce, the initial cost of conversion has come down:
When mermaiding first started to catch on, most tails for sale were custom-made silicone creations that weigh up to 23 kilograms (50 pounds), cost upwards of $6,000 and take a surprising amount of time and lubricant to wrestle into. But over the past few years, the increasing availability of cheaper, lighter fabric options — some of which sell for less than $100 — has transformed the mermaiding community from an exclusive enclave for privileged professionals into an achievable dream for the wider public.
There’s particular appeal for those who think cisgenderism is all wet:
It is…inspiring to (transgender) merfolk like Che Monique, the Washington, D.C.-based founder of the Society of Fat Mermaids, which promotes body-positive mermaiding.
“I’m a 300-pound Black mermaid in America over 35, and hopefully that tells somebody they can do whatever they want to do,” says Monique, whose group sells shirts that read ‘Fat mermaids make waves’ and ‘Gender is fluid under the sea.’
In other animal areas, transspeciesism is trending, too. For some, a barn beats a bay any day:
But for those who can’t definned defecating in a field, a bream-like back-end suits them fine.
Speaking of things below, could the community be up to its gills in kink? For those who know how guppies are made, surely spawning isn’t out of the question. Yet for many, it’s about identity — pre-mermaiding, life was a fish-out-of-water story:
Mermaid Nymphia grew up as a male-presenting child of the 1990s, and gender norms dashed her dream of dressing up as her idol, Ariel. Years later, as an adult transgender woman, her dream was finally realized when her mother helped her sew her first mermaid costume.
“With transgender and nonbinary merfolk, they often connect with that mentality where you’re not quite sure which world you belong in, but you’re able to be this alluring creature of the sea and live as your most authentic self,” Nymphia says. “I know a lot of people who have found their gender identity, myself included, through mermaiding.”
So if you ache to be a queen or a nymph, an ocean of possibilities awaits. You can become a reefer, or at least slither through the depths as if you’ve smoked some.
Perhaps it’s time to evolve…
“As transgender, it’s a transition,” [Queen Pangke] says. “It’s like in the sea, everything evolves.”
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