{Guest Post} "Mermaids: Swimming from Fiction to Real Life" with guest poster W.Memes

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W. Memes would love to hear everyone else's thoughts on mermaids and the crazy awesome things people come up with such as swimming academies!
She previously visited A Backwards Story during Fairy Tale Fortnight 2014 to talk about Snow White and Rose Red: My Memories of the Faerie Tale.
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Mermaids: Swimming from 

Fiction to Real Life

by W. Memes

When I was young, my family would regale me with stories of second-hand accounts of encounters with creatures of folklore; mermaids would indeed be among them.   But what did they look like?  My parents would tell me they were women so unbelievably beautiful that any man who saw them would act as if they were possessed and only think of them.  During the night, the men would stay by the ocean-side waiting for the mermaids to surface, enticed to simply wait for their melodic voices to carry through the crashing waves. Some men were foolish enough to venture into the water and eventually drown. Sounds a bit scary, right?

In contrast, over twenty years ago, Disney's animated film The Little Mermaid hit theaters and a follow-up prequel television series aired from 1992-94.  After watching The Little Mermaid, I was confused. Ariel was cute and definitely not out to steal Eric's soul.  That was Ursula's job and she definitely was not mermaid-like in her appearance. What was going on here?

Thankfully, the Disney movie and TV series were not my only exposure to this puzzling creature.  Following Disney, I saw the movie Splash. Again, the mermaid in this series was not as menacing or as haunting as I was lead to believe.  Maybe they weren't all evil?

My fascination with mermaids waned over the years; lack of exposure to new shows or reading material, perhaps?  By 2006, an Australian television series called H2O: Just Add Water aired.  It was not until a number of years later that I found this coming of age series in my Netflix queue.  The characters were not mermaids from birth, but were humans transformed into them.  Most stories I read had mermaids transforming into humans.  Interesting take!

Once again, my fervor for merfolk and sea creatures was renewed!

Although I've seen mermaids and other mythical sea creatures in various media over the years, they still hold a fair bit of a mystery to me.  Most stories I encountered portrayed them as beautiful beings, with long flowing hair, a long tail with scales like a fish, and (usually with) voices that could entrance those around them.  And still, there were stories of terrifying creatures who were more fish-like than human and could devour a person whole or stab them to death with razor-like claws.

And yet I have to wonder, what would real-life mermaids look like?  How would they act---good or evil?  Would they wear clamshell bras a la Disney's The Little Mermaid, scale-bras a la H2O: Just Add Water, or would they be bra-free?  Would they have powers?  


The following video was a college project posted to youtube by user SwtHrtBallerina: 

Serves as a nice summary for a number of mermaid/mermaid-like creatures throughout the globe.

Mermaid wiki page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mermaid
Mermaid types: http://seamagick.net/mermaids/mermaid-myths

Real Life Imitating... Folkore?

H2O: Just Add Water


The tale in the tails: How a mermaid tail is made for the show and training with the tails.

Mermaid Melissa

 A young woman who tries to bring the message of ocean conservation education to people by becoming a mermaid.  During the interview in the video she mentions the tail (at least her own) can be up to 60 pounds! If the tails are similar in weight no wonder the actresses from H2O needed extra training with the tails on!

Starbucks and the Double-Tailed Siren

The history of the Starbucks Siren: http://www.starbucks.com/blog/so-who-is-the-siren

Mermaid Swimming Academy

No, I'm not referring to a title of a new book!  A number of articles both last year and this summer featured a Mermaid Swimming Academy based in Philippines.  What started out as a fitness idea blended with the desire to teach others how to swim turned into the Mermaid Swimming Academy.

Although they won't teach you how to sing men to their doom on the rocks, they do allow you to experience swimming mermaid-style.  Thankfully, it doesn't look like these tails are as heavy as those shown in the videos above.

Mermaid Swimming Academy's website:

Other Honorable Mentions of Fictional Mermaids:
  • Mermaids from Peter Pan (American animated film, 1953)
  • Faerie Tale Theatre: The Little Mermaid (American mini series episode, 1987)
  • Mermaids from Hook (American live-action film, 1991) 
  • Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch (Japanese anime, 2003)
  • Evyione (Korean manhwa, 2007)
  • Mako: Island of Secrets (spin-off of H2O: Just Add Water, 2013) 
Questions to YOU, the Reader:
  • What is your favorite mermaid/mermaid-like creature?
  • Do you have a favorite mermaid tale?
  • What do you guys think of this swimming academy?