You might think that mermaids only exist in fantasy words and fairytales, but there’s a secret community of mer-folk growing in Seattle.
One member of the MerNetwork, Caitlin Nielson, is so committed that she gave up her job in 2015 to focus on being a mermaid full-time.
She explains, ‘I currently work out of my home in a little studio that I’ve set up in our spare room and make prosthetic quality silicone tails.’
‘When I was in kindergarten the teacher asked everyone to go round and say what they were going to be when they grew up – I said, ‘a mermaid’. Everyone laughed at me but now here I am, I’m a mermaid!’
‘I’ve always been a little bit of kind of an outsider, a loner and a little bit eccentric so discovering that there was a mermaid community and I could actually wear a mermaid tail and outwardly express what I always felt was inside was really freeing.’
Caitlin feels so comfortable in the water that she even considers her tail to be like a prosthetic limb.
‘I do feel like my tail is a part of me and I do actually feel like it is a prosthetic limb. I do sometimes joke that a wear a prosthetic because I was born with a terrible birth defect of legs.’
Caitlin certainly isn’t alone in her love of being a mermaid, as her friends Tessie La Mourea and Ed Brown also identify as part human, part fish.
Ed, whose mer-name is Mahtinnie considers being a mermaid more of a lifestyle than a hobby.
Ed explains, ‘it’s a bit of a lifestyle for me because I live on a boat, so I always like to be around the water.’
‘As a mer-person I’m not that different from the way I am on land but I feel like it’s a lot easier to talk to people. If I’m in street clothes and I’m out on the town I really don’t like it when people talk to me and I get really nervous. But when I’m in my tail it’s a lot easier to talk to people.’
‘No matter what happens, when I’m in the water with my tail on it’s just magic – I just automatically feel less like an awkward person swimming and more like a creature that belongs in the water.’
‘The best thing about being a mer-person, I think, is the chance to live out a dream or a fantasy and be someone other than who you are for a little while.’
Fellow mermaid Tessie couldn’t agree more, especially as she finds being a mermaid is a great way to battle her body insecurities.
Tessie says, ‘I have a lot of body insecurities – I think a lot of people do. But when I’m in my tail, I don’t feel insecure anymore because suddenly it doesn’t matter what size I am, because I’m a mermaid.’
‘I think a lot of people do get into it because putting on a tail is probably one of the greatest feelings in the world.’
‘When I take my tail off it almost feels like a piece of me has come off.’
‘When I put it on it’s like nothing else matters. I’m a mermaid and I can do whatever it is that I feel like doing.’
Whether you believe in mermaids or not – these three are certainly never happier than when they’re frolicking in the water, so we wish these mystical mer-folk the best of luck!