10 Steps to Becoming a Modern Mermaid
THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS tells the story of two teens who fall in love despite a rivalry between their two families of mermaid performers and tightrope walkers. Inspired by her research when writing, debut author Anna-Marie McLemore decided to become a mermaid herself. Follow her 10 steps and become a beautiful modern-day mermaid, too.
Start with a dream.
Part of the inspiration for my debut novel THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS came from my father telling me about an underwater show he once saw in Florida. I’ve wanted to be a mermaid since I first learned what they were, and ever since I realized I wouldn’t be growing fins anytime soon, I’ve thought of making one. (Photo courtesy of Weeki Wachee Springs)
Realize that very few of us fit the type we think we’re supposed to be.
Instead of willowy and fair-haired like the fantastical creatures often depicted in storybooks, I’m under five feet, curvy, and Latina. That might’ve stood in my way, but I’ve had willowy, fair-haired friends who felt like they didn’t quite fit either. So forget what mermaids, fairies, and any other kind of magic is supposed to look like. It’s us.
Draw inspiration from classic sirens.
The photos from the Weeki Wachee State Park (http://www.weekiwachee.com/) archives inspired me to try making a fabric tail, the kind most often seen in vintage photographs. (Photo courtesy of Weeki Wachee Springs)
Draw inspiration from your heritage or family history.
I decided on my tail color as a nod to La Sirena, a Lotería card that depicts a dark-haired mermaid with a red fin.
Ask for help!
If your mother made your Halloween costumes growing up, like mine did, ask if she’ll help. Once I’d made the pattern and cut the fabric, mi madre brought out her sewing machine to make sure my tail would hold together for hours of swimming. Thanks, Mom!
Add a little extra color.
In the spirit of love for creatures of both land and sea, I use cruelty-free make-up. I also find it tends to stay on better and doesn’t hurt my eyes when I come up from the water.
Speaking of cruelty-free cosmetics, don’t forget nail polish.
Whether I’m in my tail or my jeans, I love looking down at my hands and seeing a little shimmer. Because of the silver polish I wore in high school, one of my friend’s little brothers was convinced I was some kind of sea creature.
How do you learn to swim in a mermaid tail? The same way you to get to Carnegie Hall. (For those who didn’t have grandparents who loved to tell that joke: “Practice, practice, practice.”)
Discover your mermaid personality.
My favorite mermaid performer, Siren Nasreen (https://www.facebook.com/SirenNasreen), is a self-described chatterbox who speaks her own dialect of mermish.
Love your body, on land and underwater.
Your body is beautiful, and it’s yours, and whatever you put on—a mermaid tail, fairy wings, or anything else—don’t forget it.