HOW DID I GET HERE? - The Back Story
If you told me all those years ago while I was in student teaching working toward my teaching degree, I’d have never believed you if you said I would open a mermaid school. I always envisioned myself as an elementary school teacher with a very linear path. I didn’t think that my classroom would end up being the local pool.
In the first years of my mer-career I worked part time while pursuing my two degrees and other employment. In those days mermaid schools didn’t really exist, but a company in Canada run by a woman and her Olympian husband would travel down to southern places and run seasonal tourism workshops. As mermaiding became more assessable, the Philippian Mermaid School opened to much criticism in the mermaid world. Nobody really understood at first how something like that could ‘work’, be sustainable, or be assessed. The joke was on us, because the school went on to be very successful.
Authors note: While people from all demographics enjoy mer-swimming and are represented in this article as well, I wanted to focus a bit on how this is a feminist issue and can negatively affect girls who experience the bans. Bans are bad for everyone, but add to a growing list of limitations placed on young girls.
If you’ve been watching the news in 2015 and 2016, you’ll see that mermaid performers, companies, and tails have been popping up more than they ever have in the 100 year history of the community.
Media pieces went from sensationalism toward something they saw as “fringe”, to interest and inspiration, to fears over drowning and exaggerating and misrepresentation.
I am here to set the record straight, backed up with facts and citations, on the use of mermaid tails and why I think the media and many pools are embracing the wrong mindset.
Free diving and breath holding often go hand and fin with the work mermaids do. Even if mers aren’t getting to do glamorous photos and video shoots in the open ocean, the basic safety skills for holding your breath and being underwater apply to everything we do.
Free diving – for those who don’t know- is a form of underwater swimming or diving that relies on the swimmers ability to hold their breath until they come up to the surface, rather than relying on a snorkel or scuba gear. It is done as a sport, recreationally, or even used as a tool for underwater fishing/scavenging. Aspects of free diving are also used for synchronized swimming.
The Halifax Mermaid
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