So Mermaid Marla is another completely inspirational mermaid who likes to swim with sea creatures, brings magic to the lives of land-locked humans everywhere, and is apparently and obnoxiously immune to all effects of aging. She CLAIMS to be 50, which obviously translates to about 19 in mermaid years. I first met Marla at MerCon, where she glimmered and undulated alongside many of the other mermaids I’ve interviewed for this illuminating blog. I have been meaning to talk to her for a while, not only for your mermaid knowledge but so that I can steal all of her secrets and possibly sell them and become a zillionaire.
In the mean time… here is our gorgeous Q and A.
So how did you discover mermaiding?
I actually discovered what we now call mermaiding quite by accident! As a scuba diver I was having problems with my legs cramping from time to time. Someone had mentioned to me that freedivers used a special fin called a monofin, which could help strengthen my legs to lessen the cramps. As I started researching freedivers I absolutely fell in love with their ability to hold their breath and stay under the water without scuba tanks. While I was searching for different types of monofins I came upon a website that mentioned mermaids and monofins. Of course that piqued my interest and I was utterly amazed to find out that there were people making mermaid tails using monofins and had been doing so for years! It made perfect sense to me and I couldn’t believe I had never heard about nor seen them before.
Have you always identified as a mermaid, even if you didn’t always wear an actual mermaid tail?
I have always had a connection to the ocean, having lived next to it most of my life, but had never identified myself as a mermaid. I remember always wishing I could fall into the water and turn into a mermaid like in that movie “The Incredible Mr. Limpet,” who turned into a fish. I did think it strange that the two times I lived far away from the ocean in Montana and Colorado, I felt out-of-sorts, and had an almost suffocated feeling… Now I understand why. After becoming scuba certified everything fell into place and I knew I was supposed to be near the ocean. When I’m under the water it is the only place where I feel completely at home and stress-free, so of course I must have always been a mermaid!
Why are mermaids so appealing to you?
The lure and mystery that surrounds them is so enticing, but it’s not only that. They represent the guardians of the ocean to me. Mermaids have an appeal to everyone young and old across the globe. When you stop to think about it, how many other things are globally appealing and accepted? I think that is one of the things that I love most about mermaiding. Mermaids bring people together and put smiles on their faces no matter where they are from or what language they speak!
Do you feel different as your mermaid self?
I definitely feel different when I am mermaid! I feel more beautiful, better able to express myself, and have a general peaceful feeling. I never did role-playing when I was younger as I had a lot of responsibilities and grew up a little fast, so this is a whole new feeling for me. The most amazing difference is the ease it gives me to communicate with children. I have always been a little awkward around children, not really knowing how to talk with them since I don’t have any of my own. When I am my mermaid self, the walls come down and the curiosity of the children helps me to interact with them on a very innocent and magical level.
You became a scuba diver before you became a mermaid. Can you compare these different ways of experiencing the ocean?
They are very different and both amazing in their own ways. Scuba diving opened up the sea to me and made my dreams come true. Being able to stay under water for an hour at a time is just heaven for me. The one and only downside to scuba diving is all the equipment needed to make this happen. Although you achieve a weightlessness in the ocean, it is still a bit cumbersome with a tank, regulator and hoses attached to you. With mermaiding it’s a totally liberating feeling but is limited to one’s ability to breathhold. I haven’t practiced enough to be able to stay under very long, but just being able to move freely, with the motion you create with a monofin/tail, is intoxicating. Of course our eyes aren’t able to see as well underwater, but with a little practice you would be surprised how easy it is to recognize fish and objects once you’re used to it. Salt water is very natural to our eyes so I much prefer swimming in the ocean compared to pools whenever possible.
Can you talk about some of the other mermaids and mermen you’ve met? How involved have you been in the mermaid community?
How do people react to your mermaidliness, generally?
As a whole, I get very positive reactions. There are a few who don’t get it, especially because of my age, but those people are usually ones who don’t normally appreciate anything out of the norm. I don’t worry too much about any negative responses because I understand it’s hard to grasp for a select few. I think some fear we are all part of some sort of cult or they see it as simply cos-play, which I love as well, but for me mermaiding is so much more. If I really analyzed it I guess it would seem quite odd for a grown woman to dress up in a mermaid tail, especially one without children, but I see it as therapeutic and as a form of self-expression. When I see the smiles on children’s faces, as well as on the faces of people young and old alike, I know it’s something I was meant to be and gives me such an inner joy.
Can you tell me about any particularly special moments in your mermaid life?
There really are so many special moments for me. I’ve had children come up to me without saying a word and just give me a hug, which is pretty overwhelming to me. I’ve had parents thank me and tell me that their child rarely speaks to anyone, right as that child is asking me a slew of mermaid questions! I receive messages on my Facebook fan page from young girls who say they are inspired by me, and that is such a wonderful feeling. The special friendships I have found within the mermaid community and the bond we all have that can’t be explained with my non-mer friends. Becoming a mermaid has really opened up so many avenues for me personally and I am so thankful I finally realized my mermaidness.
You’re approaching 50, aren’t you? I would never have been able to guess that! Do you feel that the ocean/mermaiding has anything to do with your youthfulness?
Actually I just turned 50 last June and thank you so much for that compliment! While I can’t say that mermaiding is the cause of my youthfulness, I can honestly say that becoming a mermaid so late in life has re-energized my entire being. I look at everything in a different light now and finally feel at one with myself. Of course there are times when I think, “What am I doing putting on a tail at the age of 50?” but that quickly goes away when I look at my photos with so many people I’ve brought happiness to. That’s really what it’s all about….your happiness and the happiness of others around you!
Do you have any advice for aspiring mermaids?
Well for one thing, there isn’t any right or wrong way to become a mermaid. Mermaids come in all shapes, sizes, and races and the sky’s the limit when you create your own personal tail. When you’re ready to purchase a tail you will find there are many tailmakers out there, so just do your research and figure out which one will be a good match for you. I would also suggest practicing swimming with either regular fins or purchase an inexpensive monofin to get the feel of swimming with your legs together. But remember, being a mermaid doesn’t mean you have to be able to swim. Being a mermaid can be as simple as having a love of the ocean and all things that live in it! I have been a mermaid all my life but didn’t realize it until I was in my 40’s… Donning a tail is a wonderful way to express our physical form, but the true mermaid magic lies within our hearts!
Any last words?
I would like to thank you, Carolyn, for your wonderful interviews, articles, blogs and of course amazing books that allow the mermaid community to be shown in a tasteful and beautiful light. I feel very honored to have a spot on your page and thank you for the opportunity to tell a little more of my mermaid journey and let people know that it’s okay to be yourself, even if it’s a mermaid!