April 30, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The past several years have seen an uptick in people who “identify” as members of the opposite sex, different ages, and even other species, and now apparently mythical creatures.
CNN recently published a profile on the global trend of “mermaiding,” through which one wears custom mermaid tails over his legs for gatherings, photography, swimming, and even conventions.
“I got this revelation that, oh my God, if I had so much fun swimming in a tail when I was 26, I'm sure that there are other people in Israel and girls and kids that would love it,” said Shir Katzenell, an Israeli sociology graduate and mother of two who began a “professional mermaid” business that hosts parties, photo shoots, and mermaid swimming classes.
“What [Associated Press photographer Oded Balilty] wanted to show is that we are very much normal people with normal lives,” she added. “We have kids, we have pets, we have hobbies, we have jobs and we also enjoy mermaiding. And that is a concept I love so much.”
“I chose to photograph them in their homes because the personal environment can tell us a lot about the person,” Balilty explained. “I thought that would be the best place. They meet more online, on Facebook and social media, than actually in the water, so it felt more natural.”
Mermaid tails alone are a world of their own, with some enthusiasts making their own out of Lycra or spandex while others spend potentially hundreds or thousands of dollars on neoprene or silicone tails.
This summer, California will see its fifth annual Mermaid Convention, featuring swim sessions, modeling workshops, speakers, scavenger hunts, photo shoots, and musical performances to “‘shell’ibrate everything mermaid.”
For some, there’s also an environmental angle. In 2016, the Daily Wire quoted Hannah Fraser as saying that mermaiding helps her create “images that show a connection and symbiotic relationship between humans and animals,” so “people can find they can approach the ocean in an entirely different way: without fear.”
But while many mermaiding enthusiasts see it as nothing more than a hobby, others speak of it using rhetoric similar to that of gender activists who believe that self-perception should trump one’s physical reality.
“It’s my thing, it’s unique, it’s who I am,” said Udi Frige, who compared his mermaiding to a homosexual or gender-confused person coming out of the closet. “It requires lots of difficult explanation, especially if people don’t know me.”
Yuval Avrami said “transgender” friends exposed him to the subculture, which fascinated him because it seemed to offer “the transition from one species to another, the ability to inhabit a new, magical identity.”
“I do feel like my tail is a part of me, and I do actually feel like it is a prosthetic limb,” mermaid enthusiast Caitlin Nielsen told the Daily Mail in 2017. “I sometimes joke that I wear a prosthetic because I was born with a terrible birth defect — which is legs[.] … Being a mermaid, I don’t feel that I’m hiding anything; I really do feel like I’m being the true me.”