You read that right. Not tale as in story. Tail as in appendage.

There is a whole world of merfolk out there. Whether it’s just for fun and exercise like me or professional models and characters for hire, merpods across the world exist for the sheer delight of swimming in a mermaid tail.

Dedicated professional merfolk train tirelessly, learning to free dive and pose underwater and performing at aquariums, bars, and birthdays.

Elaborate mersonas—alternate mer identities—are created by performers, some with delightful stories behind them. They create costumes for land and sea to fit their mersonas and share content on social media. There are professional firms you can contact to rent a mermaid for your events or photoshoots. They are a community where difference is celebrated (by most) and the joy of water is shared by all.

Mermaid tails can be swimmable or non-swimmable (just costumes for land/photos). Swimmable tails come in all shapes and sizes made from fabrics or body-safe silicone. Tail makers and designers span across the globe.

Inside a mermaid tail is a monofin, a single dive fin both feet fit into. My favourites to use are the Mahina (for speed) and the Luna (for comfort).

As I said before, I use a mermaid tail for the fun and exercise.

My tails are a scuba knit fabric, light and buttery-soft, custom tailored and custom made by Aquarius Mermaid. They sit at my high natural waist and cover my round belly. Underneath I wear any combination of swimsuit, shorts, and leggings (from tail maker Finfolk Productions).

When I get that tail on, with the assistance of my merhandler husband, I feel a freedom I don’t have on land. I am able to move and float more easily in the water, and let’s be real for a minute here. The tails are gorgeous. I feel darn pretty.

To help me maneuver in the water, I have silicone finger webbings or webbed dive gloves. They really do make a huge difference. I can move faster with less effort in the tail and gloves.

To get into the water, I use a yoga mat and my husband rolls my manatee-like graceless self into the pool. I then flop around trying to do a dolphin swim and be a pretty mermaid, looking more like a graceless sea cow (no offense to the graceful actual sea cows out there). I don’t care what people think of me because for the few minutes I can manage to swim, I am joyous and free of my disability and chronic pain.

Merhandler husband dutifully follows me, carefully attending to my needs and when symptoms of tremors, weakness, and neurological disfunction hit me, he’s there to help me out. I’m better for the swim, combatting the muscle decline common with my condition.

It’s those precious few moments of freedom that inspire me. My inner child’s rejoicing at the experience, the sound of the water, and the sensation of floating all lend to the sense of limitless possibilities. It’s that freedom that inspires my mermaid WIP.