Why I'm Turning My Office into a Mermaid Grotto

Art by Erin Zerbe

Ok, so, fair critique- mermaids and fat femmes go together like salt and seawater. It is, perhaps, a bit cliche, therefore, that when my housemate was recommending I fix up the office, I decided what I really wanted to turn it into is a fanciful mermaid grotto. As a fat femme, it's pretty much on brand- a mystical, beautiful, seductive creature who sings men to their slow, drowning deaths. I mean, what's not to like?

It's more than just how trendy mermaids are, though. I mean, yes, I watched "The Little Mermaid" when I was a headstrong teenager who rebelled against my parents in the name of "but daddy I love him" nonsense. And of course Ursula, with her beautiful fat purple body, her butch hair, and her tentacles! "You can't get something for nothing, you know," she said, and it was an important lesson to learn. Always read the fine print. It was the first Disney movie I related to in any real way. But even that's not what drew me to them.

I think it's that when I'm in water I am weightless. As someone who often feels weighed down, the emotional labour of being seen as a "pillar of the community" or "famous" is like an anchor dragging me to the bottom of the sea. In the water, though, I float, I shimmy, I am graceful and light. I am the things I am told to be as a femme, and it is effortless. I feel powerful. As long as I'm in the water, I feel wild, free, beautiful.

1220b45ac7926048a460014261e8f1a2It is easy to love my body when it's not at odds with me. When my knees don't ache from years of undiagnosed injuries, where the only medical advice I could get was "lose weight". When the breasts that everyone else compliments and wants to motorboat don't make my lower back feel like I can't breathe when I lay down, because it's that tight. When the way my belly hangs isn't causing my skin to break out. In the water, nothing chafes, everything is slippery smooth.

At the same time, the mermaid life isn't one that comes easily to me the way it does for more slender women. Finding bodysuits and leggings in scale print that fit my ample thighs and ass is not easy to do. Seashell bikini tops? Don't make me laugh, putting those on my 36E sized boobs is just not gonna work out. And as much as I long for a custom silicone tail, I'm afraid that finding someone to make one for a fat mermaid like me is going to be next to impossible. I mean, shit, I get looks when I dare to wear a bikini!

As for something like diving, which I would love to do, it's often frowned upon for obese people like myself. I've noticed this of a lot of fun exercise activities - climbing, diving, circus arts, pole dancing, trampolining. While fat folks are told we need to exercise a lot, we're also often left out from doing many fun exercise activities, no matter how fit we are. We're stuck with running, treadmills, aerobics, etc, all things that put extra impact on our knees and ankles.

Lacking the access to being a mermaid outside of the house, I wanted to create an underwater sanctuary inside it. So I'm buying bits of mermaid art, photos of squids, diagrams of mermaid anatomy. I'm making plans for shelves to hang up all my fanciful wigs, like anemones on the wall. I haven't had an office that felt comfy to me before, but this one is sunny, and has a bed to lounge on. The cats tend to sleep next to me as I type. It feels cozy.

It's been a rough year, one that felt often devoid of magic. There's been a lot of times where I felt I sold my voice to follow my passion, times when I thought that maybe I would end up becoming seafoam. But I'm still swimming, and I'm starting to find pleasure in making the flat I live in a home I want to come back to. I may never get that silicone tail, but at least I'll have a grotto to rest my fins in.

Categories: best of, body stuff, diy, fake it til you make it, fat is fit, femme, identity, personal

Be the first to comment

Post a comment