Sometimes it’s refreshing and vital to remember that our bodies have other roles. (Photo courtesy of the author.)
My BFF, Emma, and I live to try unusual activities. We like novelty and anything a little unexpected. We met paddling on the same dragon boat team and bonded over our ability to make almost anything giggle-worthy and silly. We happen to live in a very cool city, Ottawa, the capital of Canada, and whether it’s a new dance class, archery, ax throwing, or trampolining, it’s likely one of us has given it a go.
So when we heard that mermaid classes were coming to our local pool, we knew we had to try it out.
Aqua Mermaid classes operate in seven North American cities and provide everything you need to shed your human legs and become one with the water.
It was on a chilly March evening when we set out together on a new adventure. We arrived at the pool just in time to see a flock of young teenage girls gracefully swimming through the water, flipping their mermaid tails and looking very Ariel-esque. Oh yes, we thought this is very 'us.'
The first stage of mermaid school was to get into your tail. This was harder than it sounded and was the point at which I felt some anxiety bubbling away in my tummy, wondering if I had made a big mistake.
Donning the outfit involved sitting on the cold poolside, wiggling my feet into a pair of flippers, and then lying flat on my back, while precariously stretching the fabric up over my legs. As if this wasn’t enough of a spectacle, I then had to lift my bum up and stuff everything into the skin-tight material. We took one look at each other and burst into giggles. Luckily the pool was closed to any other swimmers, and as everyone else was also doing the mermaid wiggle, we didn’t feel too self-conscious.
The next stage involved getting into the water. This was accomplished by sort of flinging yourself off the edge. I felt like an anxious baby seal, waiting for the OK from its mom.
But all of this awkward preamble led to an immense feeling of freedom and sensuality once my new body hit the surface of the water.
As I started to tentatively move my hips to the teacher's instructions, feeling the flip and swish of my tail against the bobbing current, I realized I felt quite magical. It was like being transported into a different body; every movement caused a different reaction than it would have in my human form.
We learned a few different moves from our instructor, each intended to make us feel more comfortable in our tails and dispelling the prevailing sense that we were going to sink.
Top tip: do not attempt to pose for a picture by putting your arms on your friend's shoulders, you will both drown!
Emma liked a particular trick where we had to imitate the dives of dolphins by going underneath the water and back to the surface multiple times. This made water go up my nose and led to a coughing fit (which really took me out of my mermaid fantasy). I preferred swimming laps quickly on my back by flicking my tail as fast as I could.
The fun factor was amped up by the fact that the required motion needed to move through the water is a thrusting of the hips. Emma and I in our best Austin Powers voice referred to it as “making love to the water, baby!”
The tails are so pretty and matched my bathing suit perfectly, and the overall look is fluid and curvy. Tails seem to celebrate all figures, and we felt quite pretty.
I really liked the fact that the deep water gave me some privacy, it hid me until I was ready to show off my skills. This helped me to lose my inhibitions and try out different moves that I wouldn't have felt comfortable doing on land. Especially when I went right under the water, it was like being in my own private bubble. Sounds were muffled; all I could see was my own shimmery tail in the pool spotlights. I enjoyed stroking my silky tail which conveniently hid my hairy legs from the world.
Hmm, perhaps a mermaid tail is the perfect alternative to shaving?
Being a mom means we often view our bodies as utilitarian. They have a job to do. They grow and nurture life. They bring it forward into the world. They sway new arrivals and provide sustenance from which they grow.
Sometimes it’s refreshing and vital to remember that our bodies have other roles.
That it can dance and stretch. That it can carry you from place to place. That it is the only home you have always owned. That it is your vehicle for whatever you choose to do and wherever you choose to go.
And sometimes, on special occasions, it can help to propel you through the water like the beautiful mermaid that you are.