I had the soundtrack to The Little Mermaid on cassette tape and would play the tape in our basement for hours on end while I sang and danced to every song…even that weird “Fathoms Below” song the sailors sang at the beginning.
As I grew up I continued to love mermaids. I once photoshopped a picture of myself as a mermaid (picture left). I geeked out when I got to visit Weeki Wachee Springs in Florida when I was 5 years old, and then again in my twenties. I still wonder what it would be like to breathe underwater (top 5 coolest superpowers ever, am I right?) and swim with fish and dolphins like they were friends. To be fair to my husband, the house isn’t decorated with mermaids, but I’ve thought about buying things once or twice with mermaids on them. Especially now that I’m married to a sailor. How fated is that?
When I moved to Hawaii, I had the great pleasure of realizing one of my childhood fantasies: to meet a real live mermaid.
My friend Kariel (yes, that’s Ariel with a K- it’s really her name!) is a mermaid. She lives by the water and she has her very own beautiful tail. I couldn’t stop asking questions when I saw her tail airing out to dry one day on her lanai overlooking the water. I have been a little bit fascinated ever since.
I got the chance to sit down with Kariel and ask her some questions. The five year old me was squealing inside the whole time!
I decided to make a tail about 2 years ago when I moved. Hawaii is the perfect place to swim with a tail. I had always wanted a mermaid tail since I was about 4, I watched The Little Mermaid in the theater as a girl. I’ve been pretty much obsessed since then. Then I saw Splash! That was a great movie too.
I remember when computers were just getting popular and I would look online, trying to find who made that tail (from Splash) and how to get one. It was around $5,000 as I remember. Which seemed like millions in the 80’s. But that’s the moment I knew it was possible to make a tail that could swim in the water.
It’s just so magical, like Unicorns and the Pegasus, having the ability to have a super human quality. Its human nature to imagine the possibility of being more than we are. The ocean is just a completely different world. When I was younger I had to grow up fast and it was the idea of a new world or life that spoke to me.
When I first started looking up how to have one, I knew I could buy one online but I wasn’t ready to spend my savings to buy one, especially while I lived in a cold area.
So when I got to Hawaii I started thinking about it and thought, Well, I’m creative. I could just make one and it would be less expensive, more special and I definitely would appreciate it more. Well, it wasn’t exactly less expensive. And it didn’t take two days to make like I thought. But it was worth it!
About 400 hours over about a 5 month period. I sewed it and handpainted all the scales and detail on the tail. I’m working on a pink and gold tail now that’s almost finished too. I started that about 2 months ago. By the time I am finished, that one will probably have about 200 hours into it.
I’d love to travel with it and do shows. I would also really like to create my mermaid-inspired bikini line and for that to be successful. It would kind of be like allowing every girl to be a mermaid at heart. I’ve also written a children’s book. I’d like for most of the proceeds from the children’s book to go toward cancer research. In the end my final goal is to do something gigantic for mankind. Something that makes a great impact! I believe that is my purpose, so I'm using every talent I have, to start!
I illustrated it with pastel colored pencils. It’s about mermaids, and it’s a self esteem book for kids. I actually got to test it in a classroom setting and they really grasped the moral of the story, which just made me so happy. They really understood what self esteem was and how they can affect someone else’s self esteem.
My grandma was dying of Leiomyosarcoma cancer (that cancer isn't even in my new computer's dictionary!), and I was in the waiting room and I always drew these pictures. I thought, you know, instead of just drawing random pictures, why not just create something? I needed something to show for it. I wanted to put everything together and really make something, a book. Some way to help. I felt kind of helpless throughout her experience. I wish I could have done something big to make a difference while she was still alive, to make things easier on her. I promised myself I would do it, finish, sell it and donate the proceeds to finding help and knowledge.
I would tell them to go for it. Lots of kids email me from my website and from my Youtube channel, and they’ll say, I wish I could do it but my parents or somebody will laugh at me. It just goes back to self esteem- if you have a dream, I say go for it. Even my husband laughed at me for years. But then I had this idea and actually went through and created it. And he is really impressed now. So many people laughed about it and thought I was silly for spending all this time making this tail, but now that it’s finished people are amazed.
Whenever I go under water for pictures I don’t wear a mask. It’s always a little bit scary because I can’t really see. You don’t really know what’s out there. This one time I swam with another mermaid friend so both of us were blind swimming out there and we just saw this big grey thing go by. We were like, “Did you see that? Did you see that? Was it a shark?!” We never found out. That was a bit scary. Yes I am a good swimmer now, before I was only capable of doggy paddling believe it or not. but when you have a dream you must go for it and I wanted to be a mermaid!
I still really want to swim with dolphins some more. I’d love to get closer to them! I believe I have a friend- it's a Spotted Eagle Ray. He came and found me multiple occasions and we have swam side by side. That is the neatest experience I have had yet. I can't wait to go to that spot again and see if he joins me. I think the sea creatures are curious about me. Some fish even follow me and I swear I get looks as if they are saying, "Who are you?"
There are big things are happening soon. I’m really excited! The swimsuit line is coming together. And so much more! Either way, you’ll see me swimming around.
You can keep up to date on all of Kariel's mermaid happenings by “Liking” her on Facebook and following her on Twitter. You can also visit her website at www.MermaidKariel.com.
My little girl self is still squealing. :)