Mermaid Spotlight: Mermaid Athiraa
How did you get your start?
The movie The Little Mermaid came out in 1989, the very same year I was born. I already had a strong love for water, both fresh and salt, and ever since a trip to Disneyland Paris when I was 4 years old mermaids have permeated my entire childhood. I drew mermaids in all shapes and sizes, even cats and dogs with tails, and my preschool teacher used to call me her mermaid. It is funny how Ariel, a mermaid, who longed so much for legs and becoming human, inspired so many girls to wish for a tail. These associations continued as I grew up – I was the mermaid in school, at work and when I cuddle up for a movie in the sofa I always wrap my legs in the mermaid blanket. The collection of mermaid items; movies, books, paintings, jewellery, figurines and even stories and myths, is growing and growing and every time I visit a new country I try and find a mermaid souvenir typical to their culture, such as Sovann Maccha from Cambodia or Syrenka from Poland. In 2012 I made my dream came true and bought my first mermaid tail for a mermaid photoshoot with a friend of mine.
What did your first tail look like?
My very first tail, from the 2012 photoshoot, was light blue and not very swimmable. It did the trick for the shoot though, but slightly after I bought a swimmable one with a nice monofin from the2tails, it was a dark blue and looked dark and mysterious underwater. I spent many years with this tail, at children’s parties and swimming in waterfalls, until I decided to change to a lighter blue sparkly skin. Since then I have tried various mermaid tails for reviewing and photoshoots, and my current one is a bedazzled, dark blue tail from Magictail with a mahina inside, sponsored to me as Miss Mermaid Sweden.
What’s your favorite thing to do on land?
I have always loved to paint, draw and write… especially fairy-tale creatures such as mermaids and I’ve always had a thing for doodling eyes in my notebooks, because they’re so soulful. In everyday life I’m a teacher in Swedish and English, but I love to read, swim and spend time in nature and with friends and family.
What is your favorite spot to dive and do your mermaid thing?
Sweden is a cold country so most of the swimming and mermaiding takes place in my local swimming pool, where everyone is very encouraging and nice to me – and many families come to see me swim here and to meet & greet the mermaid. The summers in Sweden can be lovely, and then I go to the sea or lakes to swim in the cool water. My absolute favourite was when I participated in Miss Mermaid International where I represented Sweden, we got the opportunity to swim in the warm, salty Red sea amongst the fish and over the gorgeous coral landscape. Never before have I dived for as long and as deep as in Egypt, it unlocked even more of my inner mermaid strength.
What’s your favorite underwater animal?
That would be the dolphins; they are such clever, beautiful animals. Did you know that they need to get air every 15 min? Which means that when they sleep, they only sleep with one half of the brain at the time? I swam with dolphins in the wild when I was in Madeira, visiting a friend, and it was an amazing experience. I think you should respect nature and observe the animals in their true habitat, rather in captivity.
What’s your favorite thing about being a mermaid?
The freedom. When I submerge underwater in my tail I am faster, stronger, braver, beautiful… I become the dream I want to be, I dare. It is a different world under the surface, of silence, peace and beauty when the rays of sunshine play over the sunbed. Time stops, and you feel safe immersed in Mother Ocean’s arms. That feeling is the best part.
I also love spreading joy and magic, the look on their face when I meet kids for the first time and they tell their parents they have met a real life mermaid, that is just precious. I want to use my passion for mermaids and the sea to make good.
Is conservation important to you?
Ocean conservation is very important to me, I spent 3 months in Cambodia as a volunteer teacher and for my final time during my stay I went to an island to help out with the diving project; I got my scuba diving certificate and then I helped out with the seahorses, to help protect them from illegal fishing. Today I support WWF and I have several projects to help support the oceans.
How can we (your mermaid friends) help the ocean, our home?
There are various things we can do to help the ocean, whereas using less plastic is nr 1, by for example bringing your own bags when you shop or your own cup of coffee. In 50 years they say the ocean will contain more plastic than fish, which is just a horrible thought! it is becoming a reality, and we need to act. The plastic is already turning into microscopic pieces, which the fish eat. You should also try and avoid red-listed fish for dinner, fish that is either fished illegally or is almost outfished completely. But there's always hope, and we need to work together.
Find her on IG @MERMAID_ATHIRAA