Mermaid Spotlight: Mermaid Riia
Where are you from?
I'm from small northern country in Europe called Finland. The land of thousand lakes, snow and oh well Santa :)
How did you get your start?
By accident I guess haha! Nothing was planned and I more like rolled with it. I have always loved water, diving, swimming. Water is my happy place and I have always lived near it. So I stumbled on pictures of mermaid performers one day and thought what they did was absolutely amazing, magical. The causes they were fighting for, kiddos, underwater work, community, everything. I wanted to be part of that.
Starting wasn't easy. I was the first professional mermaid performer in Finland so resources and help was hard to find back in 2013. I used to rent this pool from local old folks home and go swimming there in my tail in all secrecy. After mermaiding for almost a year and having my one mermaid secret club I was brave enough to start thinking about doing this publicly. Shortly after that I was offered gigs and I saw a career possibility there.
What did your first tail look like?
My first tail was a ariel green MagicTail back in 2013. I was shy back then and tried to hide my mermaiding hobby from everyone. Later I sold that tail and was very close to giving up mermaiding in general. But I kept pushing. 2 years ago I bought the same colored tail from Magictail, just to have it as a memory of the early days or sort of "good luck charm". I still swim with it regularly.
What's your favorite thing to do on land?
My fav thing to do on land is actually running or hiking in nature. There's nothing better than a quiet forest and no rush or need to be anywhere. It's extremely relaxing.
What is your favorite spot to dive and do your mermaid thing?
I would have to say this spring based crystal clear lake in Finland called Valkiajärvi. Not a big one. It's cold, bit rugged but it has it's own kind of beauty and charm. The color of water is amazing and the perches are incredibly tame and curious fellows. It has lots of sunken tree trunks with huge branches aka lots of things to explore whether in mermaid or human form. It's a rare kind of lake in Finland since mostly our natural waters are murky.
What's your favorite underwater animal?
I don't know why I love crabs and shrimps so much. I have no explanation for that why I'm so fond of them. Also flying gurnard is a good runner up. One of the weirdest and most beautiful creatures I have met that totally scared me at the first time.
What's your favorite thing about being a mermaid?
Everything. Mermaiding has given me so much. It has taught me to love and appreciate myself and not to focus on my flaws but to my strengths. It has given me better and positive body image and I feel more complete as a person than ever. Also being able to once in a while inspire other people is one of the best parts of being a mermaid. This lady once told me she went back to school to pursue her dream career because she was inspired of what I do. If I wasn't being afraid of doing something so different (it's a small country guys) as performing as a mermaid, she could follow her dreams too. Bringing happiness in different forms, whether to an adult or a kid, is worth everything.
Is conservation important to you?
It is very important to me. I do volunteer work as a mermaid for different causes, usually local. I also do beach clean ups as a diver.