How to Be a Mermaid This Summer

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Swimming with my Fin Fun tail. Photo by Weeki Wachee’s Sirens of the Deep photogapher

It doesn’t matter why you want a tail, whether you have lingering childhood dreams of The Little Mermaid or just want a really good ab workout. Summer is arriving, and that means it’s mermaid season! To complete your transformation, you’re going to need a tail.

Generally, tails come in two parts, a monofin and the actual tail part.

Monofins come in an assortment of materials and shapes and at a variety of price points, so you can look around to find the right option for you. At the tail end (heh) of the price spectrum, you can simply insert a pair of flippers in your tail and hold your ankles together. If you like, you can even cut them to shape and tape them together. This once was the simplest option, as monofins used to be a little more challenging to find, but this summer, I’ve seen monofins in Target and sporting goods stores.

I use a Fin Fun monofin and like the way it swims. I’ve heard from other people that their plastic piece inside broke after a while, but mine has not yet. If you’re using your monofin every week or for exercise more than for fun, you may want to shop based on sturdiness.

Next, the actual tail! Again I’m a fan of Fin Fun for the price and the attractiveness. I have the red one I’m wearing in the top of this post. (They’re also 25% off this weekend with the code 25OFF.) They’re spandex, so they’re forgiving in fit, and you can have the whole tail and monofin combo for around $100.

If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can also make your own quite easily. There are plenty of tutorials online (here’s one), but you really don’t need one. Lie down on a piece of stretch fabric. Have a friend trace around your legs and the monofin. Cut and sew up the side seams. That’s about it! You can add an elastic waistband or use a belt. If it turns out you have too much stretch, you can take it in anywhere it’s too big.

I made this tail with barely stretchy Ultrapreme. The black fin all the way down the back is organza edged with Fray Check. Photo by Scott Suehle at Weeki Wachee.

Note that when it comes to fabric choices, stretchier is not necessarily better once you’re in the water! I made the one in the photo above from the Yaya Han Ultrapreme from JoAnn’s. It swims much better than my swimsuit Spandex one pictured below.

This is the first tail I made. It’s Thor-inspired, and there’s a tiny Mjolnir embroidered on the top. I love it, but I underestimated how much it would stretch when it gets wet! This is me hitching it up before I swim right out of it. Photo by Scott Suehle, somewhere in the Caribbean.

Once you’re committed to your new mermaid lifestyle, you can explore silicone tails. Be warned–they are not inexpensive. They are, however, stunningly beautiful. Browse through The Mertailor’s site or Fin Folk Productions to get an idea.

Again, you can make it yourself (here’s a tutorial). But it’s a good bit more complicated than tracing your legs, and it actually doesn’t bring the cost down as much as you might hope. However, if you’re experienced in molding and casting, you’re a step ahead on the technique.

Final note, regardless of what type of monofin or tail you choose: This is not for weak swimmers. Because of this, tails and monofins are sometimes banned in public pools and swimming areas. But even if you are not comfortable (or not allowed) in the water, your tail will also look beautiful lounging on the beach with a mermaid water cocktail in hand!

However, if you want the most fun ab workout you’ve ever had, swimming in a monofin is it! Here are some tips on technique. Also, the YouTube channel for FINIS (another monofin manufacturer) has quite a few videos on swimming with monofins and swimming in general.

Doing mermaid backflips is irresistible! Photo by Scott Suehle at Weeki Wachee.

I’ll see you on the sand–bring me one of those jars of mermaid water!

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