This article from Entertainment Weekly a few months ago had many interesting pieces in it for a relatively short article. But today I wanted to focus on the "mermaiding" aspect of it. From 2011: The year mermaids swim into movies, books, fashion, and maybe your local swimming pool by Stephan Lee:
Mermaid obsession definitely isn’t confined to the realm of fiction. While in mythology, mermaids are often portrayed as lonely, somewhat barbaric creatures, people incorporate the fantasy into their real lives because it makes them happy. You might have seen some “real-life” mermaids in The Simple Life 2, when Paris and Nicole visited Weeki Wachee Springs in Florida, where swimming, be-tailed merpeople put on a choreographed show in a giant tank. But “mermaiding” without an audience is a growing pastime and yes, a booming niche business. Hannah Fraser, a pioneering “professional mermaid,” loves the freedom she feels when she puts on her tail and does deep-sea dives alongside Great White sharks. One man in Pittsburgh’s need to mermaid (or merman?) is so great that he takes it to public pools, despite the stares he inevitably gets. There’s even an awards ceremony dedicated to the mythical creature: The first annual World Mermaid Awards — which will also act as a convention — will convene this August in a giant pool at the Mirage in Las Vegas.Caroline Turgeon, author of Mermaid (a novel retelling of Andersen's Little Mermaid), has a blog--I Am a Mermaid--that is mentioned in the article and which I visited a few times while researching for Mermaid and Other Water Spirit Tales From Around the World. She discusses mermaids in many ways, but the primary focus overall has been on mermaiding--the folks who take on mermaid personas for personal and/or career choices. This is a fascinating culture of folks who love mermaids. In my research I didn't discover as nearly as much fascination with any other kind of water spirit other than perhaps sirens.