“I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. I do not think they will sing to me.”
– T.S. Eliot
Most girls have an arsenal of Halloween ideas they fall back on – you know, the ones loved since childhood? A favorite princess or heroine, perhaps something classic like a witch or black cat. Or perhaps, a mermaid.
The tales of Mermaids and Sirens have been around as long as ships have sailed the oceans. It may be one of the most classic costume choices, no matter your age. Of course, there are quite a few versions of those stories, all describing the scaled creatures of the sea in different ways.
Most stories I’ve heard describe mermaids as beautiful and enchanting, but deadly to those who hear their song. Having never been a mermaid before, I decided Halloween was a perfect excuse to attempt it!
I learned something during my shoot for this costume that gave me a closer connection to these legends. The lesson being: Mermaids were entirely justified in ripping sailors from their ships and dragging them to the depths to await a slow and painful death (kidding!…sort of…).
Let’s put it this way, with my experience as a mermaid, I’d completely understand her reaction if she was “catcalled” (…fishcalled?…) rudely by a chauvinist, vulgar-mouthed sailor, who circled her in his ship creating enormous waves that crashed around her, forcing her to flee (when all she wanted was to sit in the sun) or wait until the waves die down to avenge her pride as a lady, and rid the foul human creatures…
I get it. It’s not her fault that she gets named a sweet-faced killer -she was merely provoked one too many times.
“She swore vengeance on all men with dark hearts.” – Lisa Papademetriou
Needless to say, while I did not have a ship with sailors on it harassing me, I did have an uncomfortable start to my shoot when a boater came by shouting to his buddy “DUDE! IS THAT A TOPLESS CHICK?!”, after seeing only my BACK (these hair extensions are awesome by the way and easily reach my waist). They then circled, getting closer to us each time. Not only was this an invasion of our space when we were in a small cove (with no one around-hence the reason went there) and had nowhere else to go, but it almost swamped the small paddle-boat we came out on containing all our combined camera equipment.
It’s one thing to be curious when something is happening that you don’t see every day. But it’s another to (rudely) interrupt strangers when you can admire from afar without disturbing anyone. Even though we had a rough start, and it did shake me up a bit, we still continued our shoot, and I was able to have my moment as a mermaid once everyone had left.
Becoming a Mermaid
To create my sea-worthy accessories, I found a bag of shells at the dollar store (if I lived closer to the ocean I would have just picked some off the beach) and some seaweed-looking plants from the craft store to create both a necklace and crown for myself.
As I mentioned before, I bought some fun extensions to give myself mermaid hair. They would have matched my hair color better if I used them when my hair was newly dyed. Regardless, behold mermaid hair! This also gave me a chance to break out my wonderful green contacts again, which look amazing when combined with the red hair.
As for makeup, I used fishnet tights to create a pattern with some white/blue eyeshadow and make some scales. I even tried making them on my shoulders and across my chest. However, stretching out a piece of leggings with one hand while trying to distribute eyeshadow evenly with the other was tougher than I imagined. Regardless, the result was still satisfactory.
And last but not least, I added some simple eyelashes to the corners of my eyes for added allure. I didn’t want to put too much makeup near my eyes and liked the look of a more “natural” sea-creature.
All in all, I had a lot of fun dressing up for this look. While I may not have a tail for my mermaid, the makeup trial run went really well. I think it’s in the running for a Halloween costume this year!