The making of Suraia’s Sequin Tail

I have gathered all the photo’s and small video’s I made when I was making my sequin tail which is affectionately called the Angelfish tail by some other people. I gathered them all and created a small YouTube video of the tail’s creation. I had a lot of fun making this tail and I’m very proud of how it turned out.

Here is the video:

At the time I was making this tail, which was about a year ago already, I didn’t realize how much this sequin would shed however. Even after a year and several uses I still find sequin all around the house when I’ve had a swim, cleaned my tail and hang it out to dry. This is why I made the decision to not ever use it in a natural setting. I did one DIY photoshoot with my mom on the beach at her camping place. We had to pick up the sequin there for the like 15 minutes I had the tail on as we took a couple of pictures.

These sequin can end up in the water and animals can eat them. Sequin are microplastics and they don’t belong outdoors. We as mermaids and cosplayers should set an example of being good to our environment, which means not leave plastic everywhere we go.

This is why I only ever use this tail in indoor swimming pools. I still think the tail is beautiful and I love how it shimmers and shines, but it also disappears in the water because it’s basically white. I don’t mind the subtlety of that though, it’s just not great for underwater footage at times. It really depends on what effect you are looking for in a tail. Light tails will blend into the water which can be nice. Bright colored tails will pop out in the water, which can also be nice.

Suraia

Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hey hey, I’m Suraia, currently in my mid-thirties. I live in the Netherlands with my husband, two dogs and two kids. Since I take care of the house, the dogs and the kids I do not have a paid job at the moment. I spend my time trying to get the house in order and taking care of my kids and the dogs. I spend a lot of time behind the computer when I can but I also like to make cards every now and then or do other arts and crafts.

What are your hobbies?
I am actually a real life mermaid and I want to try out cosplay as well. A couple of nights a week I play World of Warcaft, either to just enjoy the game or to roleplay in it. I like to write short stories for the aftermath or in between RP in WoW and I also make stories up there as a dungeon master. Sometimes when I have inspiration I try and draw something as well, I either color it with copics on paper or on the computer if I feel really fancy and have a lot of time, which I never have actually… When mermaiding I always take my camera with me to make pictures and movies but I am by no means a professional in that regard. I did make my current mermaid tail myself and a couple of pieces of outfits for the Elf Fantasy Fair or larp I used to do. I had to stop larping because we couldn’t combine it with the kids and the dogs anymore.

I like all these hobbies because they are centered around persona’s in a fantasy themed setting. I mostly like the more personal aspect of it, so I like to have my own characters and play with them as well with others. I love the visual aspect, digital as well as in real life and that is why I like to try and bring my characters to life with stories, drawings, rendered pictures, costumes and everything. I’m a huge fan of roleplaying and the social aspect of it. I can write a story by myself, but that wouldn’t give me any input from others. Though input from others isn’t always very positive, it is often very surprising and leads to possible situations I wouldn’t have thought of myself.

I have also attempted to make costumes for hubby but I’m not really good at that.

Tell us about your uniqueness?
I’ve always been seen as a silent and sort of shy person who isn’t outgoing and doesn’t really engage with others much. Back in school I often only had one or two friends. It took me till I was in my mid-twenties, after my brother got diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome to go to the doctor and get diagnosed as well. Both of us had to discover for ourselves that we weren’t ‘normal’ and we both had to seek out a diagnoses ourselves. It was my brothers research that led me to realize that I was different too and that the struggles I had and to this day still have aren’t because there is something wrong with me. It’s just that my brain processes information differently which leads me to sometimes react differently then people would expect. Sadly this has led to many misunderstandings in the past and since I didn’t know I was autistic, nor did I know how to deal with this I ended up blaming myself and thinking there was something wrong with me.

How did people treat you for being different?
If I even was ever bullied at school it wasn’t very obvious. I guess I learned very quickly to keep to myself and pretend to not notice anything if I got the idea that other people were talking about me behind my back. But this did lead to me thinking that people were possibly talking behind my back and avoiding them, I just crawled further into my own shell.

This meant that I spend most of my youth feeling and being invisible. I loved anything fantasy and started roleplaying on forums and making up my own fantasy settings for roleplay or thinking up stories of grand adventures with several heroic characters.

It didn’t really matter what I did, I just never really fit in anywhere. Yet I did keep searching for a place I could feel at home and actually be myself, I just never found one.

When and how did you change this?
Even before my diagnosis I discovered the fantasy world through the Elf Fantasy Fair, it was one of the first places where I really felt at home and at ease. And even though I would dress up to go to the fair with hubby and my mom I was there, but I was more spectating and not really participating. I saw other people being asked for their picture to be taken by many people and part of me wanted that too. I guess I wanted to be noticed, yet when I did I mostly froze up, not really knowing what to do.

Through the Elf Fantasy Fair I discovered larping and with hubby I went to my first larp. It took me a couple of attempts at larping and a couple of characters before I found a character that suited me and I got to know the people I was larping with personally. Half of the time I had a great time, but the other half I still felt misunderstood, like I was doing it wrong.

Then my brother was diagnosed and after that I got my own diagnosis. For a while I had a therapist and he did help me put a lot of things in perspective. It didn’t change what happened in the past, but it did make me realize, that none of it was actually my fault.

Through mermaiding and online MMO’s I came in contact with more people who were different. I started to realize that a lot of ‘normal’ people are quick to judge someone on what they see as flaws rather than highlighting the things that make people unique or special. I realized that this was much less so in the fantasy community. Here a lot of people were way more accepting of diversity overall.

I have learned that you just need to surround yourself with the right people. When you feel at ease and you are doing something you love you naturally have this bolstered feeling of confidence that I normally don’t have. And it makes me feel so happy and brave and up to doing things I normally wouldn’t dare. Sometimes it would feel like I’m glowing. Sure, there still are people who look at you funny or with that disapproving look, but the simple truth is that I don’t care what they think when I’m in the zone as it were. Even if they would say something about it I just smile at them and nearly take it as a compliment because in that moment I am unique and I’m not afraid to show it. And that just makes me feel awesome.

Are you part of any special group(s)?
I was part of an amazing larp group in the Netherlands. Since I had to stop larping the contact is much less now, but we still are in contact every now and then. I get invited to birthday parties every now and then so I can say hello and listen to their larp and D&D adventures mostly.

I am also part of the Moonlight Mermaids, we are a very small pod mostly just focusing on friendship and doing fun stuff together which is mostly mermaiding or cosplay related. We also did some mermaiding for charity which was awesome. You could say I’m one of the founders or initiators of this pod since I expressed my desire to belong to a pod to the lovely Celtic Mermaid Oceana and she talked to some mutual mermaid friends of ours and we then started the pod. These girls are just amazing people who are likeminded, friendly and accepting of everyone to just be who they are. We lift each other up and have a great time doing that. There is no pressure in this pod only acceptance, friendship and patience.

Apart from that I started a small community in World of Warcraft to find likeminded people who want to join me and are compatible with my preferred style of Roleplaying. Being behind the computer makes it easier yet at the same time harder to do things. I more often experience both the good and the bad within the roleplaying community. Within my own community I can try and do things my way and I know ‘the rules’ since I sort of made them myself. But we also have a much better out of character contact and communication which simply is key to getting an awesome RP experience and diving deeper into actual roleplay that goes far beyond drinking in a tavern or travelling from place A to place B and maybe killing a few creatures along the way.

What do you hope to do in the next year or two?
Lately I’ve been looking more and more into diversity and what I’ve mostly noticed is that people don’t know enough about it. We live in a world where those who shout the loudest and are more dominant then other are heard the most and get the most attention. When people like that are spreading misinformation a lot of people will accept this as the truth. That is why we have to raise awareness about the actual truth.

I know I am neither loud nor dominant. But this doesn’t make me any less important then any other person. Even if everything I do only reaches a couple of people and makes them change their view on diversity then I would already call it a success. These people might talk to some other people, this is how we get a ball rolling, maybe it’s rolling slowly, but it’s still rolling nevertheless.

That is why I made this website, I want to use it as a sort of archives for my adventures in the fantasy world. I’m focusing here on Mermaiding, Cosplay and maybe Larp if that would be in my future. I also want to feature other people in this same world who are unique so we can show that we are out there one at a time if we have too. It is my hope to come into contact with likeminded people and make Feelii’s Cove come to life as a virtual meeting place on the internet.

At the moment I am trying to find ways for me to earn some money so I can buy a new monovin and tail for mermaiding. I am looking into designing my own mermaid tail to be printed onto fabric, but I am not sure if I can actually do this. I would love to do more things as a mermaid to raise awareness for diversity, kindness and the environment. This is also why I have stepped away from wanting to make a sequin tail or wearing a synthetic wig in the water. If I want to promote a plastic free ocean, I shouldn’t be swimming in it with things that shed plastic.

For cosplay I have my first cosplay Princess Serenity from Sailor Moon and when I get the time I want to try and make my first ever prop. But at this moment my children and mermaiding are more important.

I would love to get some actual experience in doing a professional photoshoot, but I sadly simply don’t have the money to just pay for one at the moment. Since I’m also not extroverted and have no experience posing at all I do find the idea of doing a photoshoot a bit scary, yet I would love to have some good pictures of my mersona and cosplay at some point.

What are your wishes for the future?
I hope to raise awareness to the fact that this world only facilitates to a specific kind of person, but that there actually are a lot more different people out there. It is my wish that this is acknowledged and that the world might change to better facilitate everyone and not just the assertive or loud ‘normal’ people.

I want to see my children grow up to be kind and accepting of everyone. I want them and everyone else to have an equal chance at everything. If I can somehow contribute to creating this world by using my website and participating in activities to raise awareness then that would be great. I know change isn’t easy and nothing ever happens if people just don’t try and change things. Yet change doesn’t have to come through violence and force and sometimes even aggression. Those aren’t the things we want to stand for, so it shouldn’t be the thing needed to start this change.

For me personally I would maybe someday hope to own a full silicone tail for mermaiding and have some really lovely cosplays and larp characters. It would be great if some people would know me like: ‘Hey, that is Suraia, the openly autistic person who inspired me for this or that.’

It would be my dream to somehow collaborate with other people who want the same thing as I do to work together in raising awareness and get that ball rolling faster and faster. This can be done through online projects, or if they happen to be in the Netherlands through a possible meet-up to do things together.

Also virtual reality… I’ll just keep on dreaming.

Is there anything else you want to share?
Even though change isn’t easy, it only takes one person to start something. It takes courage to do something, but it doesn’t matter if it’s big or small. The fact that you try will already affect other people. And if one thing doesn’t work, try something else. Even though results are nice, at the end of the day the most important thing is the fact that you were busy with something, that you are trying.

What advice would you give others that are also unique?
The best thing you can do is to find that special something that you love doing and then go and do that. Search for people with similar interests. If you surround yourself with people who accept you for who you are and who support or share your idea’s and the things you like, you will flourish. They will built you up and you will be awesome, because you are! And no one can take that away from you, no matter how hard they might try.

Social Media handles:
You are already on my website.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SuraianFriends/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/suraianfriends/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEXi6PVT_mg96IzMimInlXA
Discord: Suraia#6757

Sealine: What to do about bullying

Ooh what do I see there? Hmm, it appears to be a mermaid. What do you think she’s doing? I see, she’s collecting shells. I think I know her, her name is Sealine, she’s a bit shy. Come, let’s join her and see if we can find some more shells.

Sealine looked up.

Did she hear something? It sounds like someone is crying, there behind the water plants. There is another mermaid there. She seems very sad, maybe we should go to her to see how she is doing?

Slowly Sealine came closer before she swam towards the other mermaid after a moment of doubt.

‘Hey,’ Sealine carefully said: ‘What’s going on?”
The other mermaid looked up a bit startled and rubbed her eyes for a moment: ‘Octavia is bullying me. She says that I’m ugly.”

Have you ever been bullied? Bullying isn’t fun is it?

Sealine looked surprised and carefully sat down next to the other mermaid on the rock: ‘But… I think you are beautiful.’
‘You’re just saying that,’ said the other mermaid.
‘No, I’m saying it because it’s true,’ Sealine blushed a bit then smiled shyly at the other mermaid: ‘I… I’m Sealine.’
‘I am Lakea,’ the other mermaid answered: ‘And do you really mean that?’
Sealine nodded and her smile broadened: ‘Yes, I mean look at your tail, it’s beautiful.’
‘Thank you,’ Lakea answered: ‘You’re sweet. Do you want to be friends?’
Sealine blushed deeply: ‘Of… of course I’d want that.’

Both mermaids laughed and then they carefully gave each other a hug.

‘But,’ Sealine carefully said: ‘We have to do something… bullying is not… umm… good.’
Lakea looked up a bit unsure: ‘But… Octavia is so… scary!’
‘Shall we… umm… find other fish, and… ask them what they do against bullying?’ Sealine hesitantly asked.
‘Would you dare to do that?’ Lakea asked.

What about you? Would you dare to do that?

‘Well,’ Sealine said before she started blushing again: ‘Normally I wouldn’t… but… you are my friend. I’d do it for you.’
‘That’s very brave of you,’ Lakea said.
Sealine blushed even more but then the two girls looked at each other bravely before they swam away.

After swimming a little while Lakea and Sealine saw a though looking stingray. The two friends hesitantly looked at him.
‘Why are you staring at me?’ the stingray asked: ‘Hey, aren’t you Lakea?’
‘Let’s go Sealine,’ Lakea said: ‘He was there, he just hang there and watched.’
Sealine looked at Lakea for a little while before she turned her attention back towards the stingray and asked: ‘Why didn’t you do anything?’
The stingray looked a bit uneasy: ‘I… umm… well, what was I supposed to do then?’
Sealine looked a bit surprised and blushed again: ‘Well… umm… maybe you could have said something?”
‘Oh… well… yeah, you do have a point. But Octavia is so big. I don’t want to get into a fight with her,’ he answered: ‘Ooh, the name’s Ray by the way. And I’m sorry Lakea. What Octavia did wasn’t cool, I should have said something. Can we be friends?’

Sealine looked at Lakea who seemed to doubt for a moment, but then she nodded and smiled: ‘Friends.’
Ray lifted up his fin and yelled: ‘High Five!’
Both mermaids swam up to him and gave him a high five. All of them laughed.
‘Say… Ray,’ Sealine asked: ‘What would you do against bullying?’

And you? What would you do against bullying?

‘Me? Well, I… I don’t know.’ Ray admitted after a while: ‘Maybe we should go ask granny Soë the seahorse. She knows everything!’
And so our friends swam away to look for granny Soë.

‘Come my children,’ granny Soë the seahorse said: ‘I really don’t bite. Is there something you want to ask me?”
‘Umm… g… granny Soë…’ Sealine shyly started: ‘What… what can you do against… umm… against a bully fish?’
‘That is a good question, my child. What do you think?’ Granny Soë the seahorse answered.

And what do you think? What would you do against a bully fish?

‘Well,’ Ray said: ‘If he for example tells me that I’m fat, I will say: you are fat yourself!’
‘I see…’ answered granny Soë: ‘But would you like it if people treated you like that?’
‘Well… umm. No, I wouldn’t like that,’ Ray answered.
‘So, maybe you can better treat them with kindness and respect? Treat others the way you want to be treated yourself?’ granny Soë suggested: ‘You do not want to react the way a bully fish does, do you?’
‘But… that sounds so… scary,’ Lakea said.
‘It is scary, dear child,’ granny Soë answered: ‘But if you do not talk to a bully fish, then you will never know why they act like they do. They often act like that because they are afraid of being vulnerable. Grand them a bit of kindness and you will see that they are very different from what you thought they were. Surprise them. Be friendly.’
‘But their words hurt people,’ Sealine said.
‘That is true,’ answered granny Soë: ‘But try to stay calm. Try to not let it show that what they say hurts you. And you can do that, clever child.’

‘You are beautiful,’ granny Soë told Lakea.
‘You are brave,’ granny Soë told Sealine.
‘And you are strong,’ granny Soë told Ray: ‘That is why I know you can do this, because you are perfect, just the way you are.’
The three friends smiled: ‘Thank you, granny Soë.’
After that they left again.

On their way home they suddenly ran into Octavia Octopus.
‘You are fat!’ Octavia said to another fish.
Sealine was a bit scared but she took a deep breath and bravely swam towards Octavia: “Hey, why are you acting like this?’
‘Mind your own business!’ Octavia angrily yelled: ‘Get lost!’
Sealine blushed deeply: ‘I… umm…’
‘We just want to know why you act that way?’ Ray said after he swam next to Sealine: ‘You are so full of confidence. There is so much good you could do with that.’
Octavia blinked a couple of times, looking visibly surprised: ‘Umm what?’
‘Yes…’ Lakea said while she joined her friends: ‘You are such a smart octopus.’
‘Umm… thank you?’ Octavia said and suddenly she sounded rather unsure.
Sealine smiled: ‘Your welcome. But, you still haven’t told us why you are acting like that?’
‘Well… umm… I… uh..’ Octavia stuttered before she sighed: ‘Things are not so well at home. I… I’m having a difficult time…’

‘But… maybe we could help you?’ Ray suggested, the two mermaids nodded and gave Octavia a friendly smile.
“But I… I was so unkind… to you.” Octavia answered unsurely.
Lakea smiled at Octavia: ‘That was then, this is now. I’d rather be your friend.’
‘Yes,’ Sealine said: ‘I… I would love to be friends with someone as strong as you are, Octavia.”
‘We could do so many cool things together, as friends,’ said Ray.
‘Really? You would want that?’ Octavia asked: ‘I… I’m sorry.. for all the unkind things I said. Can we be friends?’

The three friends looked at each other and nodded.
‘Absolutely!’ The three of them said.

And so they all became friends with each other and supported each other. They did a lot of fun and exciting things together. But that is a story for another time.

 And do you know why? Because they are all amazing, just like you!

Serious Swim & Dive 2018

Last December, the Moonlight Mermaid pod participated in their first charity event. We swam during the Serious Swim & Dive 2018 to raise money for Serious Request.

We all very much had a blast during this event and I managed to make a video of it.

Apart from a number of members of our little pod themselves, there were also some other mers that came along.

The Moonlight Mermaids swim with friends

Last weekend we were invited to a small mermaid meet in Houten (the Netherlands). There were more then ten mermaids in total and we had a lot of fun.

From my own pod, the moonlight mermaids, Melody, Shelley, Moonia and I were present. We met the lovely mermaid Cherelle who joined us while we were playing a bit. I had brought my camera and we managed to film quiet a lot.

I took most of the footage I had of us and some of the other mermaids who also joined us while filming at times and made a video for YouTube.

Many thanks for Veerle for inviting us to come along to swim in the pool, we had loads of fun.

DIY Toddler Mermaid Tail

My little girl wanted to have her own mermaid tail when she wasn’t even two years old. Since I had some left over fabric from the tail I had made at that point I decided to try and make her a matching tail.

The tail is open at the back and I used small buttons to close it loosely around the lower part of her legs if she wanted too. It’s open at the feet so she can walk in it too and since the tail was made of Lycra materials it would also be swimmable.

Here is a sketch I made on the measurements I needed to put this tail together:

And this was the result:

I have made a video that I uploaded to YouTube which shows step by step how I made this tail for her: