The Little Merman
Ever since Lulu and I saw the movie "Aquamarine''--in which two pubescent girls sublimated all their sexual feelings via an adopted mermaid, who dates the hunky lifeguard on whom they have a massive and humiliating crush--Lulu has been obssesed with mermaids.
And why shouldn't she be? Mermaids are the grooviest of all girl fantasy creatures, far more exciting and complex than fairies or princesses, and when I was little I was obssessed with them, too. I had an imaginary friend named Tina the Mermaid who took baths with me. She had long red hair and a golden tail.
Lulu's mermaids have blonde hair and blue tails. Over the winter, she kept drawing pictures of them, including "before'' pictures of girls with legs and "after'' pictures of girls with tails.
I wondered what it was about mermaids that made them such enduring mythological figures. And then it occurred to me that that this never happened with merMEN!
No one cared about them--not only because they never starred in any Hans Christen Anderson stories or Disney movies---but because, when you think about it, they're slightly creepy.
When I did an image search on mermen, I realized why. Having a tail made them look look hippy, like blowsy starlets. Even illustrators who tried to avoid this by narrowing their hips and bulking up their chests ended up with something that resembled Fabio with a tail.
The mermaid images, on the other hand, were sexy. Their tales made them seem womanly, even kinky. Up top they were naked, and below the waist was a big long vagina symbol, but there wasn't an actual vagina there. Just smooth and glittery fish scales. They could swim, but they couldn't run. They were at home in one element only, and otherwise, they were completely vulnerable. Even in the ocean, all you needed was a net to capture them.
In theory, mermen should be sexy, too. They're sensitive, in touch with nature, they have beautiful upper torsos. But for men, having a tale instead of legs---not to mention a penis--is not a good thing. They just look like shark bait.
I discussed this with Lulu as I showed her the merman images. She agreed that there was nothing very attractive about them.
"Why don't you draw a merman?'' I asked. "Maybe you could make one that looks good.''
"No,'' she said. "I want to draw mermaids.''
Even after I offered to pay her 50 cents to draw a merman, she refused and continued drawing mermaids with flowing wavy hair and seashells over their breasts, frolicking in the sea.