I would love to see some reversal and playing with these tropes, some serious confrontations of the disability and gender narratives embedded in storytelling about mermaids, because I think it would be really interesting. Why not have a gay or lesbian retelling of a traditional fairytale? Or one where the mermaid remains underwater and the love interest is forced to give everything up to go into the sea? Why not flop the paradigm and turn the normative land-based body into the tragedy and the thing that must be modified in order to fit into an undersea environment? Or perhaps a mermaid could fall in love with someone who uses a wheelchair for mobility on land and discovers that the water provides freedom and independence? Why does the mermaid tale have to be inherently tragic, a tale of one broken and one ‘normal’ body?
The reason I am so drawn to Tumblr is not only for the glory, exorcism and witnessing of rage, but also the amazing and beautiful sentiment and drive towards “If we want to see it, and it does not exist, we will CREATE it. We will NAME it. We will SUBVERT it. We will WALLOW in it until our bellies are filled with self-love.”
This is an illustration from Virginia Hamilton’s book, “Her Stories”. It’s a book comprised of African/African-American fairy tales. I think the story was called “Sadie and the Mermaid”. Sadie’s life sucked so she met the mermaid, but then her father found out and shot the mermaid D:
yessss thank you i couldn’t remember the source
i must acquire this book
I saw someone else saying it was out of print, so I just wanted to let people know that you can get Her Stories on Amazon new right now for $17 (Prime eligible). There are used copies available (also on Amazon) starting at $4-$5 (including shipping, and some of those super cheap copies are listed as “Very Good” condition).
ETA: Apparently Virginia Hamilton also wrote The People Could Fly, which was a favorite collection of mine as a child. I don’t know why we didn’t have this one!