‘I’m a merman, and I love it’

We speak to queer merman Mallow, who previously went by Maui, who has been donning a tail and swimming as a merman since 2018.

Mallow the Abalone Merman is the “mersona” of Keenon Hooks, a professional merman and choreographer from California. A mersona – as explained by Mermaid Phantom of The Magic Crafter on YouTube – is persona which people who portray mermaid or mermen characters take on, the mersona can include a name, aesthetic and character backstory.

Speaking with PinkNews Mallow, who went by Maui at the time, explained he first began swimming after seeing a friend of his “in a tail, rolling around on the beach” – which made him realise it is something people can actually do.

He bought a tail and “fell in love” with being a merman and described his first swim as a “magical experience”.

Since becoming a merman, one of his favourite experiences has been performing at the California Mermaid Convention, saying being out there as a “plus size merman” was game changing for the industry.

Whilst Mallow finds so much joy and authenticity in his activities, the response is not always positive.

Mallow’s family and friends are supportive but people on the internet are a different story, with people commenting negative and judgemental things on his social media accounts.

Despite the negativity, as a queer merman the message he hopes to send out into the world is one of inclusivity.

He said: “A lot of people when they have the perception of mermen they have: skinny, fit, muscular. Being that I am on the thicker side I promote body positivity so I can really show you can love yourself, love your body, and it doesn’t matter what stigmas are out there: you are enough and you are beautiful and you can do anything you put your mind to.”

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