Jan 2014
Josie Bungert

“Who says that my dreams have to stay just my dreams?” – Ariel

So last fall, I saw this story on The Huffington Post: “Mermaid Melissa Dawn Finds Love With Merman Antonio Padilla” This woman makes her living being a professional mermaid. She is hired for events, works in aquariums and does her own shows. She also trained herself to hold her breath for up to five minutes, and can talk, clear as day, under water. At first, when I saw it, I was creeped out, and assumed she was weird. I didn’t understand how she thought this was a real way to live, or why on Earth she thought she could possibly be a real mermaid. I was straight up judging this woman for being weird and earning national attention for it before I even read the introduction paragraph to the article. Then, I actually read her story. Her reasoning for wanting to be a real life mermaid was, even though slightly strange, all legitimate. In fact, I found myself relating to her.

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with The Little Mermaid (hence the reason I was drawn to this article in the first place). That coupled with my fascination with dolphins/dream to become a dolphin trainer is what lead me to beg my parents to paint my room like an ocean. With a light blue sky and a dark blue ocean, I stuck stickers of Ariel’s kingdom on top of the waves, and put dolphins in the water. It was my own oasis, my own way to personalize my bedroom into more than just a place to sleep. I adored Ariel, Flounder and Sebastian (I had 15 different Flounder stuffed animals of various sizes) and legitimately wanted to be “apart of their world”. There was nothing more magical to me than the fact that they built a whole kingdom underwater, and that the film was so thought out in what animals would play what role, what creatures would be villains and even what the characters would eat. All of that along with the fact that she was the only redheaded Disney Princess just made me addicted to this movie.

After thinking back on my childhood and why I loved mermaids, I realized this woman was really not that crazy at all. Sure, her career idea was out of the ordinary, but she, to me, is someone to aspire to be. Someone who is just doing what they love, every single day. Also, get this: she makes money and travels all over the world. Isn’t that everyone’s goal? To get paid to do what you love, see the world, and get noticed for it? AND, the whole “prince charming thing”? TOTALLY LEGIT – she found a guy who also dresses up as a mermaid, proving there is literally someone for everyone.

Basically, Melissa Dawn is my new role model. She encapsulates not only the meaning of what it means to grow up in and do what you want to do, not what society wants you to do, but what Disney movies really do (yes, Disney movies have a point outside of entertainment value) encourage girls to do: dream BIG. You go, Melissa Dawn.