Other than Cinderella, there is no greater story book icon than the mermaid. The mermaid offers the romance of the ocean combined with femininity and grace. Many of us relate to the mermaid by way of one of our beloved childhood fairytale stories written by Hans Christian Andersen - the "The Little Mermaid". This book was first published in 1836 by a Denmark author continues to fascinate us even today - over 150 year later. This intricate tale of love, want and desire lives on forever in our memories. It is no wonder that throughout the centuries and also throughout the world we continue to hear stories of either the appearance of a mermaid or the audio of the mermaid singing.
One of the many distinctive characteristics of the mermaids is supposed to be her beautiful voice. Beyond her graceful appearance and long flowing locks and beautiful face, the mermaid is said to offer an enchanting melody.
We will explore the many myths and touch upon several cultural stories along with a stunning display of mermaid dolls with special emphasis upon the mermaid Barbie dolls. We will also touch upon the environment needed in our oceans to support this mythical creature and its supposed genetic cousins the dugongs and the manatees.
Mermaid Terminology You Must Know
Siren: any of several aquatic, eellike salamanders of the family Sirenidae, having permanent external gills, small forelimbs, and no posterior limbs.
Dugong: an herbivorous, aquatic mammal, Dugong dugon, of the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, having a barrel-shaped body, flipperlike forelimbs, no hind limbs, and a triangular tail: widespread but rare. Approximately 8-10 feet. Few are known to exist, five are in captivity - protected species. Often called the sea cow. Can weigh in at 800 pounds.
Mermaid: As defined in folklore: a female marine creature, having the head, torso, and arms of a woman and the tail of a fish. Modern Day Usage: A highly skilled female swimmer.
Merfolk: humanoid aquatic creatures with fish-like characteristics
Manatee: A type of sirenia, often about 13 feet long.
Our Human Fascination
What is fun with this fascination of the mermaid is the mystery that surrounds this mythical creature. In the science world, the theory goes that the mermaid is from the a biological order comprising dugongs and manatees. What is a dugong you might ask? Sadly it is a creature that was hunted to extinction. The dugong in slang terms is sometimes referred to as the sea cow. To paint you a rough picture, essentially the dugong looks like the cousin of the manatee. The relationship to the mermaid is the front limbs are more human-like than other amphibian creatures.
What Can We Learn?
What can we learn about the mermaid? Well, since they technically don't exist, scientifically there is not much to learn. But with the amount of human fascination and all the talk about mermaids complete with a recent new movie by Disney we need to dive into this subject further to not only learn more about the myths surrounding the mermaid but also about ourselves and our relationship with our environment.
Sien's Song - Mysterious and Incredible Music with Mermaid Photos
Rare Enchanted Mermaid Barbie
Barbie Doll - Mermaid Style Design
Barbie mermaid dolls are always beautiful and cute. Often dressed in bright pink or purple. These magical creatures continue to fascinate us all.
Disney Arial Barbie Doll
Ooak Doll in Mermaid Design
Sophisticated Ooak Mermaid Dolls
If Barbie is cute and adorable, then the Ooak mermaid doll is sultry and provocative. Usually hand crafted and starting price wise where Barbie typically leaves off. If a Bob Mackie mermaid doll is running around $450-$600, look for Ooak to begin at $450-$600. Of course as demand changes, prices change. Both dolls are beautiful but which doll will advance in higher demand i the marketplace? I would bet on the more modern Ooak doll for the next couple of decades.
So who manufactures Ooak Barbie dolls? Well, you have to remember the term is stated to be derived from the yachting industry in 1949. It was used to differentiate the "one of a kind" in the regatta (the regatta for those land lubbers is the boat race on the water). The references that I found detailed that Ooak is a reference common in the cottage industry of doll making.
Ooak dolls often will boast hand painted faces and if you study the pieces they are exceptionally well detailed and very artful.
Also often referred to as the:
- "lady of the sea",
- "sea cow",
- "sea pig" and
- "sea camel"
What We Don't Know About the Mermaid
One of the items, I feel is important is the lack of knowledge of the mermaid. We continue to lack research into ocean life and sadly we know of a few items that mankind has hunted into extinction but what we really know is very limited.
In our age of technology and advancement, we remain neophytes in marine science. The deep dark waters and its flora and fauna and creature of the deep remain a mystery partially due to lack of access but also due to lack of funding.
The Hunting of the Dugong
The dugong has a lifespan of 70 years. Mankind has hunted or sometimes referred to politely "over harvested" the dugong for its meat and its oil.
One of the terms, I find important is the term "anthropogenic impact on the environment" or mankind's impact.
There is another creature of the sea called the Steller's sea cow that is completely extinct and we know it existed because of the fossils that were found along the North Pacific coastlines ranging from California to Japan. One of the arguments for the possible extinction is the over harvest of the sea otter that served as the Steller's sea cow's food source.
Politically Correct Words
Whatever politically correct words you wish to use for the extinction of these animals from the seas, the fact remains mankind in its worst form kills. To harm the environment so severely to allow a series to go extinct can have politically correct words but the real word is "killer". While our science of the seas is limited, our humanity is even more deficient. It is our job as citizens of the world to learn these facts and take corrective actions.
Words We Can Learn From the Mermaid
"Anthropogenic" impact on the environment - essentially the human impact upon our environment.
CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention) is a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals
Enchanted Barbie - Underwater Princess - Mermaid
If I were to have one doll and only one doll, the doll I would choose would be the Enchanted Mermaid Barbie. The gracefulness and the lasciviousness of the costume is unsurpassed. As uf the flowing hair and beautiful face weren't enough the sequins combined with the pearls extend not just to the mermaid tail but also to an elaborate pearl tiara befitting the princess of the Sea.
2002 Enchanted Mermaid
Mermaid Barbie - 2012
2012 Bob Mackie Mermaid Barbie
Perhaps even more rare than the Enchanted Barbie Mermaid doll is the designer Barbie doll issued by Mattel in 2012 and designed by the famous clothing designed Bob Mackie. If you will recall, Cher often wore Bob Mackie evening dresses. Imagine only 4,300 dolls manufactured. This is the nature of the Gold label but perhaps even more rare given the notoriety of the designer name attached to this doll and then you add in the magic of the ocean - the mermaid!
This Bob Mackie doll is glamorous and mysterious - just as a mermaid should be!
Ooak Mermaid Barbie Doll
Ooak is a doll that is very similar but yet more sophisticated and more customized than Barbie. Ooak dolls are often erroneously referred to as "Barbie" but that is really a misnomer. Barbie is a registered trademark of Mattel.
Barbie - Mermaid Style Via Thailand
“If you swim effortlessly in the deep oceans, ride the waves to and from the shore, if you can breathe under water and dine on the deep treasures of the seas; mark my words, those who dwell on the rocks carrying nets will try to reel you into their catch. The last thing they want is for you to thrive in your habitat because they stand in their atmosphere where they beg and gasp for some air.”
― C. JoyBell C.
Sandra’s seen a leprechaun,
Eddie touched a troll,
Laurie danced with witches once,
Charlie found some goblins gold.
Donald heard a mermaid sing,
Susy spied an elf,
But all the magic I have known
I've had to make myself.”
― Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends
“I think every little girl's dream is to be a mermaid or to see a mermaid. [When I was younger] I would go to the beach and cover myself in the sand. People from different cultures and centuries have the same idea of what mermaids are ... so that's maybe a cool thing to think about.”
― Emma Roberts
Monster High Mermaid Video
Modern Day Mermaids - Monster High's Version
The Monster High versions of the mermaid, I find a little creepy. The video to the right has music that counters this and I find uplifting. The photographs in the video are remarkable - they capture the very essence of the mysteries of the deep with brilliant colors and gracious curves. This video is truly a delight to all the senses - the ear and the eyes! Enjoy!
Monster High Custom Mermaid Poseidon's Daughter
T. S. Eliot Poem About Mermaids
“No I am not Prince Hamlet nor was meant to be
Am an attendant lord one that will do
To swell a progress start a scene or two
Advise the prince no doubt an easy tool
Deferential glad to be of use
Politic cautious and meticulous
Full of high sentence but a bit obtuse
At times indeed almost ridiculous—
Almost at times the Fool.
I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind Do I dare to eat a peach
I shall wear white flannel trousers and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us and we drown.”
― T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
T. S. Eliot - Poet Who Wrote About the Mermaid
From a modern perception to a vintage perception provided via T.S. Eliot in his poem about mermaids.
Who was T.S. Eliot? "Eliot, T. S. (26 Sept. 1888-4 Jan. 1965), poet, critic, and editor, was born Thomas Stearns Eliot in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Henry Ware Eliot, president of the Hydraulic-Press Brick Company..."
Barbie Fairytopia Mermaidia
Fairytopia Mermaidia - Cheery and Happy Mermaid with Color Changing Hair
One of the most popular toys for Mattel is the color changing mermaid. Yes, this mermaid is happy and lighthearted and if you put her hair in cool water, I have told it will turn purple and pink! And you wondered where that new fashion statement got it's start - didn't you?
“I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.”
― Anaïs Nin
Who would be
A mermaid fair,
Combing her hair
Under the sea,
In a golden curl
With a comb of pearl,
On a throne?
I would be a mermaid fair;
I would sing to myself the whole of the day;
With a comb of pearl I would comb my hair;
And still as I comb I would sing and say,
"Who is it loves me? who loves not me?"
- Lord Alfred Tennyson, The Mermaid
"Ariel, listen to me: the human world is a mess. Life under the sea is better than anything they've got up there!"
~Sebastian 18 up, 9 down The Little Mermaid quotes
"Up where they walk, up where they run, up where they stay all day in the sun. Wandering free...Wish I could...Part of that world."
~Ariel 13 up, 5 down The Little Mermaid quotes
"You're not getting cold fins now are you?"
“Not everything is a mermaid that dives into the water.”
“All I am saying, is there is evidence, biological and genetic, that the existence of mermaids is possible, if not probable. Over time, evolution can be revolutionary, I like to say.”
-Professor Nathaniel Hand” ~ Robert Woolcott, The Mermaid Coast
Summary - Living Above It All or Beyond It All?
From Christopher Columbus' sighting of a mermaid, to Disney's blockbuster hit of the The Little Mermaid they named Ariel to T.S. Eliot and Tennyson, mermaids continue to permeate both our American culture and the Asian culture. This global fascination has a reason for a common connection across the continents.
The love of the sea and the mystery of the sea all relate to the mermaid. But, I would challenge, perhaps we ALL love the mermaid and forever remain fascinated because we too yearn to live above it all or perhaps it is for us humans - beyond it all?
To this end, I must ask, on what level, does the mermaid speak to you?
© 2014 Kelly Kline Burnett
Kelly Kline Burnett (author) from Southern Wisconsin on August 05, 2020:
Hi Niina, I am jealous - what a treat and great memories. Thank you so much for sharing.
Kelly Kline Burnett (author) from Southern Wisconsin on August 05, 2020:
Oh, I am jealous - how wonderful! And what great memories! Thank you so much for sharing.
Niina Niskanen from Wrexham on April 20, 2018:
I used to have that 1991 mermaid Barbie when I was a kid. She had the most beautiful glittery hair.