This year was my first Mermaid Parade! Well, technically second because last year I was a spectator, but seeing the beauty of 2016’s costumes (the glitter! the sequins! the swimsuits!) made me certain that I would never again visit Coney Island sans costume (parade or no.) So, Coney Island Mermaid* Parade 2017!
The Day’s Events:
- Holiday-themed mermaids, including Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas (who walked non-stop in chronological order, thanks to Christmas Mermaid cracking the whip.)
- Alice in Wonderland mermaids, with a Queen of Hearts, Cheshire Cat, Tweedles Dum and Dee, the March Hare, Mad Hatter (including boat-themed teapot), and a young Alice herself.
- CLAMilton! Cream corsets and shell-shaped skirts (which Google tells me are called “bums,” “rumps” or “culs.”) The best part about this troupe was their dance sequences to the soundtrack, and their banner:
- A Handmaid’s Tail mermaids (praise beach)
- Wizard of Oz mermaids, with Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Lion, Elphaba (can I call her that in this context or does it break from the official canon?)
- SO many Wonder Woman mermaids! ❤
- Crop-themed mermaids? Corn-on-the-cob handbags and straw hair? What even is America?
- A marching band playing in the rain (that poor euphonium)
I said it last year, but it bears repeating: Mermaid Parade is an absolute celebration of bodies and their beauty. People of every age, size, colour, and ability show up in various states of undress and various degrees of sequinage and have a blast!
- Men leering at women in ALL states of dress. The women who chose to wear skintight clothing, or bras and swimsuits, or pasties, or nothing at all especially endured whistles and comments from spectators.
- Men commenting on the parade-goers in the rain with hardly obscure sexual undertones: “I love me some wet mermaid in the morning.”
- Men taking photos of scantily-clad women. I will grant the fact that the parade is a spectacle, and that photographers of all genders were present. But the appearance of a nearly-naked mermaid led to a swarm of male photographers gathering around the mermaid in question, jostling to get a good shot. Take your artsy picture, and then move on. Do not make her feel uncomfortable.
- Men taking photos of women eating: a personal story. While enjoying our pineapple-and-nachos lunch, Tina and I noticed a photographer standing near our picnic table, fiddling with his camera. A few moments later, and I was about to take a bite of my meal, he dashed to the table and aimed the camera at me and my open mouth. A little taken a-back, I said, “Wow, haha, you just got a shot of me with food all up in my face…?” His response, instead of an apology, was, “Huh. That was the point.” He wandered off. I was incredulous. Had I expected an apology? An offer to take a better photo, with a smile instead of ridicule? I should be clear – I do not mind that a silly photo of me exists on the internet. Goodness knows I have had fun with #AwkwardProfilePictureWeek:
And yet. This man’s approach was to surprise me, shove his camera into my face, and saunter off when confronted. He did not bother to ask my consent. I would have happily posed or given him a candid eating shot. If he had asked. Instead, he saw fit to invade my space and my privacy (which, yes, still exists in public spaces.) Be better, man!
- One male spectator reaching across the barrier into the crowd, calling to women to come and hug him. He was especially persistent towards women wearing less clothing, and make gross chuckling noises when they came close. Many women ignored him or gave him the evil eye, but some women chose to hug him. Unfortunately, those who did so were subjected to him pulling them into a VERY close full-body press across the barrier, refusing to let them go. It was SO uncomfortable to see, and not a single person around him told him to stop, even when the ensnared women verbalized their discomfort.
- Mermaid Parade is for everyone’s entertainment – that of walkers and spectators. This does not give anyone a right to comment on someone’s body, or to make them feel uncomfortable for choosing to create their costume in a certain way.
- There will be a fair share of nudity. Let’s recognize that bodies are just bodies (I mean, duh) and that sexualizing them is both boring (grow up and move beyond the shock factor) and, more importantly, dangerous. Ogling someone because they are not wearing any clothing is a step towards seeing that person as an object. Objectification leads to violent, abusive circumstances, the beginnings of which are described above. Just stop.
- Mermaids may dress up and put in a good deal a effort because their costume garners attention. Sure! Show off your work and your body and have a blast! Note: there is no “but” to this point.
- To anyone who says, “People who do not want to be leered at should cover up,” fuck right off. Read up on rape culture here, and then we’ll talk.
- If you see someone behaving grossly, call them out on it. Men who treat women like objects are less likely to listen to women telling them to stop. #GoodMen, this is where we need you to step up. Do us all a solid.
- Just be a better human. We will all thank you for it.