In the first episode of MerPeople, the new docuseries about the rapidly growing community of professional mermaids, someone approaches mermaid Chè Monique from behind and taps her on the shoulder.
“My family told me there’s no such thing as a fat mermaid,” the woman says, starstruck and holding back tears. “It’s an honor to meet you. You just make it okay for me to be me.”
It’s the kind of thing Chè Monique has gotten used to hearing in the five years since she started mermaiding. Though she’d been in the water her entire life (she says she has no recollection of not being able to swim), it was only in adulthood that she realized she wanted her time spent in the water to be more than just bobbing aimlessly in the brine. She wanted to be a mermaid.
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