By Liana Jacob
THIS WOMAN claims that she is a MERMAID born in the WRONG BODY and has spent over £1.4K on a custom-made TAIL – she has even signed her daughters up to a special MERMAID COURSE.
Bookbinder, Heidrun Barth (41) from Saxonia, Germany, was born deaf just like her family. She has three daughters, Milena (11), Silena (9) and Roselena (5); two of whom are also deaf and they all communicate via sign language.
Growing up, Heidrun loved the Disney character Ariel; owning The Little Mermaid books and dreamt of turning her human legs into a tail.
But it wasn’t until the summer of 2016 when she had enough money to buy her own custom-made tail that she has been transforming her human body into a mermaid ever since; swimming in nearby lakes or posing in her tails on beaches or even trolleys.
Heidrun says that her youngest daughter loves her mermaid look and has picked up her lifestyle and her daughter is now showing signs she may follow in her mum’s fluke-steps.
She has since spent over £1,440 on an Ariel tail made by Aurore and her dream is to buy a house by the sea with a pool so that she can swim in her tail whenever she wants.
“When I was a child, I absolutely loved Ariel, from The Little Mermaid; I owned Ariel books, I’d read them over and over, and I’d dream about turning my legs into a tail as well,” Heidrun said.
“On my door I had a big drawing of Ariel that I’d made, with her hair a more orange colour like mine, so I could pretend it was me. It was just a dream that little children have.
“Then I grew up and joined a theatre group, and in one play I starred as a mermaid meeting a sailor, with a dress to look like a tail, and a seashell bikini. It was just a nice coincidence, looking back.“Time passed, I started a family, and my two daughters, who were two and four at the time, were completely obsessed with mermaids.
“For a carnival, I sewed them Little Mermaid costumes with tails. They were super happy. Photography is another hobby of mine, so I loved taking pictures of them in their costumes.
“I feel like I’m actually a mermaid who was born in the wrong body – the body of a human. Even the fact that I’m deaf means I’m suited for a life in the sea, because I don’t have any problem communicating in sign language whenever I’m underwater.
“I have red hair like Ariel, and I think I even look a bit like her. I love being in the water, it just gives me so much joy. I can’t imagine living any other way.
“My children grew up, started school, and then one year I wanted to surprise them with a little gift for their report cards.
“I’d heard of a special mermaid course for children, which I thought was a great idea. So, I went to sign up my children and was told I could participate as well.
“I told them surely this was just for children, and not for grown-ups – it would never have occurred to me to take part in such a thing. But since this was for my children, I had a good excuse.
“Of course, once we got there I was completely hooked; I tried on a tail for the first time, and just really enjoyed the experience.
“I would say it has changed my life for the better; I have to be really fit to swim with the tail and to hold my breath under water for as long as possible, which requires me to do sports regularly, eat well, get enough sleep, and generally live a healthy life.
“It just automatically makes me feel better and I’ve noticed that when I come back from a trip or an event where I spent time as a mermaid, I have more energy. I feel totally refreshed and I can give that back to my children and my family. It just makes me happy.
“My two younger daughters are as obsessed with mermaids as I was. They have books about mermaids, stuffed toys, Barbies, and they love that their mum is a mermaid as well.”
Heidrun says that she has been disappointed that her tail has been banned from public pools for health and safety reasons but dreams to own her own pool one day near to a beach so that she can swim with her tail freely.
But her family has been very supportive of her double-life as a mermaid and they always take pictures and shoot videos of her. She now performs for audiences including children as a mermaid and last year she began selling custom-made sequined tails.
“I’m not allowed to use public swimming pools with my tail; according to the lifeguards, it poses a risk to other people in the pool, even if I promise to be really careful. So that’s a bit disappointing,” she said.
“Every now and then there are special events for mermaid fans where we’re allowed to swim with our tails, but those are very rare.
“Why can’t I use a swimming pool if I don’t go at a busy time and make sure to respect everyone else’s space? That would be nice.
“As it is, I have to wait for the summer months, when I can find a lake to swim with my tail. Ideally, I’d live in a house by the sea. That would be my dream. Living by the sea, and with a pool too.
“My family has been really supportive. My partner is always willing to take videos or pictures of me as a mermaid when I ask him to, and if he can’t make it, my daughter will. Otherwise I’ll take pictures myself.
“There’s quite a bit of heavy lifting involved; hauling the bags with the tails and accessories to a lake, for example, isn’t all that fun.
“I’m also running out of space for everything at home. My dream would be a dedicated room in the house for all my mermaid things.
“As it is, I cram all the tails into a space beneath my bed, but I have to say, the smell of the sea or a swimming pool lingers for a while and I think it actually helps me have nice dreams.
“If I get ready really fast, I can accomplish a basic mermaid look in fifteen minutes. Adding the proper top for the look takes maybe another half hour. For the perfect result, with make-up and everything, I’d say an hour would be best.
“Sign language is useful in so many contexts; you can communicate underwater if you’re diving with someone else, you can converse through a glass pane or over a distance. There are so many uses for sign language.
“Most people might not even be aware of all the possibilities; some people even criticise signed languages as inferior.
“I just love the elegance and the beauty of swimming like a mermaid. But maybe I can do a lap for speed next time.
“Usually people compliment my looks and tell me they really like what I do. Sometimes people can’t believe I’m deaf; they think being a mermaid and being deaf don’t go together. Then I just tell them that no, I’m really deaf.
“Ultimately, I do have a role model – I can see her every day when I look in the mirror.”