So you think you want my Job?

Ever wondered what it’s like to be a mermaid? Cara Nicole Neo lets us in on her first-hand experience.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Ever wondered what it’s like to be a mermaid? Cara Nicole Neo lets us in on her first-hand experience.
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A young dreamer

“I’ve always loved mermaids. I remember being in the school swim team back in primary school, and my coach would sort us into groups by associating us with sea creatures instead of numbers – there were the Mermaids, the Dolphins, and the Starfi shes. Week after week, I’d change my seating place and hope I’d get numbered as one of the Mermaids!”

First taste of magic

“I dressed up as Ariel when I was seven, but I only got to wear my first actual tail about three years ago. It was an evening when I wriggled into it, figuring out the foot pockets and trying to get used to the feeling of being bound from the waist down. Once I got into the water, it felt absolutely magical. It felt right. I felt like I had become the actuality of myself that I had always seen in my mind.”

Diving in

“It was a big step for me, transitioning from hobbyist to a professional. You’d think most people would jump at the chance, but I was keenly aware of the challenges that would come with such a transition. However, my boyfriend is an awesome business mentor and he encouraged me to give it a go. Once I let myself get into the idea, I became increasingly excited and thought of all sorts of options I could work out. Since then, I’ve never looked back.”

Going against the current

“People see a graceful mermaid swimming
effortlessly in the water, so a lot of the time they don’t understand
how much hard work goes on behind-the-scenes. My tail weighs 15kg and
it’s almost as tall as I am, so transportation to and within events
always requires careful planning.When I’m in the water, I also struggle
with the chlorine. I regularly finish gigs with stinging eyes and a
sinus infection that lasts all day.”


“Children are clever little fishies! I often get comments like, ‘You’re not real!’ or ‘You’re not a real mermaid, or you wouldn’t be able to breathe on land for this long!’. A lot of the time, I’ll have to think up an answer on the fly, like, ‘Of course I’m real! Are you real?’, which makes them think for a moment. If you answer confidently and quickly, you earn their trust and respect, no matter whether they really think you’re real or not.”

Grooming little mermaids

“For a long time, I wanted to create a community where people could embrace this deep-rooted love for something magical, where they could not only learn the physical skills involved, but also be wholly immersed in mermaid culture and values. That inspired me to start the Singapore Mermaid School, where I champion my three core values – strength, beauty and love – and promote an environment of body positivity. Everybody and every body [type] is welcome here. No conforming to unrealistic, uber-photoshopped media ideals here, thank you very much!”

Swimming forward

“I’ll be ramping up classes at the Singapore Mermaid School from February onwards, and I’ll also be launching my mermaid webstore at, so look out for mermaid goodies coming your way!”



Dressed up as Ariel and loved it

Early 2013

Became a mermaid hobbyist

Late 2013

Started mermaid events business


Founded the Singapore Mermaid School

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