Last summer I went to Florida for a mermaid con called Merpalooza. I was decidedly not the best dressed person there, not even close to authentic. I was nervous about this because I knew that droves of gorgeous young women were going to show up in silicone tails that cost upwards of $2-4K. And there I was, a mermaid wannabe in a last minute, jacked up $27 costume from an online discount costume merchandiser. Would they think I was a mermaid sychopant? Would they make fun of me?
Happy to say that my efforts were warmly welcomed. I got compliments from the real mermaids. They "got" that I was a sympathizer, a kindred spirit, golden in heart if not in pocket. I wasn't authentic but they knew that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Later, on Facebook, I assured a gal that she too would get a warm welcome for her sincere efforts if she went tail-less to a mermaid event. She had been to a pirate event (another con I have in my sights) and someone had chastened her for her lack of authenticity. I assured her that would not happen at a mermaid con (even though I only had one experience to judge by).
When I posted pictures of my mermaid costume on Facebook, another woman who had friended me on the basis of my mermaid photo told me I was a sham! (Uh, lady, did you notice that my mermaid profile pic says "Face In Hole"? I'm not exactly trying to project a pro image here.) She pointed out costumes that cost thousands of dollars and basically told me that I had some nerve presenting myself in my Cinderella rags in front of these real merfolk who worked so hard and spent so much time, money, and effort on their tails. I was a little taken aback. Not so much for myself as for the gal I had just advised to feel comfortable with her "mermaid sympathizer" gear. What if she saw this blatantly negative appraisal of my efforts? Would she be deterred from attending one of the mer-cons? I couldn't let that happen because the folks I met at Merpalooza were amazing, warm, and welcoming, and I didn't want to discourage the first timer.
I deleted the negative post and the person who sent it.
I can't wait to see all my merfolk friends at the next con. They'll understand.