A woman has revealed how transforming into a mermaid has boosted her self-esteem.
Jasz Vegas, who starred in BBC Three’s Killer Magic, also says that the breathing skills required for freediving help provide an “inner calm” when she is stressed or anxious.
The magician turned mermaid now uses the water to keep her mental health in check.
Speaking exclusively to Uspire, Jasz said: “Alongside having a sedentary lifestyle, I also fight with depression, anxiety and OCD [Obsessive Compulsive Disorder].
“My doctor suggested that exercise may help alleviate some of my symptoms, alongside CBT [Cognitive Behavioural Therapy].
“Coincidentally, around this time a friend said there was a ‘become a mermaid’ session at our local pool and we had to go.
“From that moment, everything about it has fascinated me and brought me joy.
“Swimming is a great way to exercise and who doesn’t want to wear a shell bra and lure men to their watery demise?!”
Speaking about the positive influence mermaiding continues to have on her, Jasz said she can reach deep relaxation while practicing it and it is also incredibly sociable.
She said: “I’ve always loved to try out new things and constantly have my fingers in many pies. As exciting as that is, it can also be quite exhausting.
“One of the things that really appealed to me about freediving was the focus on inner calm, complete relaxation and breathing techniques.
“This really helped me in my day-to-day life as when I felt stressed or anxious, it became a lot easier to find that ‘inner calm’.
“It’s also been lovely to meet so many other mermaids and make really great friends.
“Many people in the community have become mermaids for similar reasons, to escape their daily stresses, to find a way to alleviate mental health issues, and to make friends and have an amazing time. It is so nice to be surrounded by similar people.”
Alongside just learning to dive, aesthetics seem to play a significant role in the world of mermaiding too – with elegant tails, skimpy bikini tops, and long luscious locks.
Opening up about the relationship with her body, Jasz says she tries to manage her insecurities as best she can while learning to embrace herself as she is.
She explained: “I get quite self-conscious of my tiger stripes (stretch marks) and cellulite, but that’s the great thing about a tail. It hides it all.
“When I’m in the water, I feel strong and beautiful. I have learned to love my body more because without it I couldn’t mermaid.
“The mermaid community is such an accepting and diverse place. Mermaids come in all shapes and sizes. After all, we are mythical creatures and we can look however the hell we like. It’s a celebration of self-expression.”
When asked how she might encourage none-mermaids to get involved, Jasz stressed you don’t need a flair for performance to give it a try.
She said: “That’s the thing, so many people feel like you have to be ‘good’ at something and that it has to lead to some kind of success or monetisation, but that’s not what art is.
“It’s about self-expression and enjoyment. If you have a good time doing something, do it. It doesn’t always have to have an end goal. Dive right in! Enjoy!”
And Jasz was not without a few errors herself in the beginning.
The Brighton-based performer continued: “Picking a good tail was essential to me as when I first tried out some of the lower budget ones, they didn’t have the stability I needed.
“I kept floating belly-up like a dead fish!
“I must have looked ridiculous, floundering around trying to figure out my buoyancy.”
Constantly on the prowl for new challenges, Jasz is now exploring ways she can use her magic skills with her mermaiding.
She added: “Being a magician has given me the skills to entertain. It’s all transferable, just a different kind of magic.
“I’ve been working on combining my skills and performing sea-themed tricks underwater. It’s a lot harder than it looks!
“Opening my eyes underwater has been a real learning curve too, as well as keeping a natural expression.
“There’s one too many photos of me looking like a pufferfish who has been up too late many night in a row.”
For more info, visit NoTanx Freediving.