While the original shell bikini-ed Ariel is lovely and all that, there are two non-movie incarnations of her that I really love. One is from a Disney campaign shot by Annie Leibovitz which casts Julianne Moore as the underwater princess, all ethereal and pale skinned with flowing red hair.
The other is a decidedly saucier version, in which artist J Scott Campbell re-imagines her as a devastatingly sexy aquatic temptress with a set of knockers that must be damn near impossible to submerge.
|I keep expecting the ship in the background to tip over from the sheer force of her outrageous rideyness.|
I quite like it when mermaids appear in popular culture, where they seem to either be unfeasible love interests or enticing predators. Most recently they were featured in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Darryl Hannah flopped her tail fins around in Splash! and both Sade and Lady Gaga have put in turns as lovelorn mermaids in their music videos.
|Larry: I just thank the Lord she didn't live to see her son as a mermaid.|
Derek: Mer-man! (Black Lung cough) Mer-MAN!
Anyway, what prompted me to fish out (Haha! Oh COME ON, it had to happen sooner or later) pictures of foxy sea dwelling ladies in the first place was cinema's first mermaid, Annette Kellerman.
Annette was an Australian swimmer, high diver, stuntwoman, model and star of vaudeville and film who revolutionised women's swimwear and invented synchronised swimming too while she was at it. In the early 1900s, women were expected to wear woollen dresses and pantaloons while swimming, all in order to protect their collective modesty. *shakes fist at patriarchy* Annette, a world-class swimmer, was having none of that stupidity and fashioned her own swimming costume by sewing stockings onto a men's racing swimsuit. Take that, squares!
|That saucy wench, flashing her KNEES! Someone think of the children!|
However, one day in 1907 she was swimming at a beach in Boston wearing one of her fitted one piece suits without the leg coverings and was promptly arrested for indecency.
|I love that she's making it as awkward as possible for that jerk to bundle her into the paddywagon.|
Undeterred, she went on to create her own line of women's swimming costumes, encouraging ladies swamped in layers everywhere to ditch the stupid woolly sailor dresses and go for a one piece that they could actually move around in, paving the way for modern swimwear. She became a major film star, appearing in many underwater adventure movies as a mermaid, designing her own costumes and developing the first swimmable mermaid outfit for camera. She was also the first well-known actress to do a fully nude scene in 1916's A Daughter of the Gods.
As if all that wasn't enough, she also wrote several books on swimming and beauty, a book of children's fairy tales and opened a health food shop in Long Beach, California. Considering all Ariel managed to do was catch a touch of laryngitis and marry Prince Eric, I think it's safe to say I have a new favourite mermaid.