A group of Canadian mermen has put their shiny fishtails on for a good cause.
The Newfoundland & Labrador Beard and Moustache Club has joined the fight against gender stereotypes and toxic masculinity donning their best mermen outfits.
The group, known as Merby’s, has produced a calendar featuring all body shapes and including trans guys and non-binary people.
Their name is a combination of the word ‘mermen’ and the Newfoundland term ‘b’y’, which has become a gender-neutral term similar to buddy.
Enough with the harmful gender stereotypes
All profits will go to Violence Prevention Newfoundland and Labrador, a coalition of organizations. Their initiative Deconstructing Masculinity: Engaging Men in Violence Prevention focuses exactly on what mermen are vocal about, that is breaking free of harmful gender roles.
‘The significance of the merman theme comes from the contrast between very traditional depictions of masculinity as rugged and strong, and the very soft and even feminine associations with merfolk,’ says Hasan Hai, the president of the club and the man behind the calendars.
Last year’s calendar raised more than $300,000 for a local mental health organization called Spirit Horse. This year, the guys in fishtails have weighed in on the conversation around toxic masculinity.
‘Men should ditch the expression “A real man is…” because masculinity does not fit one narrow definition, and is different for everyone,’ Hai told GSN.
‘A man can wear a dress and dance around in his living room, and he’s just as much a man as the lumberjack chopping down wood.
‘Men need to learn how to articulate their feelings in healthy ways, form emotional connections with other men, and in general lead happier and more fulfilling lives.’
The mermen and their Internet fame
These mermen have become quite popular in the local community. However, they have also received negative comments, especially online.
‘By and large, it’s been extraordinarily positive responses from men and women all around the world, particularly locally where the MerB’ys are very well known,’ Hai explained.
‘People can be quite emboldened when hiding behind a screen and sometimes don’t mind firing off awful messages’.
He furthermore added: ‘It’s not a big deal. Every negative response is further validation that we’re hitting a nerve and doing necessary work.’
What does it take to be a merman?
Hai also explained what they are looking for in potential fellow mermen.
They welcome people of various ages, body shapes, ethnicities, and ability levels.
‘Our recruitment isn’t about how a person looks, it’s about the person you are,’ he said.
‘Do good things in your community, think of others, and love yourself. Express your masculinity in whichever healthy way you wish to, and never let anyone tell you what that should be.’
Merb’ys calendar is still available to buy on their official website.
All pictures by Roth and Ramberg Photography.