We treat discomfort in any form as a hindrance to our consciousness. But for the fearless creatures and self-love warriors who pine to identify and own their truth, the angst of trauma and low-spirited sentiments are used as light. It is a light that transmutes those harrowing feelings into beautiful messages and gentle nudges to guide our most complex, imperfect, authentic selves. And Emily, aka Mermaid Renegade, is the perfect example. A body positive advocate and woman who lives a brave vulnerability, Emily has uncovered magic in that light. Learning to embrace the suffering found in her struggles and insecurities, she is transforming pain into erotic poetry, riveting art, and empowering creative expressions that are bringing her closer to unadulterated self-acceptance.
Who is Mermaid Renegade and the ever-evolving woman you are becoming?
Mermaid Renegade is who I aim to be. She’s my alter ego, someone I don’t always relate to, but aspire to be. She is fearless, confident in her own skin, an advocate for body positivity, and an intense creative who does not care about the opinions of others. Mermaid Renegade is who I created in my head of who I want to be, how I want to be seen by others, and how I wish to live my life. The real me is much more insecure, judgmental of herself, and slightly sad. Two years ago when I decided to try modeling, I wanted to create a character. Now, after building this platform, I finally feel like I’m transforming into the woman I want to be long term. I want to make a difference. I want to push the male eye who craves a nice toned body, and encourage it to accept stretch marks and rolls at the same.
Describe your adolescent years. What elements in your life have influenced you to pursue the BDSM community and further your involvement in creative exploration and photography?
I grew up around two conservative parents and always felt like the “black sheep” of the family due to my wild child instincts. I was happy as a child until I was about 13 years old when I noticed things with my parents were not healthy. I discovered my father’s affair when I was 16 years old and had to tell my mom. That catapulted my life into a 10-year struggle that involved court cases, watching my mom cry daily, and feeling angry. I was also diagnosed with ADHD at a young age and needed medication to get through school. I discovered my love for release through pain when I got my first tattoo. I often compare rope and tattoos because to me, they are very similar experiences when it comes to my body and mind. I think my inability to quiet my mind drove me to both of these things. It’s a constant battle through my daily life to focus on one thing, feel relaxed without anxiety, and rest my mind. I also wrap this into my self-love journey.
Seeing a picture of my body beautifully twisted always makes me love my body a little more. I love it for allowing me to fold into shapes and withstand pain, for the strength it shows me that I have. It reminds me that I’m a warrior.
In your own words, what does the word “kink” mean to you and when was the first time you realized that you were aroused by unusual fetishes and alternative forms of sexuality?
To me, the word “kink” means sexual taste or fantasy. A kink is something that allows you to express yourself and explore your body. I first realized I was into unusual fetishes when I got turned on during a rape scene in a movie. I didn’t understand it at first, and even to this day, forced sex fantasies are very taboo. I then started reading 50 Shades of Grey and was very intrigued by the dominant and submissive relationship.
Have you ever experienced an inner struggle between your divergent nature and your vanilla life?
Absolutely! I made the decision early on to not connect my real name to my Instagram account. My full name is all over YouTube because I am an aspiring singer who sings a lot for the San Jose Sharks and the San Francisco Giants. I also work for a very large, highly-accredited university in a science position. I have always lived in fear that my Instagram could be found by the wrong person. I have always been a rebel though, so the thought of it sort of excites me, that what I am doing would be considered wrong to some older folks.
Talk to me about the general themes of your visual art and photography. How do you develop an idea for a shoot and what messages can be found within your creative expressions?
I’ve always been a very creative person. I sing, write music, paint, make jewelry, and scrapbook. I think I pulled all of these into one and discovered that modeling was a big dress-up playpen for me. I get inspired by so many different things and then I develop an idea for a shoot based off multiple inspirations. I base most of my ideas on morphing myself and my body into something new. Whether that be covering it in paint, contorting it naked in a tree, or wearing a brightly-colored wig. It also takes me back to my love for Halloween. My ultimate message in my concepts is to empower other women, to spread body positive vibes, and learn to love myself along the way.
When was your earliest exposure to rope bondage and suspension? Can you talk me through one of your initial experiences?
I started seeing rope on my Instagram when I began modeling. I remember seeing one model post about it and that absolutely inspired me. I gained the courage to approach her and ask some questions. To this day, I am so grateful for her because she sent me into the arms of someone I know call my best friend. She mentored me in a way, took me under her wing, and shared her rope connections with me. I then began my journey of entering a community I would soon grow to love with all my heart. My first few experiences with rope were with my friend’s boyfriend at the time. They had a rig above their bed and I would always be over there just hanging out and tying, eager to learn and experience. My first time experiencing rope with them was an outdoor suspension in an abandoned parking lot. I was tied to a street light.
I remember feeling so free, mentally weightless, and triggered. Triggered in a good way though, as if my soul had been lit on fire. I had found my passion and was thirsty for more.
You have nestled and coiled your lovely body into a diversity of ties and suspensions. How do you prepare for these experiences and what words of advice can you provide to first-timers who may be interested in rope?
Self-care is so important in this area. You have to be in tune with your body and what it needs before you experience any sort of physical or mental heaviness. I prepare for any rope experience by making sure I’ve eaten well that day (but not right before a suspension), I am hydrated, and I’ve stretched my body. I also make sure to rest before the tie begins, not only my body, but my mind. To anyone interested in Shibari I suggest checking out Shibari Study. They have amazing tutorials! I’m a huge advocate of the amazing VoxBody Studio as well, which currently offers wonderful online classes at a low cost.
You are known for self-expression and empowerment, utilizing your platform to address very challenging subjects. As a woman who speaks openly about trauma and drowning out the noise of her inner critic, what ways have you learned to own your story?
This is such a great question! I feel in the two years of me blasting body positive posts on my page, I’ve learned a level of self-love I never had before. When you find something you’re passionate about and just go for it, it’s so rewarding to see the growth in yourself.
I throw my heart and soul into my art because I don’t want to take any of the emotion or trauma with me when I leave this earth. I want it made into beautiful poetry, visions, and expressions that can be felt with the eye for years after I’m gone.
I see so many others on Instagram also struggling with the same thing, which makes me feel less alone. When I have days or even months of self-doubt, I’m always learning that I can be better to myself.
What do you love about yourself and how do you currently love yourself?
I love my ability to love others and be there for them. I love my pure kindness and funny nature. I also love my ability to be creative in a lot of aspects of my life. I’m currently doing a poor job of loving myself though. I have been in a negative headspace due to this pandemic and I’ve been working towards improving that. Currently, I masturbate a lot and take baths. I try very hard to listen to my gut and prioritize self-care, but it’s a daily battle.
Is there anything tugging at your heart that you know you need to be more at peace with?
I’ve experienced a lot of unexpected conflict with people in my life recently. As someone who is a fixer, I’ve had a hard time coming to terms with the fact that some of these relationships were just not meant to be. I’m learning there can be toxic people in your life and that will always be revealed at the end of the day. I’m slowly learning to prioritize myself and my needs over others, which is something I also struggle with. I’m learning how and where to set boundaries in my life. It’s a painful but necessary process that has ultimately, brought me to a place of acceptance.
Identifying untapped passions is such a beautiful way to practice self-love. Is there a shoot you have always dreamt of creating, but have yet to execute?
I have a concept I have been wanting to create for some time now that is in the works. It reminds me mostly of the show Nip/Tuck. When you see shows where people get plastic surgery and the doctor marks up their entire body before their procedure, it looks like beauty experiment, doesn’t it? What I wouldn’t give to have plastic surgery and get rid of some of my flaws, but I must love this body. I want to play with my very honest desire to have surgery and twist that into a self-love concept. In some ways I create to love myself.
Favorite rope tie?
A double futos. It makes me helpless and also, do you realize how strong my legs are?
Favorite body part?
My booty and my eyes.
Favorite thing to feed your soul?
Nature, insects, and animals. Nothing ignites me more than green, lush, alive things! I would say ultimately, earthing and grounding myself.
Anything by Sarah Dessen. I would really like to get back into reading. It’s been years. One of my all-time favorites is Fire Bringer by David Clement Davis.
Favorite flavor of ice cream?
Coffee and mint chocolate chip.
What is your definition of intimacy?
Getting lost in someone. Trusting enough to allow yourself to get lost in this someone. Letting go. Overwhelming ecstasy. Falling into the unknown. Fluttering hearts and vivacious energy the next day.