Mermaid: 'Exactly what I wanted to do with my life'
EUGENE, Ore. - Emily Cooke slides into her silver neoprene fin.
"I wasn't into the mermaid thing forever," she said. "It starts with a pretty bad story."
She dives into the water, at peace with herself.
Emily wasn't always this happy.
"I was actually sitting in my room, on my computer, thinking about committing suicide, when I found the pictures of these people doing exactly what I wanted to do with my life," she said.
At the time, Emily was at an all-time low.
She was in and out of unhealthy relationships, using drugs and felt hopeless. But by fate, or random chance, what she discovered while aimlessly browsing YouTube provided her with a sense of hope that would ultimately save her life.
"I found these videos of mermaids swimming with whales, dolphins, and other sea life. That was something I had always dreamed of doing, and after seeing somebody living that dream, I decided to go after it myself," she said.
Emily has always been enamored with the sea and other sea life. For her, the possibility of working with whales was more than a dream.
"When I was little I thought the only way to fulfill this dream was to become a marine biologist at Sea World," she said. Becoming a mermaid has been a "much more in tune way of getting what I was after."
"It has definitely been a journey for me," she said.
Being overweight, Emily understood that overcoming her own insecurities was pivotal to her happiness and success.
At first, the weight she was carrying was scary to her.
She knew society had certain expectations of how bigger women should or shouldn't look, and it took her finding a peace within herself to overcome these expectations.
"I was really trying to change myself to fit the mermaid, but I figured out I could make the mermaid fit me instead," she said.
To Emily, who goes by the performer name of Lady Frost, becoming a mermaid has been an inspiration to go after something she wanted.
It has given her the confidence to conquer her demons, and allowed her to find a sense of peace underwater that was otherwise lost to her on land.