Meet The Body-Positive Mermaid Who Lives In Harlem

It turns out, one of our biggest body-positivity heroes of the year might just be a mermaid — who lives in Harlem.

Cookie DeJesus, a Manhattan local and mystical aquatic goddess, first turned to the calming rhythms of the ocean as a refuge from her abusive childhood. Now, she's cultivated a community of fellow mermaids across the globe, all of whom use their gem-laden tails to inspire others to love themselves and follow their passions.

Cookie owes some of her magic to her husband and self-proclaimed mer-wrangler, Ralph. He's the quiet support behind her exuberant performance, designing and hand-stitching her tails for neighborhood appearances (or just low-key floats in the Coney Island surf) — he began with a YouTube sewing tutorial as his guide. The pair even got married in a mermaid-themed wedding, officiated in a pool surrounded by other whimsically dressed mer-enthusiasts.

Despite the maritime glamour of Cookie's glimmering, shell-encrusted bras and lazily swaying fins, the core of her message surfaces with striking clarity: Being a mermaid is all about finding peace with yourself and your past — and celebrating that journey. "More than anything, I feel beautiful. It doesn't matter what size, shape, how old, what gender you are — become what you want," she preaches. We obviously couldn't agree more.

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