People think of mermaids as graceful mythical sea creatures.
But Ms Cara Nicole Neo knows being one is not as glamorous as it looks.
Since July 2013, she has been transforming into Mermaid Syrena for children's parties and corporate events.
Her feet blister when she swims in her silicon mermaid tail for long periods, and her eyes have become more sensitive to bright lights after prolonged exposure to chlorinated pool water.
But the 23-year-old National University of Singapore student, who is majoring in English Literature, takes it all in her stride.
She said: "I smile and carry on, and sometimes I have so much fun that I forget the discomfort I'm in. It's all worth it when I see my clients' smiles."
When Ms Neo was younger, she was captivated by the mermaid myths her parents and grandparents used to read to her. So it was her childhood dream to become one.
She said: "Mermaids epitomise grace, beauty, elegance and power. I find that combination inspiring."
Ms Neo finally fulfilled that dream after buying a fabric tail she saw online in July 2013.
But she was not satisfied with just a fabric tail.
In October 2013, she designed and shipped a 15kg made-to-measure silicon tail from the US, which cost around $5,000.
She said: "It looks more realistic, and the propulsion I get is amazing. I feel like a superhero underwater."
As wearing the tail restricts her movement, she ropes in her boyfriend Josh Chou to help out during events.
The 32-year-old entrepreneur carries her in and out of the water.
He said: "My arms would ache for days after carrying her for an event.
"But she loves doing this, so I have no complaints helping out."
During busy months, Mermaid Syrena can be booked for two events during the weekends.
Rates vary based on the nature and scope of the event, but clients can expect to pay around $500 an hour.
Although she is undecided if this will become a full-time career, she has plans on expanding her business to include a mermaid jewellery line.
She said: "I see the joy and excitement it brings to children when I appear in my tail.
"As long as my legs and eyes don't give up, I will continue being Mermaid Syrena."
This article was first published on January 6, 2015.
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