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Mermaids evolved from the ancient pagan goddesses of the sea and fertility. Images of these powerful women have been potent symbols for thousands of years. The "Birth of Venus" by Botticelli is an excellent example . It shows a naked Venus standing in a clam shell covered by her own long, flowing hair and thin pieces of cloth held by cherubs. The image is both sensual and romantic.
Many artists today produce pictures of goddesses. Often they feature nudity or are the pin-up sort. I believe that this is not to lower the goddess but to raise the pin-up. The sexual nature of the ancient goddesses is very important. Sex is a powerful force that renews life and populates the world. In my opinion, the women in pin-ups are idealized representations of the life force, or the anima as Jung calls it. They call to us to join in the great dance of life