The REAL reason I was fascinated with the human world is because I was bored of my own. My sisters were too prissy, my grandma too bossy, and my father too absent and power-hungry. I saw the human world as a way to escape - but I didn't know that much about it.
So, I would ask my grandma about everything she knew about the humans. I also collected as much as I could that came from their world (hence the garden statue! Not a weird obsession with boys!).
In the merworld, there's this tradition that when we turn 15, we're given "permission to rise up out of the sea, to sit on the rocks in the moonlight, while the great ships are sailing by; and then [we] will see both forests and towns," as Hans put it.
I COULD NOT WAIT FOR MY 15TH BIRTHDAY. I was the youngest of us 6 princesses, so I had to sit back and watch for 5 years as each of my sisters got to go up and watch the world for the first time.
Every time one of them came back from their first trip up, they would tell these lame stories about how brave they were. Like, oh really, you went up to some human children and asked them to play? But then their dog scared you? Wuss.
Okay, also, they're like kinda creepy. Once all five of them had turned 15 (they couldn't wait another year for me???), they would rise to the surface arm in arm and start singing when men's ships would go by. They would try to convince them that if their ship sank and they all drowned, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, because then they would be with us. How screwed up is that?!
So, when you turn 15 as a mermaid princess, you're supposed to be "adorned" so that people know how important and grown-up you are. When Grandma put the 8 oysters on my tail, and whined like a brat (much more than the "But they hurt me so!" that Hans wrote), because they hurt so badly! Those little suckers clamp on a pinch as hard as they can so that they're not shaken off when we're swimming.
It sucks. And I don't get it. I think Grandma's answer of "Pride must suffer pain" is so screwed up! Why they heck would I want to put myself through that, JUST to show others that my daddy is rich? I'm just lucky because I was born as his daughter, I didn't do anything special! The way that merpeople feel like they need to brand their women to show their rank is absolutely absurd.