Mom Buys Realistic Baby Doll, Treats it Like a Real BabyBy Sumitra on December 9th, 2011
36-Year-Old Ashleigh Kirby is obsessed with her new-born baby, Finlay. Only, Finlay isn’t a real boy. In a story that strongly reminds us of Pinocchio, Ashleigh is emotionally attached to a realistic, life-size baby doll, even more than with her own daughter when she was born.
Ashleigh lives with her 12-year-old daughter Becky in Andover, Hampshire. She separated from her partner when Becky was just five. After trying several years, she lost hope that she would ever find a suitable man and have babies again. Describing herself as strongly maternal, she wanted to have a baby in the house at any cost. When Ashleigh came across the ‘reborn’ dolls online, she immediately placed an order for one, priced at £250. She has since spent hundreds of pounds on the doll, on clothing, nappies and more. She takes the doll out to the park for a walk in a stroller, cuddles with it and even takes it shopping, treating it just like a real baby. Sometimes other women come over to her to see the baby, mistaking it for a real one. Ashleigh says she just plays along.
The dolls are created by artist Yvonne Walters, who is regularly contacted by people who want to use them as a substitute for real babies and even to replace babies that have died. She says she doesn’t understand it herself, but it’s okay if it provides solace to people. Customers get to design their own dolls, that are made of glass beads or steel shots to make them feel as real as possible. Each hair is added individually to the head, taking 40 hours to complete. Veins, fingernails, milks spots, flaky skin and baby hair are all painstakingly created.
Ashleigh is an unemployed mom claiming £13,000 ($20,000) a year in terms of benefits. She has spent most of it on Finlay, and now plans to get him a companion, an older girl-doll called Summer. If only she could find a fairy-god mother to make the babies real.