Things That Kinda Freak Me Out: Reborn Dolls
For those of you who don't know, a “reborn” doll is a baby doll that's made to look as realistic as possible. So much so that on at least two separate occasions, police officers have broken into locked cars to rescue what turned out to be a toy.
These dolls are made from vinyl, painted to look like real baby skin. This is achieved by painting the inside of the doll blue, and the outside flesh-colored. Real hairs or mohairs are threaded into the scalp, one at a time. The doll might be weighted, as appropriate for its “age,” and some will have magnets inside the head or mouth for attaching hair bows or pacifiers. Some reborn dolls are heated, make baby sounds, or have gadgets inside them that simulate breathing and a heartbeat. A really fancy reborn doll can cost thousands of dollars. They are sometimes called “living dolls” or, even creepier, “unliving dolls.”
Artists began making these creepy little critters in about 1990. Apparently, the doll collecting community wasn't happy with your standard dead porcelain eyes anymore, and wanted something even more soul-destroying. The International Reborn Doll Artists (IRDA) club was born (pun intended).
Some people simply collect them, like you'd collect any doll. While this may not be the wisest use of a n adult person's money, it's not that unusual.
Other people, however, have taken this way, way overboard, and actually treat the dolls just like they're real babies, except, I guess, for the “leaving them alone in a locked car” part.
Reborn dolls come with birth certificates and adoption papers. You can have your doll handcrafted to resemble the baby your grown child used to be, just in case that grown child still loves you at all. Or, you can have the reborn doll handcrafted to resemble your dead or miscarried baby, because nothing says “moving on” like taking a replica of your dead child everywhere you go.
Scientists believe that holding a real baby causes people to release bonding hormones, such as oxytocin, and they suspect that holding reborn dolls may have the same effect. Doctors in the UK have used them to soothe elderly patients. Some psychiatrists support the use of reborn dolls as part of the grieving process for bereaved parents. Others, however, think that's the stupidest thing they've ever heard.
There's some concern that the use of such a doll could inspire the mentally unsound to kidnap a real baby. Others point out that owners of these dolls can easily wreak havoc in social situations by carrying, changing, and, I'd imagine, attempting to feed a piece of plastic.
One lady told Reuters that she bought a reborn doll because her (living) child wanted a sibling and she, the mother, didn't feel like having any more children. When I asked for a little sister or brother, my mother said “No,” and bought me a puppy.
Some women presumably buy these dolls because they don't want a real baby, what with all the puking, screaming and sh*tting real babies tend to do. Those who carry these dolls in public say they enjoy the positive feedback from strangers, who compliment the “baby's” good behavior. I'd like to know how many of these women respond, “Of course it's well-behaved, it's a doll.”
Honestly, though, these things are freakin' creepy. I'm not the only one who thinks so. Harrod's has refused to stock them, on the grounds that they might come to life at night and kill the janitor.