Reborn dollsThere’s awkward and then there’s weird. Awkward is when you ask someone how their sweetie pie is doing and unceremoniously discover they’ve detoured in Splitsville. Awkward is going out to eat with your co-workers and having the waiter come back to the table because your card’s been declined. Awkward is when you excitedly touch another woman’s tummy only to learn—maybe through a choice set of words—that she is actually not pregnant.

Weird, on the other hand, is a grown lady carrying around a baby doll and seriously pretending that that hodge podge of plastic is a real infant. That’s when awkward graduates into straight up strange. Bonus points for toting fake baby in a carrier and (yikes) shooshing someone while fake baby takes a nap. Silly as it seems, Reborn Dolls are bypassing the quirkiness of a few oddball women to be a full-blown international movement involving thousands who find comfort in cuddling a faux newborn.

Some even have electronic devices implanted that mimic a heartbeat or simulate breathing. Now that’s freaky. 

Like the folks highlighted on “My Strange Addiction,” the gals who mother Reborns don’t see anything out of the ordinary about their little hobby. One mother of two named Becky, saddened because she couldn’t have any more children, got a Reborn as a Christmas gift and now hauls it around in an infant car seat, only admitting it’s a doll if people ask. Otherwise, the un-born child, one of 10 Becky has “adopted”—because you don’t buy them, you adopt them, like Cabbage Patch Kids minus the yarn hair and fabric bodies—is passed off as real.

At anywhere from $50 to $4,000, they’re pricey for a doll but a heck of a lot cheaper than a real kid. Plus, they never grow out of their brand new sneakers, spill grape juice on the living room carpet, or need money for college tuition.

Some women, who’ve gone so far as to build nurseries for their collections, claim having and holding the babies is therapeutic. Far be it from me to knock anyone in their process of healing, sometimes from losing a child, sometimes from not being able to have a child at all. But it’s when that period extends past a progressive course of action into a full-out alternative lifestyle that it becomes a little (or a lotta) strange.

I hadn’t even heard of it until recently, but I must confess I don’t know if I could adjust my facial expression into a socially appropriate response if some woman revealed that the “baby” she was carrying was indeed fake. In scouring pics of them, not a one made me want to cuddle, nuzzle, or hug them. Meanwhile, there are plenty of real-life, flesh-and-blood babies and children in desperate need of the kind of love and attention showered on these faux little people. I’m just saying.

Are you weirded out by Reborn dolls?


Image via purplegothicqueen/Flickr