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Reborn Dolls Are Treated Like Real Babies but (Alas) They’re Still Fake

by Janelle Harris on April 5, 2012 at 8:25 PM

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 

Filed Under: behavior, in the news, toys

Comments

50
  • nursemc
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    nursemc

    April 6, 2012 at 7:50 AM

    I think women who treat them like real babies to the point of being delusional are scary. But, have you ever held one of these dolls? Seriously they look and feel so real you can't help but hold them like a real baby. I even found myself doing that little "please just go to sleep for Mommy" bounce/rock move with one of these dolls.


  • Nicho...
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    NicholasMama608

    April 6, 2012 at 8:38 AM

    I have a breathing reborn doll.  Right now it's sitting in the box in my closet but one day I'll put it in a cabinet with all my porcelain dolls.  I've collected porcelain dolls so I was interested in the Reborn dolls so I bought one off craigslist for like $30.  They are SO lifelike and cute, but too expensive to keep as a hobby IMO.


  • kuwel...
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    kuwelsdestiny

    April 6, 2012 at 8:50 AM
    I like this idea, and wonder if it could be used to comfort women who have had miscarriages or stillbirths. Or even for post-abortion counselors. I mean, I understand as a lifestyle it is kind of wacky, but it could offer a lot of help to women who need it.
  • CoolR...
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    CoolRelax

    April 6, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    You're correct, that is a little weird.  Comfort and therapy is one thing - but that's not normal.


  • jalaz77
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    jalaz77

    April 6, 2012 at 9:30 AM
    I don't think it would be good for therapy, it's like saying look here is what you could of had and it prevents that person from going through the grieving process. I understand as a collectors point of view but to build a nursery is way out there, mental.
  • kaerae
    -- Nonmember comment from

    kaerae

    April 6, 2012 at 10:55 AM
    I agree with @JALAZ77 - That seems incredibly cruel, not therapeutic.
  • mistysun
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    mistysun

    April 6, 2012 at 10:56 PM

    In 2006 I went through a "missed abortion". It's where you are pregnant and the baby dies but the mother's body doesn't recognize that the baby has passed on. I was 16 weeks gestation when the baby passed on, we had a heartbeat and everything had looked normal at the apointment the month before. The only indication that I had that anything was " wrong" was that my never ending morning sickness had cleared up. I was sick the entire pregnancy with my previous pregnancy. Nearly 3 weeks before the doctor decided enough was enough and had to go the surgical route to end things.

    I never did have closure with that miscarriage. I had heard of reborn dolls at the time but didn't have the money and it sounded "odd". I sure did want the weight of a baby in my arms to cry over and say goodbye to. I know my baby was gone, and the doll would never be a replacement. I've spoken to other women who have suffered miscarriage and reborn dolls have helped with the initial "shock" of losing a baby and having something tangible in your arms to say goodbye.


  • Linda...
    -- Facebook comment from

    Linda Barrs

    April 7, 2012 at 9:42 AM
    you just have to remember that they are not real there is nothing wrong with them my sister makes and sells these dolls there's nothing creepy about them
  • Natal...
    -- Facebook comment from

    Natalie Waltz

    April 7, 2012 at 10:33 AM
    I want to ask the writer if SHE has ever suffered the loss of a child? While to a certain extent as a lifestyle I can agree that its beyond strange. HOWEVER as a MOTHER of a stillborn daughter born in Sept 2011 at 39w+6d I personally might have found solace in a baby like this. My daughter was STOLEN from me a day before she was suppose to be born ALIVE and BREATHING. I am EXTREMELY sensitive when people who haven't suffered this kind of loss take it upon themselves to judge those of us WHO HAVE HAD A TRAGEDY such as stillbirth. My daughter was born sleeping, I was able to hold her and feel her. I miss her every second of every day and that will not change until the day I join her in the after life, IF there is one. Had I KNOWN about these babies I may have gotten one just to help me through an increasingly difficult situation. I ask the writer to talk to Mom's like myself, get to know us and MAYBE she will understand why some of us can understand WHY people go to such lengths. Where other's just think its weird. DO NOT JUDGE WHAT YOU DO NOT KNOW OR UNDERSTAND. Thank you.
  • AmenA...
    -- Nonmember comment from

    AmenAlicia

    April 7, 2012 at 10:47 AM
    Don't judge!!! There's a lot worse obsessions like the guy spending upqards of 100,000 rebuilding the old panAm cabin in his basement
1-10 of 50 comments

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