Something About a Doll

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Every Tuesday night, I participate in a doll chat with a small group of people who collect all different kinds of dolls, Barbies, Monster High dolls, and Tonners. It’s a two-hour break from “real life” and these days very much needed.

When there’s a crisis, especially an ongoing crisis like Hurricane Harvey, you almost feel guilty for talking about anything on social media but the crisis. To have a regular chat where you can be yourself is a wonderful thing. We talk about all kinds of dolls and other toys, doll collecting, repainting dolls, the toy company industry, companies that cater to adult collectors, making doll clothes, ways to fix things like stains on dolls or matted hair.

We’re like every other group of adult collectors . . . except we collect dolls.

This somehow makes us weird and creepy. Action figures are acceptable collectibles. So is sports memorabilia. Comic books. Baseball cards. Christmas villages. Massive Nativity scenes. So many things, but doll collectors aren’t even allowed on the bottom rung of the ladder. What’s so wrong with us?

Most of us have loved dolls since we were children. That’s normal. We’re not all women, by the way. Men, straight and gay, collect dolls. Not vintage toys, but dolls. Why?

There is something about a doll. People with big imaginations are drawn to dolls. A dollhouse is a tiny world where you can act out the stories in your mind. I was lucky enough to have my mother’s childhood dollhouse when I was a child. Still, I preferred playing with my Barbies and Flower Princess dolls and Star Fairy dolls and generic fashion dolls outside. I believe in fairies 100%. I spent hours with my dolls playing fairies at the mossy base of a maple tree. I made up stories in my mind. When I started school, I started writing down stories. Now I’m a writer, and I still draw inspiration from my dolls.

But everyone who collects dolls doesn’t become a writer or photographer or fashion designer, and that’s okay. It’s okay to just love dolls, no matter how old you are, no matter if you’re a boy or a girl. Dolls are a joy. Some collectors keep their dolls in glass cases and never touch them, which is understandable if you have a collection of 19th century bébé Jumeaus. Modern doll collecting is very different. Whether we collect ball-jointed dolls (BJDs) or other expensive fully articulated dolls or Tonners or Barbies or Monster High dolls, our dolls are part of our households. We may have so many dolls that we pack some away and rotate them throughout the year. Many doll collectors have holiday dolls. It’s fun to set up a holiday scene with dolls providing action. A skilled photographer can make dolls come alive in pictures.

Dolls give us a break from the grinding stress of life today. Often, it’s relaxing just to sit and hold a doll. That doesn’t mean we’re living in childish fantasy worlds. It means we’ve found a hobby that gives us something to look forward to (buying a new doll or buying or making clothes) and it connects us with other people. And what could be more precious than connection in this precarious world?

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