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Monday, 14 January 2008

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Amy

There was a doll for sale at a grocery store a couple of Christmas' ago, weighted to feel like a real baby. I had a hard time putting it down and still think about it sometimes. It felt so good in my arms. I didnt buy it and if I had would have given it to my neice. I guess what this means is that I understand a little tiny bit.
I've looked at those reborns on e-bay and it made me want to make them. Theyre amazing.

Flicka

I don't know, I don't see how that can be emotionally healthy. A doll is not a substitute for a real baby. The white pram woman who is treating the doll like a very expensive toy does seem to be the healthiest of the bunch but even she set off bells in my head. Two sets of wheels? Four different prams? That takes the desire for control a little outside the realm of normal.

The woman with the doll who resembles her grandson...that worries me. That attachement can't be healthy. As you pointed out, ti's the nature of children to grow out of the constant need for care and into people who will care for others. This grandmother seems unable to let go.

Nico

I'm disturbed. I do agree that they're not hurting anyone else, and there are *far* worse things that people can and do do. But I'm still disturbed, although I can't really put my finger on WHY. I will have to think about it more.

Bea

"...why else would someone have a whole nursery full and regularly buy more?" Good point.

"Who am I to question that?" I question the society that makes women feel as if they need these dolls in the absense of real, live babies. Women, or people - for that guy out there who has/wishes he had one. Why don't we value people of all ages?

Bea

Orodemniades

Yes, definitely unhealthy for the women.

hanna

Very interesting. The book on which the film "Children of Men" was based (same name) had a similar theme - women and their "babies".

Rachel Inbar

Sounds really freaky. Then again, maybe the dolls come with discount coupons for therapy or something... The whole thing might just be a very clever marketing scheme for therapists who have trouble advertising otherwise.

Caro

I heard about this programme and couldn't help thinking it sounded disturbing. Definitely car crash tv and I'd probably have watched if my husband was out.

blogapotamus

Channel 4 is the leader in car crash television disguised as "hard hitting documentary". They are also the channel that broadcast a program on a different sort of doll- the Real Doll- a state of the art sex toy and companion that can run anywhere from 5k up to 30k. They were ALSO the channel that broadcast the documentary about people who shag animals. I didn't want to look, but I couldn't stop. It was just too horrible.

I watched the trailer for My Fake Baby and I know I probably would have been sucked in by that one too. But you know what the lasting thought I'm going to have about it is?

If that silly woman had taken up one of the precious Parent and Child spaces in the Tesco parking lot for her damned doll, I would have tanned her hide.

Kirby

I can almost grasp the concept of getting warmth and love from others as the parent of a newborn. As someone who is still in very early pregnancy, I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut because folks tend to lavish kindness upon someone who is gestating (okay, at least in Israel they do). But even I feel guilty talking about it since I'm not visibly pregnant. If even this still feels a bit false, I can't imagine how people could take advantage of others sensibilities by feigning motherhood to a newborn.
Clearly a woman with two sets of wheels for a carriage has other issues that need addressing. I would think it would also be a dead giveaway that she's not parenting a real baby (how many mothers of newborns have time to shower, let alone was pram wheels between trips???).
And blogopotamus hit the nail on the head about the parking at Tesco.

Aurelia

I'm surprised they didn't show any woman who have gone through a stillbirth or neonatal death and are using this as a substitute child, at least at home where no one can see them.

I wasn't kidding when I said I'd seen this. My pregnancy loss support group has heard of this and frankly, these are always the women who can't face the terrible reality of what they've lost and try very hard to replace it. They end up in the hospital at some point, usually after someone points out the doll isn't a baby, or after the baby refuses to grow up and act normal. It's rare, extremely rare, but it can happen, sort of a version of post-partum psychosis. The manufacturers of these dolls will even offer to make them in the image of the child who died if given photos, which makes them sick money-grubbing bastards who take advantage of vulnerable people, IMO.

Apart from the fake baby thing, it's funny though when you ask whether infertiles aren't after the whole package when it comes to kids. Most are, but there is a real psychiatric phenomenon, long documented where parents who have waited years and gone through lots to have kids, whether by adoption or IF treatment, start to have higher and higher expectations of those children once they arrive. And when real vomiting, talking back reality come home, it's not so fun, in fact, this is one of the biggest causes of PPD, and post adoption depression.

I struggle with this every day as a parent, and now, while pregnant. I've posted about it before for sure. The pressure on the kids is awful, I'm sure there is an entire generation of "little princes", just like in China. not the ideal way to raise kids. In real life, I know a number of women who have told me that they didn't get what they bargained for and are disappointed. Which is incredibly sad. I never know how to respond.

MoMo

This is very disturbing--I guess I can kind of understand trying to fill the void-but I don't understand the fixation that a doll can fill that. You are right it is definetely watching a car crash!

MsPrufrock

Fair points, all. I have to say I was surprised not to see anyone who had suffered a loss, or was dealing with infertility. Well, not to our knowledge anyway.

I thought the grandmother needed serious help. I assumed the child she was referring to was a) hers and b) dead. When I found out that he was her grandson and certainly alive, I was rather surprised. Buying a doll that looks like he used to years ago won't go very far to help you with your feelings, it just makes the situation worse, living in the past like that. I felt she was a very odd woman anyway, so I'm not surprised how attached she was to the infant ideal of her grandson.

Anna

Oh yes, completely disturbing. You've explained it so well, to add anything would be redundant.

I'm so glad you're enjoying your daughter! Oh, those smiles and laughs just make me melt, every time.

techie

The oddest thing about this programme was finding out the grandmother had in fact five grown up children, NINE other grandchildren and works as a childminder to several toddlers and babies during the week!!

Sarah

creepy. it makes me feel slightly icky for posting this morning that sometimes i wish i could freeze time with my baby. i DEFINITELY prefer a real live growing baby.

as for the infertility connection, i agree they would be even less satisfying to us for all the reasons you mentioned, but also i think many of us would have a particularly strong sense of these things as not living. in other words, we know way too much about dead babies already.

mae


I kept waiting to see the (a) woman who had maybe wished for a real baby in her life but wasn't able to get pregnant and would now use the doll (and yes it is a doll - and it's creepy how "white-pram-lady" would insist on calling the doll: BABY), as a secret way of feeling motherhood. Nothing can, and ever will be like the real thing, but who hasn’t "practiced" being pregnant with a stuffed belly.

I find, as long as it is in your home, it is all good. There is nothing wrong with picturing yourself with what could (and hopefully will) be. But you don't exhibit that in public places,- that is quite odd. Why would they drive around their DOLLS outside in a pram? This is wrong on so many levels.

DinoD

I don't know - haven't there always been women who collect dolls? Aren't these simply more lifelike?

I'm not a collector myself and I never even cared much for dolls when I was little so I don't see the attraction but then wouldn't it be a boring place if everyone where like me?

I have also seen women pushing small dogs in buggies at one of the larger malls in this area and I often hear people talking about their dogs as their "children" and I don't understand that either. We always had dogs growing up and they were very important to us but like children??? Nope.

And I KNOW there are people out there who would flame me about the comparison between dogs and fake babies - I know, I know, the dogs are alive.

But, is it any "healthier" to dress up a small dog and push it around in a pram? If you accept one, why not the other? At least the fake baby is not going to set off any allergy or asthma attacks.

I think we probably all use some crutches - perhaps the fake babies are just a little more visible.

DinoD (a dog lover but of the running around and chewing on bones variety)

serenity

I've been trying to type a well thought out comment now for the past 15 minutes, and I can't really put it any better then Bea did. I do think it's a sad commentary on our society when there's a need for a doll to take the place of a real, live baby. And for the record, I do think that the dog fantasticism (i.e. dressing a small dog up, etc) is a little wrong too.

However. They aren't hurting anyone, right? And if this is how they cope with whatever void is within them, then who am I to judge?

Still, though... it just seems so very unhealthy for them. And sad.

Rachel

I've never seen the show, but that sounds very strange.

ovagirl

Hmmm. I haven't seen this show but your description is very disturbing. But I can't help wondering if this is such a new phenomenon. I think maybe that adult women having a doll/substitute baby to fulfil a range of emotional needs is probably something that has always happened in all societies. It's just that now someone's documented it in a tv show.

Kath

I clicked through to the trailer yesterday and felt just like I feel now after reading your analysis -- sad and empty. How lonely those people must be.

Lori

How incredibly disturbing and sad. I agree that it sounds like the healthiest of the bunch was the woman with the 2 sets of wheels. But that's not exactly saying a whole lot. To each his own I guess.
However, the micro preemie is very upsetting and offensive. Prematurity is a serious medical issue and to treat it like a novelty is just wrong.

Mel

I hadn't heard of this, but it's sounding very Children of Men insofar as the doll fulfilling a very real emotional need.

I'm sort of floored by this.

Somewhat Ordinary

Like many others I'm floored. I kept waiting to read that this was a fictional show. I know they aren't hurting anyone by doing this, but it is terribly unhealthy!

Jennifer

It just seems so darn sad. I wish I could have seen the whole show. What are you supposed to say to someone who has one of these things? I usually don't talk to strangers, but will take a second look to admire a sweet new baby, but what about the poor old lady who loves to take a peek and ask how old the newborn is? It just feels so sad.

May

The thing I find... awkward, I think, is the word, is that I personally don't want a baby much. I see a baby as a stage which a child grows through and out of, and I want a child, a human being, running the whole spectrum from tiny little one-celled specklet to baby to child, to teenager, to grown person with a life and aspirations and maybe even a family of their own. A never-changing doll would be like having my raw nerves sand-papered.

Poor women. My heart goes out to them. Even the clearly not-so-healthy ones.

elizabeth

I own a life-like doll, which looks and feels like a newborn (though it is not nearly as life-like as these). My husband bought it for me the first year we were married, and long before we ever tried to get pregnant, simply because he knew I had always wanted it but had never been willing to spend the money to buy it for myself. It was a lot of fun to hold, for a little while, and when people visited our apartment they were startled to see an infant (until they looked closely).

That doll currently resides in the bottom of my closet. I can't imagine now-yearning for a real baby-getting any comfort from a doll.

lucky#2

WOW! I hope they show that in the states someday as I know I would have to watch it. I would love to hear the psychologists perspective on this obsession as it can not be healthy to make a doll a substitute for a child. I would think they all need some serious psychological help (sure, we all do to some degree) but this seems so extreme. HOw sad....

Helen

I'm troubled by the women who like the attention at their local Sainsbury's. There's more to babyhood than that, and their need for attention says "Issues" to me.

Also - ditto on the creepiness that the grandma wants to re-create her grandson.

pixi

I know it wouldn't have helped me when I was struggling to build a family. It just would have made me even more sad that I could only have a fake baby.

My2cents

Like a previous poster had said, I had also heard of Realdolls (another "replacement" object of a live person, except its a grown woman). A very long time ago when I first heard of it, I too found it extremely disturbing and couldn't put a finger on it. Now that I see this new fake baby deal and am linking the feelings from before I think what I can say is that probably whenever something human and alive seems to be innocently "replaced" in this manner to fulfill some need (whatever need that is), it simply is disturbing by virtue of that fact. You think about the real genuine article (real baby, real woman, real person) and its just subconciously insulting to see man try to create an object to personify GOD's creation and argue about how its better in some ways (doesn't soil diapers, doesn't get fat in case of Realdoll, etc etc). And the other reason its disturbing is that it brings to light people's seemingly unhealthy addictions/desires, even though cast in a very innocent light and even justified. You are forced to see people's "emotional" issues and suddenly with the aid of such objects, these people are publicly displaying their issues and the fact that the "issue" is there to begin with seems to be cast as a normal and healthy thing.
The fact is in the "natural" order of things - babies are not just there for cuddling and are meant to grow up. Women are not just there for sex toys but are meant to be other things (mothers, employees, and yes they can get fat too and that's OK). So somehow trying to "circumvent" that and isolate what someone "desires" while throwing away the rest is what is probably a little disturbing about that.
I have to say though that after having stressed and obsessed on this issue already way long ago (the first time I was faced with the concept of a human-like doll) I am not in the least phased seeing it in this new form. There is one thing I have realized for sure - man is so long ways away from "really" creating EVERYTHING that's good about the real thing, that a doll no matter how life-like still remains just that - a doll.

My2cents

Like a previous poster had said, I had also heard of Realdolls (another "replacement" object of a live person, except its a grown woman). A very long time ago when I first heard of it, I too found it extremely disturbing and couldn't put a finger on it. Now that I see this new fake baby deal and am linking the feelings from before I think what I can say is that probably whenever something human and alive seems to be innocently "replaced" in this manner to fulfill some need (whatever need that is), it simply is disturbing by virtue of that fact. You think about the real genuine article (real baby, real woman, real person) and its just subconciously insulting to see man try to create an object to personify GOD's creation and argue about how its better in some ways (doesn't soil diapers, doesn't get fat in case of Realdoll, etc etc). And the other reason its disturbing is that it brings to light people's seemingly unhealthy addictions/desires, even though cast in a very innocent light and even justified. You are forced to see people's "emotional" issues and suddenly with the aid of such objects, these people are publicly displaying their issues and the fact that the "issue" is there to begin with seems to be cast as a normal and healthy thing.
The fact is in the "natural" order of things - babies are not just there for cuddling and are meant to grow up. Women are not just there for sex toys but are meant to be other things (mothers, employees, and yes they can get fat too and that's OK). So somehow trying to "circumvent" that and isolate what someone "desires" while throwing away the rest is what is probably a little disturbing about that.
I have to say though that after having stressed and obsessed on this issue already way long ago (the first time I was faced with the concept of a human-like doll) I am not in the least phased seeing it in this new form. There is one thing I have realized for sure - man is so long ways away from "really" creating EVERYTHING that's good about the real thing, that a doll no matter how life-like still remains just that - a doll.

loribeth

Here from the Stirrup Queens' Friday roundup. I hadn't heard about this and I do find it disturbing. Part of me wonders about the individual women who do this, but I also wonder what it says about our quick-fix society & its current obsession with all things baby-related. Is this a way for these women to gain some of the attention/approval that goes with having a baby (because at first glance, I'm sure a doll in a stroller looks just like a real-life baby), without the work?

Ellen K.

Oh my goodness. I had never heard of this, although recently I did notice an ad in the national Sunday paper inset (U.S.) for a very lifelike newborn doll with skin that feels "real."

Ms Heathen

I just wanted to thank you for stopping by my blog to offer your support. Your advice was really helpful.

But now you've got me thinking about the 'fake baby' documentary. I watched it when it was shown on Channel 4, and was initially wondering whether some of the women who bought these dolls might have been struggling with infertility - in your post, you very lucidly explain why owning such a doll would not in any way allow us to fulfil our desire to mother a child.

With regard to the woman who obsessively cleaned the wheels of her many prams so that they would not get dirty, I couldn't help but wonder about what sort of childhood she had had. Perhaps her desire to have a baby that never got dirty or made a noise may say more about the messages she received from her parents when she was young?

Vivien

I saw the programme, and was left oddly empty by it. I kept thinking there must be more to these fake babies - as has been said, they are either collectables (which is probably the "best" scenario, people do collect stranger things, and there is a compelling attraction of something so life*like*). Otherwise they are very obviously utterly unfulfilling baby-substitutes. And just how unfulfilled must your life be to want to fill it with a doll?

I think I thought, from the trailers, that the programme was going to deal with those dolls they give to teenagers who think they want to have a baby age 14, and when the thing cries, wees and needs constant attention, they get a glimpse of the reality of having a baby, without having to inflict themselves on a real live one. Now that I CAN see the point of!

Kay/Hanazono

It's taken me forever to comment on this post because I want to talk about it, but can't figure out what to say. I think what troubles me is how many people have lives that leave them needing to be needed, or needing to have something to nurture, or just needing attention. I'm not talking about the woman who is basically a doll collector -- to me she is like the people who collect very expensive cars and wash them immediately after the few occasions that they're driven.

But the others just seem needy in a way that has nothing to do with the baby, really. It's more about how the baby makes them feel, and what the baby does for them. And that is troubling.

What is also troubling is that people who are not infertile will just assume that infertiles are the target market for the fake babies, and that we all have one of these tucked away in the closet somewhere. But I'm not in this just so people will ooh and ahh over me in the street, or to have something to dress up, or to have something warm to cuddle.

Also, I wanted to address the comment above about they could see parents who had lost a child as the target audience for the fake baby. While everyone grieves differently and certainly it may be true that some bereaved parents would choose to buy a fake baby to help process their grief, I don't think that bereaved parents are really the target market. I don't want a replacement for my kid or a baby who is never going to grow up or just something to hold, I want my *actual* kid.

Sorry for the long comment! It's been brewing for days...

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