You're not supposed to say anyone's baby is ugly. So what happens when that baby is fake? Then, are you allowed to call it creepy? Moms of Reborns collect and care for dolls that are so lifelike, their owners told MSNBC that they feel comforted holding them. (Non-owners mostly agree they are the stuff of nightmares.)
Becky, a 42-year-old mom of two (real kids), appeared on the "Today" show this morning to talk about her hobby. MSNBC showed footage of Becky carrying Annie, one of her 10 Reborn dolls, in an infant car seat. She said that she only identifies Annie as a doll when people ask. Caring for a Reborn isn't a spoof, Becky insists. "I don't think I'm odd, this is a hobby," she says.
Becky isn't alone. Several hundred hobbyists showed up to a doll convention in Texas in mid February where Reborns -- which can cost anywhere from $50 to $4,000 -- were the hot ticket item, MSNBC reports. "They're not for sale, they're for adoption," one attendee noted. Like Becky, many collectors do have kids of their own. In their 38 Facts About Reborn Dolls round up, Buzzfeed claims that almost all Reborn customers are women.
On "Today," Becky said she started her collection after she couldn't have any more children. She received her first as a Christmas gift and was hooked after that.
Fellow collector, Karen, who has built a nursery for her 28 dolls, says caring for them fills a deep need. "You know that they're not real, but they look real and after your real children grow up you know that you can have something to hold and cuddle and love when you want to," she says. Both women agree that holding a baby, even if they're not real, is therapeutic.
Though Reborns were created in the U.S., collecting them is an international phenomenon. In 2008, the BBC aired a documentary titled "My Fake Baby" that delved into how many women are obsessed with the dolls in the U.K. According to MSNBC, "At least one nursing home in the United Kingdom makes dolls available to female residents, who become calmer and less disruptive when 'caring' for their infants."