Woman sets up Instagram account for her fake babies, slamming critics who call them ‘creepy’
It's perfectly normal for most people to play with dolls when they're kids (or with action-figures, if your masculinity is so fragile that you insist that they're totally different) but it isn't a hobby that most people carry on with in adulthood. A small child cradling a little plastic baby and pushing it along in a pram is cute, but an adult doing the same thing will probably get weird looks from strangers, and might even have others questioning their sanity.
It's a double standard, but there's something about dolls that most people find kind of unsettling when they grow up. Maybe it's the uncanny valley effect: where things that look almost realistically human but not quite human enough have a weird way of getting under our skin. One woman who understands this phenomenon all too well is Ivy Clarke, who's become something of an Instagram celebrity among 'reborn' (über-realistic baby doll) aficionados for her pictures and videos of her own dolls. Unfortunately, she also deals with an unwarranted amount of harrassment and abuse from trolls and detractors who allegedly find the dolls "creepy."
Ivy, who has three grown-up real children, lives in Queens in New York City, and first became interested in reborns earlier this year. She already collected more cutesy dolls, but when she spotted how realistic one of the reborns looked on eBay, she was immediately intrigued. She initially baulked at the steep price tag (some reborns cost around $1,000) but eventually found one at a discount of $175 . Eventually she tracked down the doll's twin for $120, and devoted her Instagram entirely to the reborns. That was when she first noticed a negative reaction from people who stated that they found the plastic effigies unsettling.
"People can be very negative, and say the dolls are creepy," Ivy stated in a recent interview. "But they look like babies and babies are cute, not creepy. People collect all sorts of things so I don’t understand why this is seen as so weird. Everyone is always trying to find a deeper reason for collecting reborns, like that you miss having young children yourself, but the truth is I genuinely like them and appreciate the craft that goes into making them. What the reborn community loves most about the dolls is that they are beautiful art works that never throw up or grow up."
She added: "Having seen how much work goes into each doll, I can completely see how they’re so expensive to buy. From scratch, I imagine they could take months to make. Some of them even have individual hairs sewn in ... Before I take their picture, I like to look up ‘reborns’ on Google to see what other people have done with them. That way it looks a bit more professional. I haven’t had any negativity on Instagram. All I ever get is compliments about how cute they are."
Indeed, Ivy is keen to stress that she isn't delusional, and that she doesn't think that they're real or can talk to her. Similarly, she knows that they're no substitute for real kids. However, she appreciates them for their appearance, and even tries to educate her critics by arguing that collecting reborns is no different from hoarding stamps, coins or baseball cards.
So maybe Ivy's hobby isn't for everyone, but that's fine. It doesn't mean she has to be subjected to abuse online. I guess that old idiom is true: if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all.