The Internet is a double-edged sword. For every wonderful bit of information you discover, you find something else you wish you didn’t know. “Reborns” fall squarely in the latter category. Frankly, I’m a bit freaked out by the whole concept. And what better reason to share it with you?
Noel was born on November 21, 2007, 20 inches long and weighing 5 pounds, 10 ounces. Adorable? All babies are adorable. Only Noel isn’t a baby. Noel is a “reborn,” a doll painstakingly created to look and feel like a real baby. Some have heartbeats and warm skin and appear to breathe. Some burp and cry and wiggle. They can be customized with birthmarks, milk spots and even scratches. And women are buying them like crazy on eBay or through professional reborners and then spending thousands of dollars on baby clothes and accessories. Including strollers to take their babies around town.
Several such women are featured in My Fake Baby, a documentary that recently aired on British Channel 4. You can watch the whole thing in 10-minute segments here and, theoretically, on Channel 4’s website. (I couldn’t get it to play, so it may be restricted to the U.K.) If you can’t watch video, Midnight Celebrity has a summary.
Sue Smith, one of the “mums” in the doc, has nine babies (calling them dolls is a no-no) and is “expecting” another. She’s spent about £25,000 on reborns — that’s $50K for those of us in the States. Um, Sue? It’s not a real baby.
Want a preemie without all that nasty life support? No problem.
How about triplets? No fertility specialist necessary.
And nothing says fake baby like creative studio portraiture.
I’m trying not to be judgmental. I mean, I get two of every collectible I buy so I can keep one in the package. And I have to admit that the artistry is amazing. But I don’t think a woman who has a reborn made to look exactly like her baby who died could be classified as a collector. And I can’t shake the story in My Fake Baby of Christine, the grandmother who commissioned a replica of her grandson who had moved away. When she strapped the doll in a car seat, it was just sad.
Maybe it’s the extreme realism of these dolls that seems to take this pastime well beyond the realm of hobby.
The larger question is why this subject is even deemed worthy of a documentary. Why focus on this when many mothers are dealing with the loss of children head on? What about couples who leap through all sorts of fiery hoops to adopt a real live baby (like just about every lesbian adoptive parents that I know)? What about lesbians who are homicidal maniacs who will do anything to get pregnant? Oh, wait. I got reality mixed up with television for a minute.
Watch My Fake Baby when you get a chance and let us know what you think. Is reborning a simple, albeit expensive, hobby? Are these mums just girls who wanna have fun? Or is this as creepy as it seems? And do you think I could put one of these dolls in the car and get away with using the HOV lane?