Welcome to Barb’s doll world

Dolls are to me many things. They are a hobby, an art, an obsession. They have brought me great joy and great regret. They have brought me closer to some friends and family, and further away from others. They have helped me cope with debilitating depression and grief. They have been both my solace and my demons. They have been my doorway into a unique community of very colorful and talented people. They have brought me new friends, and they have brought me great loneliness.

I believe dolls are unique in the strong emotional reactions they can provoke from people. We dress them in diapers and dresses and give them to young girls to encourage maternal tendencies. We demonize them and cast them as the lead characters in absurd horror films. We give them unrealistic and hyper-sexualized proportions and put them in the hands of prepubescent girls. We encourage their use as imaginative playthings for girls and ridicule the same in boys.

Our various reactions to dolls ultimately tell us much more about ourselves than the actual doll at hand. Women who collect dolls as a hobby are often pathologized, the subject of psychological musings about feelings of inadequate motherhood and childhood lost. Men who collect action figures–which, however you slice it, are DOLLS–are never subject to the same inquiry. At the most, such men are designated as cultural “nerds.” Female doll collectors are just silly.

As a professional writer and a doll collector, this blog will serve as my window into the doll-collecting universe for both insiders and–hopefully–outsiders alike. I intend to offer my own perspectives on the collector doll industry and the colorful personalities that comprise it. I will post photographs of my own dolls and share the work of some of the most talented people in the industry. I hope to bring to wider attention artists whose work I believe is up-and-coming, and I will offer thoughtful critical reviews of the latest products.

Since I am a collector of fashion dolls, my blog will mostly concern itself with that section of the collector market. I have collected a wide variety of dolls during my 20+ years of collecting. Like many, I started out with Barbie, and I abandoned her when her newer 16″ sisters caught my eye. But although they make up the majority of my collection, I have never limited myself to the “taller” fashion dolls. My collection includes the work of Robert Tonner, Integrity, Paul Pham, Helen Kish, Annette Himstedt, Madame Alexander, Jan McLean, and others.

So welcome to “Doll Therapy,” and please subscribe to be notified when there is a new post. I look forward to sharing my dolly journey with all of you. Happy New Year!


Below is my latest muse, Paul Pham’s “Stratus.” You can see how well she adapts to different looks and styles. Stratus is one of the loveliest dolls in my collection. The two bottom portraits are the work of the lovely Angela Nielson.

Stratus in Cami wig Hippie7 Paul Pham's "Stratus" Paul Pham's "Stratus"



5 thoughts on “Welcome to Barb’s doll world

  1. I have just come across this blog, have been reading it voraciously and am now following it. Dolls are to me many of the things they are to you, I have loved them in various forms all my life. Back in the 90s, spending time with fashion dolls helped get me through some extremely difficult days. In 2005 I discovered the world of the reborn baby doll and unleashed on myself both the wonderful sense of fulfilment and community and the backlash of aprobrium that being hands on with these dolls entails.

    Last year I started reading blogs about the collecting of fashion dolls and thus found out that there were fashion dolls for the adult collector, a thing I hitherto did not know. I have recently purchased my first Tyler Wentworth and am about to receive my second. After much checking things out I have decided that, with my limited room and availability of funds, the Tonner Tyler Wentworth is the route I want to go for now and even in the first part of this year I have got amazing joy from getting a haul of Tyler fashion together, plus, through a talented taylor in Michigan, custom designing an outfit or so. As I live in the UK, where the Tonner collectors seem to be thin on the ground and to where the Tonner company does not ship direct, my journey has not been smoothe, but this promises to be an interesting year one way and another! If only I could get to Texas!

    I so look forward to reading more blog entries and sharing in your doll musings, please forgive the length of this mini-blog of mine! 🙂


    1. Welcome to Doll Therapy! It isn’t always easy to be a doll collector in a society that demonizes dolls so much. I’m glad you have taken comfort in them. I discovered Tyler in 2003, after collecting Barbie for 10 years. Now 16″ fashion dolls make up the vast majority of my collection. May I ask which Tyler dolls you chose? 🙂


  2. Enjoyed the article. Loved the fuller figured dolls (one drawback to Emme was that the doll was so heavy she was hard to ship without shifting and damaging herself in the box—the vinyl wasnt hollow, at least that was my experience. And the 17″ athletic body sags at the knees. I still like them though)

    Commercialization of the human female has gotten worse over the decades as manners have declined and the definition of ‘in poor taste’ has narrowed. The ideal figure though of 36-22-36 was more conducive to Barbie and quite prominent in film and advertising of the 40s and 50s. We didnt blame Barbie for that though. She was herself a response to the standards of the times (and the limitations of the thickness of fabric at the waist to some degree). I forget which famous fashion designer was reputed to have reveled in the PostWWii thinness of women emerging from semistarvation for modeling clothing.


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